Norwegian CEO Says Company May Skip Florida Ports Due to State's Vaccine Law

Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order banning businesses from requiring customers to show they're vaccinated to receive service.

The restart of cruises in the United States may still be up in the air, but the CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said whenever they do resume, the company may not be stopping in Florida.

The potential clash comes after Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an order banning businesses from requiring customers to show they're vaccinated to receive service. That order puts the state squarely at odds with companies like Norwegian (and its brands Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises) which will require proof of vaccination for all passengers and crew on all sailings through at least Oct. 31.

Norwegian's CEO, Frank Del Rio, told The Associated Press the cruise line would look to destinations in the Caribbean or other states if they couldn't operate in Florida, but added "we certainly hope it doesn't come to that." Currently, Norwegian Cruise Line is planning several summer sailings in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Greece.

Last week, DeSantis signed legislation that includes the order on businesses as well as gives him the power to overrule local measures related to the pandemic like mask mandates, the wire service noted.

Norwegian cruise ship
Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

While Florida — and other states like Texas and Arizona — have shunned vaccine passports, for the most part cruise lines have embraced them. Several cruise lines are requiring vaccines for either all or some guests and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended all passengers and crew get the jab before boarding.

Additionally, the CDC has waived the need for volunteer test sailings for cruise companies that can guarantee 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.

"It is a classic state-versus-federal-government issue," Del Rio said. "Lawyers believe that federal law applies and not state law, but I'm not a lawyer. And we hope that this doesn't become a legal football or a political football."

While Florida may not require proof of the vaccine, the state is making it easier for cruise ship crew to get the jab. Earlier this month, Port Canaveral started vaccinating port workers and ship crew after Florida extended vaccine eligibility to people who provide "goods or services for the benefit of residents and visitors of the State of Florida."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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