Cruise Ship

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, stops foreign-flagged cruise ships from penalization for transporting passengers directly between two U.S. ports circumventing the usual stopover in Canada. This allows the first large cruise ships to sail between Seattle and Alaska in more than a year. Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Eligible commercial cruise lines can start conducting test trips with volunteer passengers as a precursor to resuming regular voyages in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control informed cruise ship operators last week.

Those test trips — which will last between two to seven days — will have volunteer passengers participate in simulations  and health-safety drills, under CDC guidance.

In order to sail, ships must be at 10% of capacity with volunteers who will fill the role of paying passengers. The test trips also will have restrictions that limit activities at ports of call.

Royal Caribbean — the first cruise line to announce plans for test voyages — has received more than 150,000 sign-ups from people interested in volunteering for a cruise.

Individuals fill out a simple online questionnaire and provide contact information.

Other cruise lines are expected to follow with similar announcements.

Cruise ships with a requirement of at least 95% of passengers vaccinated and 98% of crew vaccinated will be able to bypass the test requirement and sail with paying passengers, according to the CDC.

The trial voyages will involve simulations to test how well the cruise ship operator mitigates the risk of Covid-19 onboard and responds to health drills that relate to Covid-19.

Volunteer passengers will participate in the simulations, the CDC said in a lengthy written update published last week for cruise ship operators. 

According to the CDC: “All volunteer passengers must be informed in writing that they are participating in a simulation of health and safety protocols that are unproven and untested in the United States for purposes of simulating a cruise ship voyage and that sailing during a pandemic is an inherently risky activity.”

In order to volunteer, individuals must:

Be at least 18 years old.Show proof of being fully vaccinated or provide written documentation that they have no medical conditions that would result in serious complications from Covid-19.Provide signed informed consent of travel-related participation, which includes passage, accommodations, food and beverages, shore excursions and onboard entertainment.Be evaluated for Covid-19 prior to departure and agree to notify cruise ship medical staff if symptoms develop.Undergo “post-disembarkation specimen collection for Covid-19 testing at 3 to 5 days after completion of the simulated voyage.”Ports of call shore excursions will be limited and restricted during the test voyages.

Self-guided or independent exploration at ports of call will be prohibited. Shore excursions will only include passengers and crew from the same ship.

Cruise ship operators will be responsible for ensuring that land-based tour companies facilitate social distancing, mask wearing and other Covid-19 public health measures, according to the CDC.

To volunteer for the test cruises visit this link:


Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or follow her at