In an overwhelming response revealing powerful pent-up demand for cruise vacations, Royal Caribbean has received more than 100,000 applications in less than a week to take part in a trial cruise since putting out the call.
President and CEO Michael Bayley shared the milestone on social media. “And just like that…100,000 people have volunteered. We can’t wait to start this next phase with you all!”
Part of the process for any cruise line to receive CDC approval to restart cruises is to conduct a series of test sailings with volunteer passengers onboard.
In Royal Caribbean’s case, trial cruises are expected to be short voyages to the line’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, with the goal of testing out new health and safety protocols that will be implemented on all its vessels.
During the simulated sailings, all the normal activities one would experience on a cruise will take place. All crew and voluntary passengers must follow testing protocols, which will include rapid testing prior to both embarkation and disembarkation. The ships will also create fake scenarios in which a crew member is infected and guests must be quarantined.
Late last week, the cruise line launched the ‘Volunteer of the Seas’ Facebook group after receiving thousands of email and phone inquiries about taking part in the test cruises. As of this morning, the group has 38k members.
“Can’t wait to cruise? You’re in the right place,” Royal Caribbean states in the opening to its volunteer Facebook page. “This is your one-stop-shop for updates and next steps about joining us on a simulated cruise as we make our return to adventure. Stay tuned to be the first to know more about how to be one of the first back at sea.”
To sign up to be a volunteer on a test voyage, all you have to do is fill out a simple form on a new Trial Cruise Volunteer website. The only major requirement is that all members of the traveling party must be at least 18 years of age. Royal Caribbean will contact you with further information if you are a proper candidate.
At this point, there is no word on which ships will be first to operate simulated sailings or from which ports, although it is likely they will depart from Florida.
The massive response by cruise lovers comes along with the welcome news that a second vaccine candidate, this one from Moderna, is showing excellent promise, along with a previously announced vaccine from Pfizer.
In a new video update, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain hailed the “transformational” progress being made on the vaccine and therapeutic fronts, as well as offering an update on what Royal Caribbean is doing to get approval to offer cruises again.
While Fain acknowledged the current upsurge in illness in the United States and beyond, he says fast-moving advancements give him strong hope that the cruise industry is about to turn a corner after the darkest year in its history.
“It’s the extraordinary improvement in drugs and medical knowledge that’s making COVID-19 progressively less dangerous every single day,” Fain says. “This is the news we’ve been waiting for these past eight months. This is the real turning point.”