May 5 (UPI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday provided guidelines for cruise ships conducting trial voyages as the industry seeks to return from its pandemic-forced closure.
The CDC shared a list of technical instructions for simulated voyages featuring volunteer passengers a week after declaring that cruise lines can return to American ports by mid-July once meeting certain requirements.
"These instructions reflect CDC's reasoned judgment based on the best available current science regarding the subject areas covered in the document," the health agency said. "Cruise ship operators should carefully consider and incorporate these instructions in developing their own health and safety protocols."
According to the guidelines, cruise ship operators should request approval from the CDC to conduct a simulated voyage at least 30 days before the simulation is set to take place.
Simulated voyages will have at least 10% passenger capacity and can last two to seven days.
Volunteers for the cruises must be at least 18 years old but they are not required to have received a COVID-19 vaccine. However, passengers who are not vaccinated will be required to provide written documentation from a healthcare provider or a self-certified statement that they have no medical conditions that would place them at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness, according to CDC guidance.
All volunteer passengers must also agree to be evaluated for COVID-19 symptoms before embarking and disembarking and to be tested for the virus three to five days after the cruise.
Cruise lines seeking to return to the seas must conduct one test voyage for each ship, unless they meet vaccination requirements for crew members, staff and passengers.
Last week, the CDC said that cruises from American ports can resume without restrictions if cruise lines can show that 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.