The Florida battle over CDC restrictions imposed on cruise lines continues. Attorneys for the state made their case before a federal judge in Tampa today to reopen the cruise line industry, but the future is still unclear.
“We have one of our major industries that has been idle by the federal government for over a year,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
According to the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ashley Moody, the CDC overstepped its legal authority in shutting the cruise industry down and by not giving clear guidance to reopen.
Florida’s cruise line industry has been locked down for more than a year. The Florida Ports Council estimates the state lost 169,000 jobs and nearly $23 billion in economic activity.
“We’re talking about tens of thousands of jobs. It’s not just those on the ships themselves. It’s the ancillary economy, those that produce for the ships, it’s the tourism that results from people coming into Miami-Dade County,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said cruise lines can resume sailing from the US more quickly if at least 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated. DeSantis sued the agency last month demanding that cruises be allowed to restart immediately.
“We are the cruising capital of the world and we depend on these cruises. We are ready, set and able to deliver vaccinated crew members. We’ve already vaccinated almost 2,000 of them, getting ready to follow through on the CDC policy. We can get up and running in July and this is so important to our local economy,” said Cava.
“If we continue to see more restrictions, if we continue to see a deeper ban on cruising, this is not going to end well for anyone,” said travel industry expert, Sandra McLemore.
McLemore said across the world, cruises have been sailing through the majority of the pandemic. She said if Florida continues on this route, cruise lines will go elsewhere.
“Quantum of the Seas by Royal Caribbean has sailed without drama. They have full protocols, policies and processes in place for testing and if a positive case is found, which it hasn’t yet been, to know exactly what to do there and they have sailed really well out of Asia. Over in Europe, NLC lines have been cruising without drama. We can see here that the cruise lines are responsible, reliable and they want the same thing. It’s all in the interest of public health,” said McLemore.
The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line is threatening to skip Florida’s ports over the governor’s vaccine passport ban. Texas and Alaska have both joined Florida’s lawsuit against the CDC.
“This has a ripple affect throughout all kinds of small businesses [and] mom and pop operations that service the cruise industry,” said DeSantis.