An executive order was passed in Florida last month prohibiting the use of Covid-19 passports in the state. The order bans businesses from asking whether employees or customers have been vaccinated against Covid-19. And recently, the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis said that cruise lines operating in the state would be fined $5,000 if they ask passengers for proof of vaccinations.

DeSantis said, “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced guidelines for trial cruises with volunteer guests to test safety measures, which will be required for each ship before resuming regular passenger voyages in US waters. To bypass the trial cruises, at least 95% of crew members and 95% of passengers must be fully vaccinated.

Celebrity is the first cruise line to declare a definitive restart to cruises out of Florida. On Wednesday, the cruise line announced that the CDC had approved its application to restart sailings to the Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades on June 26 with a single ship, the 2,908-passenger Celebrity Edge. The 2-year-old ship will be the first vessel from any cruise line to earn the CDC’s approval to restart regular passenger sailings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrity agreed to operate the ship with at least 95% of vaccinated passengers, as part of its application to restart sailings with Celebrity Edge.

The cruise line said in a statement that it is still finalizing its health and safety measures for sailings that will depart from U.S. ports, including Florida. The cruise line will set up all necessary measures in collaboration with the CDC as well as local authorities, to safeguard the health and well-being of its passengers and crew.

“Our commitment to sail with fully vaccinated crew members and guests still stands as it is a meaningful layer to ensure we make every effort to help keep safe our guests, crew and the communities we visit,” the line said in the statement.

On Thursday, Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., said the new rule could cause the company to suspend departures from Florida and transfer its ships elsewhere.

Del Rio said, “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.”

He says, when it comes to the cruise industry, he hopes the CDC’s requirements will override the governor’s action. “It is a classic state versus federal government issue,” said Del Rio. “Lawyers believe that federal law applies.”

Norwegian Cruise Line had previously planned to restart its cruises on July 4 and was prepared to require all passengers and staff to be fully vaccinated to gain CDC approval.


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