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Port Canaveral Cruises Could Restart In June With CDC-Sanctioned Test Runs

Test cruises could start in Cape Canaveral as early as June. (Photo via Port Canaveral board meeting)
Test cruises could start in Cape Canaveral as early as June. (Photo via Port Canaveral board meeting)

Cruise lines could start test-sailing from Port Canaveral next month.

Cruises have been on hold since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order for cruise ships in March of 2020. Now, 14 months later, the CDC has started to approve plans for cruise lines to return to the sea.

The CDC requires cruise lines to do test-run cruises with volunteer passengers before taking paying customers. Port Canaveral CEO Captain John Murray said cruise lines with ships that run out of Port Canaveral have already filed applications to do test-runs.

“Royal Carribbean filed their application for Miami, ours has already been filed as well, and they did hear (Wednesday) that the Miami application was approved by the CDC," Murray said. "It was turned in like 24, 36 hours, so it went pretty quick. So we’re optimistic that we’re gonna start getting some approvals this week and then start putting some ships on the map.”

The all-volunteer test cruises will test infection control plans. The new guidelines include ships having PCR laboratories on board to test for COVID-19.

“Every cruise lines has to have an agreement with a hospital, has to have agreements with a transportation company to move people that might be sick to a hospital, and housing agreements if someone has to be quarantined ashore, so they’ve been working these deals independently," Murray said.

Cruise lines with ships in Port Canaveral applied for CDC test runs - and test runs have been approved in Miami. Cruise lines can restart without a test run if 98 percent of the crew and 95 percent of passengers are vaccinated. However, that could run afoul of a new Florida law forbidding companies from requiring proof of vaccinations.

Florida is suing the CDC over the new cruise line industry guidelines. A judge has ordered that case to go to mediation by June 1.