Norwegian Cruise Lines is suing Florida after the state prohibited vaccination passports, claiming that it cannot restart sailings without verifying that its passengers and personnel are COVID-19-vaccinated.
The firm described the action as a “last option” in a complaint filed Tuesday.
“The State of Florida has indicated that it is preventing (Norwegian) from safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations from Miami, Florida,… in the way that this cruise line has determined will be best for all concerned — with the benefit of documentation confirming that all of its passengers and crew have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” according to the complaint.
The law in Florida threatens to punish businesses by $5,000 if they ask a consumer to provide proof of vaccination. The lawsuit was described as “disappointing” by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, who stated that Norwegian is “discriminating against children and other persons who cannot get vaccinated or who have chosen not to be vaccinated for reasons of health, religion, or conscience.”
“Such pervasive prejudice will not be tolerated by this administration. As a result, Norwegian risks a $5,000 fine if they do not provide proof of vaccination “The governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, stated in a statement to ABC News.
If vaccination mandates are not permitted, business CEO Frank Del Rio has threatened to transfer the company’s ships out of Florida.
“At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers, and rudders,” Del Rio said during an earnings call in May. “And God forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that would have otherwise gone to Florida.”
Norwegian’s inaugural cruise from Miami is set to depart on Aug. 15, but the business has stated that the vaccination passport restriction has put them in a “difficult situation.”
Since March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prohibited most cruising in U.S. waterways. Firms have been working with the CDC to restart sailings under the CDC’s conditional sail order, which includes test cruises and vaccination requirements for cruise companies seeking to resume sailing in the United States.
Sailings from Florida have already begun for certain firms, with the Celebrity Edge leaving Port Everglades on June 26.
A request for a response from the Florida Department of Health was not immediately returned.