State Watch

Cruise line CEO says ships may avoid Florida over COVID-19 passport ban

The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. is hinting that Florida’s new ban on COVID-19 passports may force his company to take its business elsewhere, CNN reported on Friday.

“At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that otherwise would have gone to Florida,” Frank Del Rio reportedly said during the company’s quarterly earnings call Thursday.

Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an executive order prohibiting businesses from requesting proof of coronavirus vaccination.

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society,” DeSantis said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance allowing cruise ships to began trial runs with volunteer passengers after being shut down for a year due to the pandemic.

After a successful trial is completed, the cruise line can apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate, allowing them to conduct regular business with paying customers.

Trial trips can be skipped, however, if at least 95 percent of passengers and at least 98 percent of crew members are vaccinated. 

Florida’s ban on providing vaccination proof could thus hinder cruise ships’ ability to restart trips.

“It is a classic state versus federal government issue,” Del Rio said, according to CNN. “Lawyers believe that federal law applies.”

The Norwegian Cruise Line chief said he plans to try to keep a vaccine mandate aboard his ships in place.

“At least in the beginning, 100 percent of our guests and our crew will be vaccinated,” he said. “I think everyone should be wanting to start cruising in the safest possible manner.”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Cruise cruise lines Florida Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Ron DeSantis Vaccination

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