Jul 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sues Florida over law banning vaccine passports

Photo of a massive white cruise in the ocean
Photo: Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

One of the world's biggest cruise companies filed a federal lawsuit in Florida on Tuesday over a law that bans vaccine passports, Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Norwegian Cruise Line had threatened to pull its ships from Florida ports after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill in May barring businesses from requiring customers' proof of vaccination.

  • Cruise ships were one of the first super-spreader sites for the coronavirus.

Details: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, is asking the court to block the law.

  • The company, which plans to restart cruises out of Florida in August with a full vaccination policy for all crew and passengers through Oct. 31, indicated that it would not be able to operate in the state if the law remains in effect.
    • Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that cruise ships won't need to mandate vaccines, but cruise operators still have to satisfy CDC guidelines, per WSJ. One way to get the green light is to ensure a 95% vaccination rate for crew and passengers.
  • The company also argues that banning information involving vaccine documentation affects freedom of speech protections. The lawsuit states that canceling itineraries for ships out of Miami could lead to revenue losses of roughly $4 million per seven-day cruise, according to WSJ.
  • Florida signed the ban into law in May.

Worth noting: Caribbean Group, Norwegian's competitor, is abiding by the law but will subject unvaccinated people to additional costs and restrictions, per WSJ.

The big picture: There's much higher public support for government-imposed vaccine mandates than businesses' use of "vaccine passports," even if they're called something else, according to recent surveys by the COVID States Project, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

Correction: An earlier headline incorrectly stated that Norwegian Cruise Line rather than its parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is suing over the law.

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