The fight between cruise lines and the state of Florida has been going on for months. In the interest of safety and public health, several cruise lines wanted to be able to require passengers to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID before boarding in Cape Canaveral, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other Florida ports. But Florida governor Ron DeSantis vowed to fine cruise lines $5000 per passenger for requesting such “personal medical information,” to the point where he signed it into law in April of this year.
Norwegian Cruise Line planned to require proof of vaccinations for all of its passengers and therefore brought the state of Florida to court.
The cruise line said it’s scheduled to resume sailing Aug. 15 and that “one anomalous, misguided intrusion (read: the vaccine passport ban) threatens to spoil NCLH’s (read: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’) careful planning and force it to cancel or hobble upcoming cruises, thereby imperiling and impairing passengers’ experiences and inflicting irreparable harm of vast dimensions.
“The upshot places NCLH in an impossible dilemma as it prepares to set sail from Florida: NCLH will find itself either on the wrong side of health and safety and the operative federal legal framework, or else on the wrong side of Florida law,” the lawsuit said.
The cruise line also contends that the ban violates the First Amendment and what is known as the “dormant Commerce Clause” of the U.S. Constitution.
Reuters is now reporting that a U.S. federal judge ruled on Sunday night that it’s within the rights of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH.N) to ask for and document passengers’ COVID-19 immunization status.
With his eye on a bid for the presidency in 2024, DeSantis has put himself into the position of a national figure for opposing COVID restrictions. Focusing more on privacy and personal freedom than science and medicine, he’s also prevented local Florida governments from having COVID-related mandates such as mask use, or businesses, government entities or schools in the state from requiring proof of COVID immunity before rendering services.
Meanwhile, Florida currently accounts for 20% of new cases of COVID in the United States.
Sunday night’s ruling is a sigh of relief for Norwegian and cruisers alike.
“The health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority, today, tomorrow and forever,” Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of the company, said in a statement.
“We want nothing more than to sail from Miami, the Cruise Capital of the World, and from the other fabulous Florida ports and we welcome today’s ruling that allows us to sail with 100% fully vaccinated guests and crew which we believe is the safest and most prudent way to resume cruise operations amid this global pandemic,” he continued.
Of course, this won’t be the end of the battle. Representatives for the state were already hinting on Friday that they were willing to bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
Meanwhile, Norwegian’s first post-COVID cruise is currently scheduled for August 15th and the cruise line is committed to having 100% of its passengers be vaccinated against COVID.
Feature Photo: Chesipiero/ Wikimedia
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary