BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Late last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave Royal Caribbean the green light to conduct a test sail in June.
Bradley Thomas was on that CDC-approved test cruises having just returned from a two-day trip aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.
"They were doing a simulation, so some people were considered as ‘unvaccinated’ passengers in order to practice separating people from vaccinated passengers since it is not a requirement to disclose that information," Thomas said.
The cruise ship left the Port of Miami on Sunday with 600 passengers. Thomas says the unvaccinated test group had to undergo COVID-19 testing once they arrived and wait 40 minutes for a negative test to board.
"They really did a good job separating the spaces. They did applications of social distancing. Inside the ship, you had to wear a mask inside which is totally understandable. But outside, you did not have to wear a mask," Thomas said.
He added, "They had incredible pools, so you get to relax, lay down, have a drink, and enjoy the sun."
Royal Caribbean executives say if a guest shows COVID symptoms onboard or tests positive, they will first be isolated in their stateroom.
"We have an enhanced medical facility on board, so we have doctors and nurses that are ready to assist," said Laura Hodges Bethge, an executive with Royal Caribbean.
It’s all part of the first round of sailings as ships test the waters. A dress rehearsal for the cruise industry.
Thomas says he’s ready for the real thing.
"It is refreshing to see that again, to see people who haven't been able to cruise in 15 months to finally enjoy this activity that has been postponed for so long… It was a breeze, honestly. I was just so surprised and happy to be a part of it," Thomas said.
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