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Royal Caribbean Rises After CDC Approves U.S. 'Mock' Test Sail

Royal Caribbean trades higher after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives the company's Freedom of the Seas ship the nod to do a test sailing in U.S. waters.

Royal Caribbean  (RCL)  was trading higher on Wednesday after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave one of the company's ships the nod to do a test sailing in U.S. waters.

Shares of Royal Caribbean were up nearly 3% after receiving provisional approval from the CDC to begin mock voyages in June, bringing the cruise operator a step closer to sailing out of the U.S. after more than a year of being docked due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cruise line's Freedom of the Seas ship will be allowed to sail with volunteer passengers out of the Port of Miami. Vaccine requirements are not mandatory for test sailings per the CDC's Framework for Conditional Sailing Order.

The move came after the company submitted a port agreement, another prerequisite for getting the CDC's green light. Norwegian Cruise Line  (NCLH)  last week said it plans to return to U.S. sailings in August.

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Cruise ships' ability to sail depends on obtaining the conditional-sailing certificate from the CDC. The CDC has said that cruise ships can proceed to passenger sailings, without test cruises, if they attest that 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.

After more than a year of losses, cruise operators are banking on getting that approval sooner than later. Royal Caribbean and its peers, Carnival  (CCL)  and Norwegian Cruise Line , have outlined plans to restart Alaska sailings this summer. 

Congress passed a bill last week that would let cruise ships sail directly from Washington state to Alaska, temporarily waiving a part of maritime law prohibiting foreign-flagged vessels from transporting passengers between two U.S. ports.

Foreign-flagged vessels, such as cruise ships, had been required to stop at a foreign port - Canada, in this case - under U.S. law. Canada currently has a ban on large cruise ships in its waters through to the end of February 2022.

Shares of Royal Caribbean were up 2.67% at $91.39. The stock has gained more than 28% since the start of the year. Carnival shares were up 1.54% at $29.02, while shares of Norwegian were up 1.7% at $31.65.