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Cruise lines will soon be able to begin test voyages in U.S. waters with volunteer passengers who will help check if ships can sail safely during a pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday gave ship operators the final technical guidelines for the test. CDC action is a step toward a resumption of cruises in U.S. waters, possibly in July, for the first time since March 2020.
A spokeswoman for the cruise industry trade group said the group was reviewing CDC instructions.
Each internship cruise (lasting two to seven days) must have enough passengers to meet at least 10% of the ship’s capacity. Volunteers must be over the age of 18 and be fully vaccinated or free of medical conditions that put them at risk for severe COVID-19.
The ship’s operator must tell passengers that they are simulating unproven safety measures “and that sailing during a pandemic is an intrinsically risky activity,” CDC guidelines state.
Passengers should be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 before and after the trip, and should be tested at least 75% at the end.
Restrictions on board include facial masks and social distancing. The CDC will allow guided land excursions (without wandering alone) if tour operators follow certain standards.
Ships must do at least one practice before resuming regular cruises in U.S. waters, although operators will be able to avoid the requirement if they ensure that 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated.