Florida is suing CDC to permit cruises to renew US journey

Maiden voyage of the Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, which was delivered from STX shipyards in Saint-Nazaire to the American shipowner Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd (RCCL).

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state would file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding that cruise ships resume sailing immediately.

“Florida is fighting back today on behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihood depends on the viability of an open cruise industry,” he announced at a press conference. “We don’t believe the federal government has the right to moot a large industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data.”

DeSantis described the CDC’s decision to delay the opening of the US cruise industry as “irrational” and said he believed the lawsuit had a “good chance of success”.

The CDC was not immediately available for comment.

In the first six months of the pandemic, Florida lost $ 3.2 billion to the cruise industry shutdown, including nearly 50,000 jobs that paid $ 2.3 billion in wages, according to a September 2020 report by the Federal Maritime Commission. Since the CDC shut down the U.S. cruise industry last year, the state’s seaports have seen operating revenues decline by nearly $ 300 million. That number is expected to hit nearly $ 400 million in July, the Florida Department of Transportation told CNBC.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the cruise industry during a press conference in Port Miami on April 8, 2021 in Miami, Florida.

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The governor signed an executive order on Friday banning so-called vaccination passports, which should also apply to the cruise industry. Corporations and government agencies cannot require customers or clients to provide evidence of vaccination.

In October, the CDC announced in its framework for the Conditional Sailing Ordinance that Covid spreads more easily on cruise ships than in other environments. The agency cited, among other things, a study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine which found that the virus spread at a rate four times higher on the Diamond Princess cruise, spreading an average of one person to 15 people than at the original epicenter in Wuhan, China, where it was divided from one person to four on average.

Cruise ships extend the interruptions to the landing gear

Royal Caribbean announced Thursday that it would be extending the suspension of some of its voyages from US ports.

Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises’ voyages will be suspended until June 30, according to a press release. However, voyages from new home ports in other regions of the world are still going according to plan.

The Silversea extensions exclude Silver Moon, Silver Origin, and Silver Explorer.

“Safety is a top priority and we know cruises can be safe as we have seen in Europe and Asia,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, in a press release. He remains optimistic about the second half of the year, citing President Joe Biden’s promise that society should return to normal by July 4th.

Disney Cruise Line also announced on Monday that US travel will continue to be suspended until June. This affects the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder sails.

The industry wants to be treated like an airline

Royal Caribbean has carried over 100,000 guests on its ships outside of the United States since the pandemic and seen only 10 cases of Covid, Fain said on CBS This Morning on Thursday. He said he “would like to be treated very similarly to airlines and other modes of transport.”

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. He said cruise lines would “like to be treated in the same way as other sectors such as travel, tourism and entertainment”.

While airlines are able to fly around the world during the pandemic, the cruise industry, which had over 100,000 American jobs before Covid, has struggled for about a year with no travel from its US ports.

“The irony is that an American today can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise but cannot board a ship in the United States,” the Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement on Monday, calling for it urged the CDC to suspend its terms and conditions, which described a gradual return to US cruise operations with no specified date.

Last week, the CDC released technical instructions for cruise lines, including increasing the frequency of Covid case reports from weekly to daily, creating a schedule for all staff to be vaccinated, and performing routine tests. However, this update did not specify a date when cruise ships would be back in service in the United States

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Arnold Donald is CEO of Carnival Corporation.

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