Florida Not Backing Down After Losing Cruise Appeal to CDC

MSC Meraviglia at PortMiami florida, cruise
MSC Meraviglia at Port Miami

This week saw the ongoing battle between the CDC and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reach new heights.

On the weekend, Open Jaw reported the CDC won an appeal on the Florida District Court’s decision that limited the organization’s ability to enforce its rules regarding cruise ship regulations.

That meant the health organization was entitled to enforce what health rules cruise companies need to follow in order to operate out of Florida – as well as the rest of the U.S.

In late APR, the CDC said that cruises could resume by mid-JUL without restrictions if operators could make sure that nearly everyone on board, pax and crew members included, had gotten vaccinated.

That ran afoul of brand-new Florida law banning companies from requiring proof of vaccinations.

Instead of doing anything it could to cooperate with both cruise lines and government agencies to get the cruise business going again in America’s biggest cruise market, Florida decided to take the legal, nuclear route.

The state sued the CDC in APR, saying that Congress had never given the agency the right to control health and safety standards on cruise ships. To nearly everyone’s surprise, it won last month when a Florida judge granted an injunction against the CDC.

The CDC appealed, and at the eleventh hour last week, just before the injunction would have taken effect, a three-judge appellate court panel delayed the injunction in a 2-1 decision.

If the CDC had not won its appeal, all of the terms of its Conditional Sail Order (CSO) that provided the framework for cruise lines to follow to safely resume cruising would have become on 18JUL mere suggestions, not requirements.

Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

But DeSantis did not admit defeat this week. Instead, he doubled down, pledging to take his fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

“Can you just have one agency in the government, without Congress ever passing a law, just basically shutting down an industry?” DeSantis recently asked reporters. “Maybe you don’t care about the cruise industry. Next time, it might be your industry. Next time, it may affect people that you know, or people that depend on this for their livelihood. So I think it raises a lot of important implications.”

At least one cruise line is coming out firmly on the side of the CDC. Norweigan Cruise Line Holdings filed a lawsuit against the Florida Surgeon General over the vaccine passport ban.

“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,” the statement reads.

In NOV, all current CDC restrictions are set to expire. But there are plenty of battles still to be won in the saga of the return to cruising to the state of Florida.

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