No Cruise Vaccine Exemption In The Works, DeSantis' Office Says
According to a report denied by the governor's office, a cruise exec says a compromise was being discussed that would allow ships to be recognized as in international waters.
A spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis denied a report that the state was nearing a compromise with the cruise industry regarding his hard line against requiring proof of coronavirus vaccinations.
The unofficial Royal Caribbean Blog quotes a Celebrity Cruises executive as telling travel agents in a teleconference last week that “they are working with the governor's office to find a solution to the issue.” The report said audio of the teleconference was “leaked” to the blog.
According to the report, which was picked up by Forbes, the exemption would allow cruise ships in port to be recognized as in international waters and not subject to the vaccine passport ban once customers boarded.
However, DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw said that was an idea floated by one cruise line executive, not the governor’s office.
A DeSantis executive order bans businesses from asking for so-called vaccine “passports.” However, one of two options required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the resumption of cruises is that 95 percent of passengers be fully vaccinated.
The other is to perform test cruises to ensure COVID protocols are working.
DeSantis said last week he plans to fine cruise lines $5,000 per infraction, per the executive order and a new law going into effect July 1.
Due to the pandemic, the cruise industry has been shut down by the CDC for more than 14 months.
Florida is suing the CDC, citing the state's loss of billions of dollars in economic activity and claiming the agency overreached through its guidelines. A federal judge ordered the case to go to mediation, which is ongoing.
Survey: Cruisers want to get onboard
A quick resolution is needed, based on a recent customer survey.
Eighty percent of likely cruisers want to resume sailing on ships that require vaccinations, according to the survey conducted over the Memorial Day weekend by the travel website CruiseCritic.com.
Results of the poll, which generated 5,025 responses, indicate that a majority of cruise consumers do not agree with DeSantis’ decision to extend the vaccine passport ban to cruises.
The respondents weren’t cruise novices: 65 percent said they’ve taken 10 or more cruises.
Slightly over 13 percent said they would rather sail on a ship without a vaccine requirement. While most of those said that they were not planning on getting vaccinated, 21 percent said that they were traveling with others who were unable to get the shots, such as children younger than 12.
Read more about the survey from the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Disney approved for test cruise
Meanwhile, Disney Cruise Line said Tuesday the CDC has approved its request to conduct a two-night test cruise on June 29 on the Disney Dream, departing from Port Canaveral.
The number of cruise lines declaring that passengers would have to be vaccinated increased last week. Celebrity Cruises said it had secured the CDC’s OK to launch a seven-day voyage from Port Everglades on June 26.
That followed announcements of vaccine requirements by other cruise lines, including Silversea Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, for Florida-based voyages.
Information from the Associated Press and South Florida Sun Sentinel was used in this report.