Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) has sued Floria’s surgeon general for its policy of punishing businesses that require vaccination passports with fines. The suit coincided ahead of Norwegian’s announcement that it guarantees 100% vaccinated cruises.
In its filing, Norwegian calls the suit a “last resort” to keep the state of Florida from acting punitively against them for requiring full vaccinations to get on their cruises. Before that, Norwegian had announced that sailings booked on October 31 would have 100% vaccinated guests and crew.
Norwegian in an ‘impossible dilemma’
Nevertheless, in April, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis signed an executive order that slaps businesses that require vaccine passports and any similar documentation with a $5,000 fine per incident. That executive order became official law on May 3.
DeSantis explained that Florida considers vaccinations as a personal choice and as such, will be protected. Therefore, no government agency or business can require vaccinations as a prerequisite for services.
However, Norwegian requires proof of COVID-19 vaccinations from all passengers and crew members.
In the cruise line’s complaint, filed in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, it said that the company now faces an “impossible dilemma” as it seeks to decide whether to follow health and safety standards under federal law or uphold Florida law.
It emphasized that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has passed regulations to ensure that businesses open safely. Asking for vaccine documentation, according to the cruise line, only seeks to reduce deaths from COVID-19. However, adhering to such standards will risk a penalty under Florida law.
Essentially, Norwegian claimed that the Florida vaccination proof ban would leave it with no choice but to cancel scheduled cruises.
The line’s first sailing from the US is slated on August 7, and it sails from Florida on August 15.
Proof of vaccination ban asked to be lifted
Norwegian said that it had to seek the court’s intervention because it could not fulfill its guarantee to passengers who fully support requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Furthermore, if Florida enforces its vaccination proof ban, sailings will risk being canceled, disrupted, or face a coronavirus outbreak. Worse, it could potentially spread the more contagious Delta variant of the virus. Therefore, Norwegian decided to push through with its requirement of full vaccinations for passengers and crew under these premises.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Group, another cruise line, has implemented COVID-19 testing for those leaving Florida without showing vaccination documentation. Guests who cannot show a vaccine passport will shoulder the cost of the tests.
Norwegian threatens move
If the suit does not prevail, Norwegian CEO Frank del Rio said this might precipitate a decision to transfer their ships to another location.
Del Rio said that should they be prevented from doing business in Florida due to a vaccination proof ban, there are other states from which they can operate their Caribbean cruises from.
NCLH has three cruise lines operating, namely Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.