Royal Caribbean International is expanding its European regional sales division as the line seeks volunteers to participate in mock cruises in preparation for a return to service in the US.

A special ‘Volunteers of the Seas’ Facebook page set up on Wednesday to recruit people for the simulated sailings attracted thousands of expressions of interest by the following lunchtime.

The line hopes to test Covid protocols as it seeks approval from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to resume sailing after all global cruises were cancelled in March due to the pandemic.

It remains unclear when the test cruises will take place while the company reviews the CDC’s framework for a safe return to operations.

A spokesperson said: “Royal Caribbean has some of the most loyal guests in the cruise industry, and we have been overjoyed with their interest to take part in our simulated trial sailings.

“This week alone, we have received more than 5,000 emails, not including the tweets, comments and messages across social media.

“We have a lot of details to work out to make sure everyone’s experience onboard is as safe and as enjoyable as we can make it.

“So, while we currently have no dates to announce yet we are excited about the interest we have received so far – we can’t wait to finally welcome our guests back on board.”

The CDC announced last month a four-phased approach to resuming limited cruises in the US, replacing a no-sail order with a “conditional sailing” framework for a return of passenger voyages.

Royal Caribbean International has created three new roles as it expands its sales force in the UK and Europe.

Two of the key account manager positions are UK-based, including a German-speaking role, with the other based in Norway.

EMEA vice president Ben Bouldin said: “We are aware of the challenge ahead of us next year as we recommence our sailings after a pause of several months.

“Now that the CDC has lifted the no sail guidelines, we are working hard to ensure we are ready to welcome our guests back on board and we are taking the time to do things right.

“We are extremely confident in our European product offering next summer and hope to maximise the booking potential by bringing in three new sales team members to help us capitalise on the pent-up demand across Europe.

“The successful candidates will be joining a fantastic team and will be focused on keeping sales high and building the Royal Caribbean International brand.”