Royal Caribbean International is offering volunteers a free trial cruise to put its Covid-19 measures to the test – and thousands have already rushed to be on board.
Cruise lines are required by the US Centers for Disease Control to carry out the test sailings to show they’re doing everything to prevent the spread of coronavirus on their ships.
Once they’ve successfully completed a simulated voyage, the CDC, which halted all cruises because of the pandemic in March, can award a Conditional Sailing Certificate or ask the cruise line to modify its practises and protocols and carry out more ‘mock’ cruises.
‘It’s time to get back to adventure,’ Royal Caribbean said in a Facebook post. ‘You read that right. We’re looking for guests who want to be the first back at sea.’
Royal Caribbean has set up a site called Volunteer of the Seas where past guests can apply.
‘We’re doing a series of sailings using our employees and volunteers to test the new protocols and make modifications to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that we still deliver that Royal Caribbean amazing vacation experience’
The cruises may be free but insiders have warned they’re unlikely to be like a standard cruise as they’re to ensure protocols in place are effective.
‘We are going to be doing a series of sailings using our employees and other volunteers to test out the new protocols and make tweaks and modifications to ensure that everything is running smoothly and still deliver that Royal Caribbean amazing vacation experience,’ said Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean’s senior vice president of sales and trade support.
The sailings will take place early next year and are thought to be on ships bound for CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s own private island in the Bahamas.
Ardent Royal Caribbean fans have rushed to apply in their thousands and have written hundreds of messages of support for the ‘mock’ cruises.
‘Signed my husband and myself up to be volunteers,’ one guest wrote. ‘We bought more memory for our tablets to watch movies, a bunch of masks, medicines and travel games. We’re covid prepared! We’d love to test out scenarios for Royal.’
‘We miss cruising so much,’ said another. We were on the last sailings in March 2020 and hope to be on the first sailing when you get the all clear.’
‘Signed up,’ another wrote. ‘This nurse practitioner needs a break and the ability to assess if my patients are safe to cruise as well.’
A husband who volunteered said: ‘My wife and I were supposed to do our 20 year anniversary cruise to Alaska back in June. We were very sad we couldn’t go…We would LOVE to volunteer for a trial run!’
You must be over 18 to volunteer, have sailed with Royal Caribbean before, and need written proof that you have no pre-existing medical conditions that would place you at high-risk for Covid-19
The call-out came as seven passengers tested positive for coronavirus on board the first Caribbean cruise to sail since March. The cruise on Sea Dream 1 was cut short after the outbreak and all passengers were quarantined in their cabins until those who tested negative were allowed to disembark in Barbados. Those who tested positive were either taken to an isolation centre or flown home by private plane.