Judge Rules Florida Cruise Lines Can Require Proof of COVID Vaccination

The Disney Dream cruise ship docked at Castaway Cay.

A federal judge has ruled that Norwegian Cruise Line can require proof of COVID vaccination before allowing guests to sail out of Florida.

While this currently does not affect Disney Cruise Line, it does set a precedent that other Florida cruise lines may choose to enact similar rules going forward.

From NPR…

The decision by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami to grant Norwegian’s request for a preliminary injunction comes despite a state law passed in May that fines businesses that require proof of such vaccinations.

The law, championed by [Florida] Gov. Ron DeSantis, slaps businesses with a fine of $5,000 per violation for asking customers to prove that they have been inoculated against the coronavirus.

In her decision, Williams said Norwegian would likely succeed in a court trial with its argument that Florida’s so-called vaccine passport ban risks public health and infringes on the cruise line’s First Amendment rights.

Williams’ decision also allows Norwegian to proceed with its first trip from Miami since the pandemic widely disrupted the cruise line industry in March 2020. Norwegian Cruise Line is one of several companies that sail from ports in Florida.

“The health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority, today, tomorrow and forever. It’s not a slogan or a tagline, we fiercely mean it and our commitment to these principles is demonstrated by the lengths our Company has gone through to provide the safest possible cruise experience from Florida,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line 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.

Disney Cruise Line currently does not require proof of vaccination, but strongly encourages Guests to be vaccinated before sailing. A few weeks ago, Disney announced that it would require many of its employees to get vaccinated to keep their jobs.

The Disney Dream set sail from Port Canaveral for the first time since the shutdown Monday night.

[Source: NPR]

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