Cruise ships are ready to be back – but the state of Florida wants to have a say in how that happens, specifically when it comes to COVID-19 vaccination.
According to CNN, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has come out against what is commonly referred to as a “vaccine passport”. This has put him at odds with policies that major cruise lines want to implement in order to start cruising again – safely.
What does this potential legal battle mean for the future of cruisers? Read on to find out.
Governor DeSantis’ Position
While DeSantis acknowledges that the cruise industry is key to Florida’s tourism, he seems to be betting on the fact that cruise line operations are too large to flee or fail. How so? He has prohibited businesses in Florida, including cruise lines, from verifying the vaccination status of customers.
DeSantis signed a new state law, beginning on July 1st, that legally prohibits any company from verifying whether or not a person has been vaccinated against COVID. This is in direct conflict with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC states that 95% of crew members and passengers alike should be fully vaccinated in order to prevent potentially deadly outbreaks of the virus. Their goal is to bypass costly and time-consuming trial sailings with a greater number of unvaccinated passengers.
The Position of Cruise Lines
Large cruise lines, such as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, are attempting to negotiate with public health regulators to find a way to work around this new law. They feel that the only way to restore confidence in the safety of cruises is to ensure everyone on board is vaccinated.
Celebrity will be the first to test this new law, as they are to set sail from Florida in late June with the requirement that all passengers over age 16 be fully vaccinated.
Of course, cruise lines could also just wait out the pandemic. They’re convinced that, as restrictions loosen and people become more comfortable with cruising again, pent-up demand will skyrocket.
The problem is that it will take even longer for jobs to come back if cruise lines wait for the pandemic to improve—not great for the Florida economy or those itching to get back to cruising.
What This Means For You
It’s anyone’s guess what will happen when the new Florida law is put to the test. It’s in the realm of possibility that cruise ships may begin to sail out of ports that do allow them to check passenger vaccine statuses. In the future, if you want to cruise, the port from which you embark may simply not be in Florida.
Some cruise lines have stated they will no longer require vaccination proof in order to cruise, backing down in the face of the new law.
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not you’re comfortable enough to return to cruising. What’s most important: you feel safe, and your health and wellness are not put in danger. That is something only you can decide for yourself.
In the meantime, the legal showdown in Florida between the governor’s office and major cruise lines should be interesting to watch. We shall see how it unfolds. No matter what happens, you can rest assured that cruising will come back, one way or another.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.