First simulated cruise ship voyage leaving Seattle will test COVID protocols

Jul 7, 2021, 6:15 PM | Updated: Jul 8, 2021, 10:21 am
(KIRO 7 image)
(KIRO 7 image)

They looked like cruise ship passengers, arriving Wednesday to board the Serenade of the Seas in Seattle.

But they were Royal Caribbean employees, taking a four-day cruise to test COVID-19 protocols in front of CDC observers.

The simulated voyage is carrying 300 vaccinated employees from Seattle to Ketchikan, Alaska, and back.

“We’ve missed our friends in Alaska probably as much as they’ve missed us,” said Mark Tamis, senior vice president at Royal Caribbean International.

When regular Alaska sailings resume July 19, all Royal Caribbean passengers who are eligible to be vaccinated must show proof they’ve had the shots.

On the simulated voyage, some workers will play the part of unvaccinated passengers who get aboard anyway, and get sick, to test protocols.

“Some of it is scripted, and some will be off script, but that’s really what happens in real life,” Tamis said.

During Royal Caribbean’s first simulated cruise from Florida, where vaccinations are not required, 150 of 600 people on board played the role of unvaccinated passengers, according to Miami media reports.

“The simulation voyage passed with flying colors,” Tamis said.

Royal Caribbean tends to carry more kids under 12, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, so that means fewer than 95% of the people onboard will be fully vaccinated. That’s why the cruise line is doing the simulated voyage with the CDC.

Other cruise lines are only taking passengers who are old enough to be vaccinated and are not required to conduct the same kind of simulated voyage.

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First simulated cruise ship voyage leaving Seattle will test COVID protocols