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Florida AG discusses cruise industry reopening as first simulated voyage returns

Royal Caribbean’s first simulated voyage returns as cruise industry prepares to resume sailings

Royal Caribbean’s first simulated voyage is now complete as employee volunteers returned after two days at sea.
Royal Caribbean’s first simulated voyage is now complete as employee volunteers returned after two days at sea.

MIAMI – Royal Caribbean’s first simulated voyage is now complete.

The cruise line’s Freedom of the Seas returned to Port Miami on Tuesday after spending several days on a pandemic-proof test run.

Masked passengers seen exiting the ship were Royal Caribbean employees who cruised to the Bahamas and back to real-time test Covid protocols 16 months in the making.

“When live cruises begin next week, unvaccinated guests will be tested with rapid PCR test in embarkation hall prior to boarding,” said Greg Bokar, GM Point of care testing for Rutgers, testing partner for Royal Caribbean.

Last week’s court ruling, which blocked the CDC’s vaccine mandates for Florida-based cruises, leaves it to each cruise line to decide how to re-launch their live-aboard vacation experiences while protecting on-board health and safety.

Local 10 News caught up with Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody, who brought that case

“There aren’t restrictions either way, whether you’re vaccinated or not vaccinated, that would limit your ability to participate,” said Moody.

On Royal Caribbean, unvaccinated passengers will have to pay extra for testing, and be kept from some venues designated for the vaccinated-only.

Some aboard the test cruise were designated unvaccinated to gauge the experience. Tyler Segal was one of them.

“I got tested before getting on and then I got on, there was a few spots that were designated for vaccinated only, but it did not have an impact on cruise at all,” said Segal.

The cruise industry has been waiting a very long time to resume sailings, and that wait appears to be coming to an end.

“Last week’s court victory was so important for those folks that have been out of work for a year and trying to provide for their families,” said Moody.

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About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."