Norwegian pushes back against DeSantis with threat to enforce fully vaccinated cruises
As cruise lines prepare to set sail at the end of the summer, the COVID vaccine passport debate continues to ensue. According to Sun-Sentinel, Norwegian Cruise Lines has made it clear that it will continue its plans to require passengers to be fully vaccinated, at least for now.
According to a new press release posted on the company's site, "All initial voyages will operate with fully vaccinated guests and crew." On Monday, June 7, Norwegian Cruise Lines CEO Frank del Rio also confirmed that his staff and legal team are working to implement ways to ensure cruises are safe when they resume.
"We are currently in communication with his staff and legal counsel to ensure that we can offer the safest cruise experience for our passengers departing from the cruise capital of the world," del Rio said.
The move comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) continues his push to ban vaccine passports across the state. Last month, the Republican governor signed an executive order banning COVID passports.
At the time, DeSantis also released a statement explaining the reason for his executive order.
"Over the last year, we've avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown Governors. This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses," DeSantis said last month. "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. I'd like to thank President Simpson, Speaker Sprowls, and the Florida Legislature for getting this legislation got across the finish line."
The order quickly led to blowback from Democratic lawmakers, cruise line CEOS, and cruise analysts. Now, DeSantis is accusing the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of discrimination and "unlawful overreach" with the requirement for COVID vaccine passports. However, experts argue otherwise.
"It would be very difficult, and very unwise, for Florida to stop a company from doing a vaccine passport," said Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization's Collaborating Center on National and Global Health. He added, "The message is that you may think you have a very effective vaccine, and you might desperately need this for your own health and safety and for your business to thrive, but you can't do it."