May 18, 2022

The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship is locked while health officials test a man for coronavirus on February 14, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

Lisa Maree Williams | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Norwegian Cruise Line filed a lawsuit against Florida’s surgeon general in hopes of ending state law preventing the company from requiring customers to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination.

Norwegian called on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to lift the state ban and issue the company with an injunction that would allow it to resume driving, using the health and safety protocols it developed, to comply with the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the court record, Norwegian said the state’s ban is affecting its ability to prevent the virus from spreading on board its ship. As a result, it could be forced to cancel upcoming cruises resulting in a “devastating irreparable loss”.

The company said it would like to require passengers to provide proof of vaccination, but doing so would violate Florida law and prosecute the company and face fines of up to $ 5,000 per passenger that it cannot afford.

“We believe Florida’s ban is on the wrong side of federal law, public health, and science, and is not in the best interests of the best interests of our guests, our crew, and the communities we visit for relief,” the company said in a statement told CNBC, “Our policy of 100% vaccination of guests and crew is consistent and trouble-free in every port we sail from around the world except Florida.”

In the lawsuit, Norwegian alleged that the law violated the First Amendment by blocking communications between a company and its customers; unlawfully disrupts the orderly flow of interstate and international trade without a substantial state interest; and violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing a company from protecting the health and safety of its employees and customers from the pandemic.

The cruise industry is among the last sectors to return to pre-pandemic operations. There were several high profile outbreaks on ships at the start of the health crisis, and health officials are trying to prevent this scenario from happening again. The CDC recently allowed the shipping company to start sailing again with strict health protocols.

Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Cruises have resumed departures from Florida. For these trips, the two cruise lines require unvaccinated passengers to follow safety protocols and purchase travel insurance that covers costs related to Covid-19.

Norwegian shares closed Tuesday, up 4.4% at $ 26.09. The stock has fallen nearly 2.6% since the start of the year.

Norwegian’s first departure from a US port is scheduled for August 7th and its first departure from Florida is scheduled for August 15th.

“Demand for [Norwegian] Cruises has returned in the last few months, however [the company] is still facing challenges to maintain its customers’ confidence in security, especially as these customers are typically older, “Norwegian said in court.