Florida governor calls on cruise lines to return to sailing

With cruise lines are already sailing in other parts of the world, Florida’s governor said it’s time for Florida to immediately return to sailing.

Governor Ron DeSantis said he does not agree with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on cruising, and the state’s new ban on vaccine passports puts Florida at odds with CDC’s guidelines on cruises.

Cruises may resume as soon as July. On Wednesday, the CDC released more details on how companies can test voyages with volunteers before starting up paid cruises. CDC officials said ships can skip the test sailings if 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated, and there are COVID-19 testing requirements.

But Florida banned so-called "vaccine passports" to prevent any business from asking for vaccination proof, and that includes cruises.

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"We have a suit in federal court in Tampa where we’re going to try to open this back up. Those folks have a right to work too," said DeSantis. "If you look at what’s going on in Europe, in Asia and in other parts, these cruise lines are sailing. They have been sailing safely even in areas where there’s not widespread vaccine availability."

Carnival Cruise Line told FOX 13 the company is waiting for approval to return to sailing. In a statement, Carnival said: "We are reviewing the guidance issued by the CDC.  At this time, we have not made many any announcements regarding requiring vaccination requirements for guests or crew."

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Norwegian Cruises said they sent a detailed health and safety plan to CDC that includes requiring guests and crew to be fully vaccinated along with having COVID-19 testing.

A spokesperson for Norwegian sent FOX 13 a statement saying, in part: "Once the CDC lifts the Conditional Sailing Order [CSO] to allow for cruising from U.S. ports, we look forward to working with Governor DeSantis to safely resume our operations from Florida ports. As always, our number one priority is protecting the health and safety of guests, crew and the communities we visit. With vaccine mandates and strict health and safety protocols in place, including universal COVID-19 testing, we believe we can provide a uniquely safe and healthy vacation experience."

Royal Caribbean Cruises said the company looks forward to working with the governor on a smooth return to cruising while the cruise line makes progress toward the CDC’s guidelines.

The cruise industry provides thousands of jobs in Florida. The CDC said health guidelines for cruises have to include quarantines for people who may test positive for the virus on board.

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