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Test cruises with volunteer passengers are on the horizon as CDC issues new guidance

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The Carnival Vista cruise ship is seen sailing during a full Pink Super moon in Miami Beach, on April 26, 2021.

The return of passenger-filled cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters is in sight.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released additional guidance for cruise ships with instructions for trial voyages with volunteer passengers meant to take place in advance of sailings that include paying passengers.

“With the issuance of these next two phases, cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages and apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate to begin sailing with restricted passenger voyages,” the CDC said on its website, noting it may adjust requirements and recommendations in the future. 

Cruise ships with a vaccine requirement of at least 95% of passengers vaccinated and 98% of crew vaccinated will be able to bypass the test sailing requirement and go straight to sailings with paying passengers, Caitlin Shockey, CDC spokesperson, confirmed to USA TODAY Wednesday, pointing to clarifications issued by the CDC to the cruise industry in a letter last week.

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