Attorneys for the federal government announced they are withdrawing an appeal in the state of Florida’s fight against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s conditional sailing order. The back-and-forth fight between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) administration and the CDC ends.
Florida and the federal government have been in a legal battle since last summer when the CDC imposed its conditional sailing order on cruise lines. According to the order, cruise ships were required to complete four phases of certification before returning to operation, including vaccination status.
Back in July, DeSantis said the importance of the cruise ship fights extends beyond just the cruise industry.
“The importance of this case extends beyond the cruise industry,” DeSantis said in July. “From here on out a federal bureau will be on thin legal and constitutional ice if and when it attempts to exercise such sweeping authority that is not explicitly delineated by law.”
Some cruise lines decided they were not going to adhere to the constitutional sailing order even with the legal battle unresolved.
“The company intends to meet or exceed the CDC recommendations including 100% vaccinated crew and capacity controlled unvaccinated guests with additional requirements and restrictions,” Crystal Cruises said in August. “Crystal Serenity is currently sailing in the Bahamas with extraordinary Crystal Clean Plus guest safety protocols.”
Norwegian Cruise Lines, who filed a lawsuit against the state specifically targeting Florida law banning vaccine passports, has said they will still be complying with the CDC guidelines even after the conditional sailing order expires.
“Our adoption of the voluntary program provides guests, crew, travel partners and other stakeholders with the assurance that our brands will continue to meet and exceed the provisions laid out by the CDC and provide unparalleled health and safety protocols not found in any other sector of the travel and leisure space,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Of the cruise lines in the United States, Royal Caribbean will require vaccines for passengers aged 12 and up. Carnival Cruises will require the same with few exceptions, Norwegian Cruises is not permitting unvaccinated on board its ships, and Disney Cruises require vaccines for all aged five and up.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), however, is still criticizing the CDC for what it calls targeted measures.
“While we welcome the expiration of the CDC’s conditional sail order, its decision to continue elevated travel health notices is nonsensical,” said WTTC President and CEO, Julie Simpson. “The cruise industry has proven time and again that its enhanced health and safety protocols consistently achieve significantly lower rates of COVID-19 occurrence than onshore. WTTC calls upon the CDC to stop singling out the cruise industry with harmful and unnecessary measures. Cruise lines have an excellent record for health and safety, and cruising continues to offer extraordinary travel experiences.”
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