ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s cruise industry lawsuit against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is heading to mediation.
District Court Judge Steven D. Merryday on Tuesday signed an order saying the state and U.S. government must participate in the mediation prior to June 1.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a lawsuit in April against the the CDC and the HHS to allow cruises, which have been halted for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, to restart in the United States. Alaska and Texas later joined the lawsuit.
“We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC, demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately,” DeSantis said last month at the Port of Miami.
The CDC last month 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.
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.
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 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.