Disney's 'Test Cruise' Later This Month Is A Go

by Madison Vanderberg
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

Disney Cruise Line sets sail at end of June 2021

We’re getting closer to cruises being a thing again as Disney Cruise Line is setting sail later this month for a so-called “test cruise,” and here’s what that means.

The long-story-short is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told all the major cruise lines what COVID-19 precautions they would need to take to set sail again, but before the cruise lines open their doors to passengers, they must do a “simulated cruise” first aka a test run, so to speak, to make sure they can actually comply with all the necessary COVID-19 safety precautions. If approved, they get to open their doors to actual vacations.

Disney Cruise Lines has plans to operate a simulated cruise from June 29 to July 1, 2021, out of Port Canaveral, Florida.

Disney Cruise line employees can “volunteer” to enjoy the test cruise as a passenger and the two-night simulation will pave the way for actual cruises with paying passengers to set sail at a later date. Currently, only Summer 2022 cruises are available to book on Disney’s website and all previously scheduled cruises through July 31 have been postponed, it’s unclear at this time if postponed cruises will embark later this summer. Celebrity Cruises has also gotten permission to run a test cruise later this month out of Florida as well.

“The ship will sail with volunteer passengers and test our newly developed health and safety protocols, which have been meticulously tailored to the current public health environment. All of these protocols are essential to cruising responsibly, and Disney Cruise Line couldn’t be more committed to making vacation dreams come true as it prioritizes the wellbeing of all who step aboard our ships,” Thomas Mazloum, President of Disney Signature Experiences, said in a statement.

According to the latest CDC updates, there are a number of COVID-19 health and safety recommendations for cruise ships like installing plexiglass barriers and changing restaurant layouts to accommodate social distance, to name a few.

Additionally, cruise ship operators may designate areas as only accessible to fully vaccinated passengers where they are free to abandon masks and social distancing guidelines. Also, ships with at least 98% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated can decide to do away with masks and social distancing for all passengers, if they like.

However — and here’s the tricky part — to find out if 95% of the passengers are vaccinated would require the cruise lines to check every passenger’s vaccination status, which might be impossible considering Florida governor Ron DeSantis recently banned so-called “vaccine passports” and wants to fine businesses for checking customer’s vaccine status. DeSantis sued the CDC over their cruise guidelines and the case is currently being mediated. If the courts favor with the CDC, DeSantis will probably have to pull his anti-vaccine passport mandate. If the courts go with DeSantis, will cruise lines have to find ports outside Florida? Maybe.

It feels like only yesterday we were watching agog as passengers all tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the Diamond cruise ship, but this latest news means that cruise lines are doing everything they can to meet the CDC’s health standards and make sure we never have a repeat of that fateful Diamond cruise.

Here’s to post-vax summer vacations!