Florida sues CDC to allow cruises to resume US cruises, industry pushes for better treatment

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The inaugural voyage of the Symphony of the Seas, the largest ocean liner in the world delivered by the 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 will take legal action against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding that cruise ships be allowed to resume navigation immediately.

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the viability of an open cruise industry, Florida is fighting back today,” he said at a press conference Thursday. “We don’t think the federal government has the right to shut down a major industry for more than a year, based on very little evidence and very little data.”

DeSantis called the CDC’s decision to delay opening the US cruise industry irrational and said he believed the lawsuit would have “a good chance of success.”

The CDC was not immediately available for comment.

The governor on Friday signed an executive order banning so-called vaccine passports, which will also apply to the cruise industry, saying private and public companies are not required to show proof of vaccination.

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to cruise industry media at a PortMiami press conference on April 8, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

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Cruise lines extend travel suspensions

Royal Caribbean announced Thursday that it will extend the suspension of some of its trips from US ports.

Travel by Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises will be on hold until June 30, according to a press release. However, trips leaving new ports in other parts of the world are still going as planned.

Silversea cruises that have extended its suspension exclude Silver Moon, Silver Origin and Silver Explorer.

“Safety is the number one priority, and we know that cruising 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 for the second half of this year, citing President Joe Biden’s promise to get the company back to normal by July 4.

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Disney Cruise Line also announced on Monday that it would still suspend its trips to the United States until June. This will affect its Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder cruises.

Industry demands fair treatment

Royal Caribbean has carried more than 100,000 passengers on its ships outside the United States since the pandemic and has only seen 10 cases of Covid, Fain said Thursday on TBEN This Morning. He said he “would like to be treated in a very similar way to airlines and other means of transportation.”

Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Cruise Line, also expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with TBEN on Wednesday. He said cruise lines would like to “be treated the same as other industries and travel and tourism and entertainment.”

While airlines can fly across the world during the pandemic, the cruise industry, which had more than 100,000 U.S. jobs before Covid, has had to cope with about a year without any travel from its U.S. ports.

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“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 United States,” the International Association of Cruise Lines in a statement, calling on the CDC to lift its framework. for the Conditional Navigation Order, which describes a “framed approach” to bring US cruise operations back with no strict date in sight.

Last week, the CDC released technical guidance for cruise ships, including increasing the frequency of reporting Covid cases from week to week, establishing a plan for all staff to be vaccinated and by implementing routine testing. However, this update did not specify a date for the resumption of cruise line operations in the United States.

“No one can guarantee that anyone is safe from Covid anywhere in America or elsewhere,” Fain told TBEN. “In fact, the irony is that if you get on a boat, you will reduce your risk of contracting the virus.”

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