Passengers can sail for free on ‘mock cruises’ - THE INDEPENDENT UK
NOVEMBER 12, 2020
Passengers can bag a free cruise if they volunteer for new trial sailings.
Royal Caribbean is offering complimentary trips in order to run “mock cruises” to test drive its coronavirus measures.
It’s part of a new set of rules introduced by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which stipulates that cruise lines must demonstrate their Covid protocols are up to scratch by operating trial sailings.
The CDC, which previously banned all cruises in response to the pandemic, advised companies to have “volunteers play the role of passengers to test cruise ship operators’ ability to mitigate Covid-19 risk”.
The idea is part of the CDC’s “framework of actionable items for the cruise line industry to follow” to enable cruising to restart safely.
Royal Caribbean has confirmed it plans to operate its own “mock” cruises with volunteers.
“We are going to be doing a series of sailings using our employees and other volunteers to test out the protocols and make modifications,” Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean’s senior vice president of sales and trade support, told Cruise Industry News.
However, for those who do manage to nab a free ride, the voyage might not resemble a normal cruise, industry insiders have warned.
“It’s unlikely these test cruises will feel like a standard cruise vacation, as they are designed for lines to assure that protocols in place are effective,” Colleen McDaniel, the editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, told Travel and Leisure.
Volunteers will be needed for sailings at the beginning of 2021, most likely aboard ships bound for CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s very own private island in the Bahamas.
“While we are eager to welcome our guests back on board, we have a lot to do between now and then, and we’re committed to taking the time to do things right,” the cruise line said in a statement.
“This includes training our crew in new health and safety protocols and conducting a number of trial sailings to stress-test those protocols in real-world conditions.”
The CDC has said companies must demonstrate that they have robust and rigorous health and safety procedures in place, including adherence to social distancing requirements and having adequate testing and quarantine capacity onboard.