PORT OF MIAMI, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that Florida has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. federal government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding cruises be allowed to begin sailing again from Florida’s ports.
“Today, Florida’s fighting back. We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC, demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately,” DeSantis said while standing in front of a group of furloughed workers at the Port of Miami.
This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state. https://t.co/I0uLeBzZqZ— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 8, 2021
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said Florida filed a lawsuit Thursday morning against the CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Biden Administration, demanding the no sail order be lifted.
Earlier in the week, the CDC added new guidelines for cruise lines, saying ships must make test voyages, implement routine coronavirus testing and develop a strategy to vaccinate crews. However, the CDC has also adjusted travel guidelines adding that vaccinated individuals can travel domestically and internationally.
The CDC has not made it clear when it would lift its no sail order.
Cruise lines stopped sailing nearly a year ago in the United States.
Multiple cruise lines have canceled trips through late summer. Carnival Cruise Line canceled sailings through June and Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line is seeking permission to resume trips from U.S. ports on July 4, requiring passengers and crew members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks before the trip.
The Miami company said its precautions go well beyond steps taken by others in the travel and leisure industry that have already reopened, including airlines, hotel, restaurants and sporting events.
Monica Sebata, a former employee with Cruiseport Destinations in Miami, said workers in the industry are struggling not only financially but mentally.
“We don’t want to hand out. What we want is to go back to work. What we need is to go back to work. It’s not just the financial aspect, it’s the emotional and the mental and the physical well being of these people of all of us,” Sebata said.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Miami) joined DeSantis, criticizing the U.S. for preventing cruises from sailing when other countries have reopened the industry.
“They’re sailing in Asia, they’re sailing in Europe and the United States is actually the leader in vaccinate and vaccinations. It’s time to let these ships sail, it’s time to let these people get back to work,” Gimenez said.
Port Canaveral Authority’s Director and Chief Executive Officer Capt. John Murray said the last year has been “absolutely devastating” for the entire industry and that it’s time to get the business back up and running. He hopes the lawsuit is a step in the right direction.
Murray said he appreciated DeSantis and Moody taking action to encourage the CDC to allow sailing again soon.
“I commend the governor and the executive team for the state of Florida recognizing the serious nature of the downturn and the fact that we have one singular industry that’s been sidelined through this pandemic,” Murray said.
He said he doesn’t believe the CDC moved the needle at all with its latest set of guidelines.
Murray said if allowed to sail soon, cruise lines know there would be a lot on the line. Because of that, he says he’s confident that they’ll get it right if given the chance.
He said the cruise lines are ready to sail and that if “they can’t operate here, they’ll go somewhere else,” something he says the U.S. shouldn’t let happen out of fears they won’t bring their business back down the road.
Cruise lines have also issued statements regarding the lawsuit.
“As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on third-party litigation. As we’ve outlined in our proposed plan to safely resume cruising, we look forward to partnering with the CDC to engage in meaningful discussions. We believe the time has come for cruising to resume from U.S. ports. Our proposed plan, including 100% vaccinations of guests and crew, universal testing and multi-layered health and safety protocols, is consistent with the CDC’s updated travel guidance,” said a Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings spokesperson.
Carnival Cruise Line officials released the following statement:
“We are aware of the lawsuit and share the sense of urgency of getting Americans back to work. Our focus is trying to work with the CDC on a plan to resume cruise operations this summer.”
Check back for updates on this developing story.