Florida sues CDC to permit cruises to renew U.S. sailings
Maiden voyage of the Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, which was delivered from STX shipyards in Saint-Nazaire to the American shipowner Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd (RCCL).
Andia | Universal Images Group | Getty Images
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state would file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding that cruise ships resume sailing immediately.
“Florida is fighting back today on behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry,” he announced in a press conference on Thursday. “We don’t believe the federal government has the right to moot a large industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data.”
DeSantis described the CDC’s decision to delay the opening of the US cruise industry as “irrational” and said he believed the lawsuit had a “good chance of success”.
The CDC was not immediately available for comment.
The governor signed an executive order on Friday banning so-called vaccination passports, which should also apply to the cruise industry. Private and public companies do not need to provide proof of vaccination.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the cruise industry during a press conference in Port Miami on April 8, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Cruise ships extend the interruptions to the landing gear
Royal Caribbean announced Thursday that it would be extending the suspension of some of its voyages from US ports.
Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises’ voyages will be suspended until June 30, according to a press release. However, voyages from new home ports in other regions of the world are still going according to plan.
The Silversea extensions exclude Silver Moon, Silver Origin, and Silver Explorer.
“Safety is a top priority and we know cruises can be safe as we have seen in Europe and Asia,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, in a press release. He remains optimistic about the second half of the year, citing President Joe Biden’s promise that society should return to normal by July 4th.
Disney Cruise Line also announced on Monday that US travel will continue to be suspended until June. This affects the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder sails.
The industry wants to be treated like an airline
Royal Caribbean has carried over 100,000 guests on its ships outside of the United States since the pandemic and seen only 10 cases of Covid, Fain said on CBS This Morning on Thursday. He said he “would like to be treated very similarly to airlines and other modes of transport.”
Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Cruise Line, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. He said cruise lines would “like to be treated in the same way as other sectors such as travel, tourism and entertainment”.
While airlines are able to fly around the world during the pandemic, the cruise industry, which had over 100,000 American jobs before Covid, has struggled for about a year with no travel from its US ports.
“The irony is that today an American can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise, but cannot board a ship in the US,” the Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement on Monday, calling on the CDC to repeal its framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which describes a “framed approach” for US cruise lines to return with no strict date in sight.
Last week, the CDC released technical instructions for cruise lines, including increasing the frequency of Covid case reports from weekly to daily, creating a schedule for all staff to be vaccinated, and performing routine tests. However, this update did not specify a date when cruise ships would be back in service in the United States
“Nobody can guarantee that anyone anywhere in America or anywhere else is safe from Covid,” Fain told CBS. “Actually the irony is, when you get on a ship, you will reduce your risk of contracting the virus.”