Cruise line asks court to overturn Florida’s ban on vaccine passports

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCHL) has asked a court to reject the policy of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to ban cruise lines (and other businesses) from requiring proofs of vaccination from customers.

NCHL has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida asking the court to invalidate the Florida law that implements the DeSantis ban.

NCHL also asked that the court grant it a preliminary injunction which would enable its ships to resume sailing “safely” with its stringent health and safety protocols.

NCHL said that “the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our number one priority. In an effort to do our part as a responsible corporate citizen to prevent the spread of Covid-19, in March 2020 our company suspended all cruise operations across our three brands worldwide. The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a global halt to our cruise operations for more than 16 months and has been debilitating for the entire cruise community. The swift deployment of vaccines has been the primary vehicle for people to safely get back to their everyday lives while containing the spread of the virus. Our company has invested heavily in our comprehensive, multi-layered SailSAFE health and safety program with science-backed protocols developed in conjunction with the nation’s top scientific and public health experts.

“With our extensive planning and preparation, we are ready to resume sailing from Florida ports on August 15th 2021. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts we have been unable to reach a reasonable and mutually agreeable solution with the State of Florida that would allow us to require documentation confirming guests’ vaccination status prior to boarding. Despite the ongoing global pandemic and the accelerating spread of the Delta variant, Florida continues to prohibit us from requiring vaccine documentation which we believe would enable us to resume sailing in the safest way possible.

“We believe Florida’s prohibition is on the wrong side of federal law, public health, science and is not in the best interest of the welfare of our guests, crew, and the communities we visit, therefore, we have reluctantly turned to the courts for relief. Today, we ask the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to invalidate Florida’s prohibition and to grant us a preliminary injunction to allow our Company to resume sailing with stringent health and safety protocols to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, further spread of Covid-19.

“We strongly believe in the merits of our submissions, which speak for themselves, and we will not be commenting further outside of court. Our actions today reflect our commitment to resume sailing in accordance with our robust, science-backed SailSAFE health and safety protocols which have mandatory vaccinations at its cornerstone. Our policy of 100% vaccination of guests and crew is consistent and in place without issue in every port we sail from around the world except for Florida.

“Florida is the cruise capital of the world and has been our Company’s home since our founding in 1966 and we pride ourselves on continuing our good relations and contributions to our local community. It gives us no pleasure to be pursuing this lawsuit, which was our last resort. Nothing takes priority over the health and safety of our guest, crew and the communities we visit; our commitment to them is paramount.”