Cruise ships walking fine-line on vaccine policies

FILE - In this June 5, 2021 file photo, the MSC Orchestra cruise ship leaves Venice, Italy. UNESCOs World Heritage Committee is debating Thursday, July 22, 2021, whether Venice and its lagoon environment will be designated a world heritage site in danger due to the impact of over-tourism alongside the steady decline in population and poor governance. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, file) (Antonio Calanni, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Governor Ron DeSantis has been a champion of restarting cruises on one hand, and the main proponent of not allowing proof of vaccinations for cruises or anything else.

That’s left the cruise industry walking a thin line.

The first cruise to set sail from Florida left on June 26.

The CEO of Celebrity Cruises, Lisa Ludoff-Perlo, told the Economic Club of Florida that the Governor’s prohibition on vaccine passports was a tough hurdle to overcome.

“The state of Florida does not tell us we can’t ask. They can tell us we can’t require. So we are working within those constraints to ensure that we live up to our commitment as a brand that we will sail at least 95 percent vaccinated,” said Ludoff-Perlo.

But the unvaccinated face different protocols on board.

“And, so many are opting not to cruise because of those additional protocols,” said Ludoff-Perlo.

The CEO said surveys show public confidence about cruising has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Speaking virtually, Ludoff-Perlo told the audience that so far, COVID protocols have been working.

“And no one ever said there would not be a case on board. That’s unrealistic, and it’s not going to happen and we are all watching what’s going on in Florida right now,” said Ludoff-Perlo.

And the CEO also said unvaccinated passengers pose their own problems.

“We do have ports of call that will not allow any unvaccinated guests into their ports,” said Ludoff-Perlo.

The question of whether private companies can require proof of vaccination is far from settled, and won’t likely be until the state takes the case to the US Supreme Court.

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against Florida’s ban on vaccine passports as it applies to Norwegian, ruling the cruise line can require vaccination proof as the case moves forward because it’s likely they’ll ultimately succeed.


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