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Florida appeals verdict in cruise ship vaccine requirement lawsuit

07 Oct 2021

The State of Florida is ready for another round of a legal fight over mandating Covid-19 vaccines.

Norwegian Cruise Line cancels May 2021 cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) won a lawsuit earlier this summer against Florida over a state law that banned businesses from denying entry to customers who were not vaccinated.

Florida filed documents on October 4th with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to appeal the preliminary injunction NCLH won, and asking the appeals court to vacate the decision.

United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams granted NCLH the preliminary injunction, but Florida wants that decision reversed.

In the 69-page filing, Florida argues the U.S. constitution gives companies no right for private companies to refuse service to prospective customers who fail to disclose private medical documentation.

NCLH argued that Florida's law violated its First Amendment rights and dormant Commerce Clause claims.

Florida says its law that was shot down by NCLH's lawsuit neither violates the First Amendment nor the Commerce Clause.

Section  381.00316  does  not  violate  the  First  Amendment  because  it  affects  what    businesses    cannot    do—condition    service    on    customers    providing    documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination—“not what they may or may not say,” Rumsfeld v. FAIR, Inc., 547 U.S. 47, 60 (2006), and thus does not implicate the First Amendment. Indeed, FAIR and Wollschlaeger v. Governor of Florida, 848 F.3d 1293 (11th Cir. 2017) (en banc), compel this result. 

Nor  does  Section  381.00316  violate  the  dormant  Commerce  Clause.  Under  the Pike  balancing  test—the  analysis  that  all  parties  agree  applies  to  the  statute—Florida’s  law  is  constitutional  because  any  indirect  effects  it  has  on  interstate  commerce  do  not  clearly  exceed  the  local  benefits  of  the  law.

In May 2021, Florida passed a new law that banned businesses, schools, and government agencies from requiring people to show documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccinations or post-infection recovery before gaining entry.

Breaches of this law would face a fine of $5,000 per violation.

Subsequently, in July 2021, NCLH sued Florida to get an injunction against the law, because the company says the law prevents them from operating their business safely.

NCLH believes the law puts them, "in an impossible dilemma" to operate sailings from Florida.  In their view, they would either have to be "on the wrong side of health and safety" or on the wrong side of Florida law.

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO says July cruises from U.S. "not possible" | Royal Caribbean Blog

Judge Williams agreed with NCLH's points, and said the law did not go far enough if it meant to protect the medical privacy of private citizens.

The Judge pointed out that businesses and employers are able to require Covid-19  test results, hospital records,other vaccination records, as well as information regarding exposure to third parties with Covid-19.  Therefore, Florida failed to explain why proof of Covid-19 vaccination documents are more medically sensitive or need more protection than these other documents.

Norwegian Cruise wins lawsuit against Florida over Covid-19 vaccine passport ban

08 Aug 2021

Florida's showdown over businesses being able to require customers to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccine has ended in a legal loss.

United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams granted Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) a preliminary injunction which would allow a cruise line to require passengers to prove they are vaccinated against Covid-19 if sailing from Florida.

Judge Williams said in the docket that the combination of trying to restore consumer confidence and the Delta variant contributed to NCLH's win.

"Businesses face unprecedented challenges, including the understandably difficult tasks of restoring consumer confidence and minimizing the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the nation is now threatened by new virus variants that are more transmissible than the initial strain."

NCLH sued Florida because it wanted to ensure every single person sailing on its ships are vaccinated, which would violate a Florida law that was passed earlier this year banning such a practice.

In May, the Florida Legislature passed and Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill stating that all business entities “may not require patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or services from the business operations in this state,” subject to the imposition of a fine not exceeding $5,000 per violation.

The cruise line sued Florida so that it could restart sailings from Florida on the Norwegian Gem on August 15, 2021, and the company had adopted a policy requiring all passengers on its vessels to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to provide documentation confirming their vaccination status before boarding.

NCLH argued that law violated its First Amendment rights and dormant Commerce Clause claims.

Judge Williams felt the fact the law allows businesses to require proof of a Covid-19 vaccine for its employees, while at the same time cannot demand the same proof of its customers makes it known as a "content-based restriction".

The Judge pointed out that the law prevents proving a customer is vaccinated, but allows the cruise lines to limit unvaccinated passengers’ access to events, activities, and venues.

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas do not have access to certain dining venues, the casino, art auctions, the indoor pool, or the spa and during shows, they are required to sit in the back of the theater. (DE 35-1 at 22–29.) Princess and Carnival have also limited the excursions available to unvaccinated guests at ports of call.  Thus, Section 381.00316 does not prohibit businesses from treating unvaccinated passengers differently by charging them more while offering them less. 

She also pointed out that adult-only cruises, which exclude a significant amount of unvaccinated people (children), is not prohibited under the law.

In sum, if combatting discrimination were the goal, merely banning the exchange of COVID-19 vaccination documentation is an ineffective way to accomplish this objective because the Statute does not directly prohibit the treating of unvaccinated persons or those who decline to verify their vaccination status by businesses and employers differently.

In addition, the privacy of customers is not protected by this law, saying it is "far too underinclusive" to protect medical privacy, if that were a goal of it.

The Statute does not govern employers, who are free to require COVID-19 vaccination documentation from employees, and Defendant does not explain why the exchange of these documents is less intrusive on medical privacy in the employment context.

The Judge pointed out that businesses and employers are able to require Covid-19  test results, hospital records,other vaccination records, as well as information regarding exposure to third parties with Covid-19.  Therefore, Florida failed to explain why proof of Covid-19 vaccination documents are more medically sensitive or need more protection than these other documents.

During the hearing, it was divulged the law does not prohibit a business from providing their Covid-19 vaccine status orally, nor does it prevent a company from retaining, disclosing, or publishing a person’s Covid-19 vaccination status.

Cruise lines have subjected unvaccinated passengers to different policies that easily disclose their unvaccinated status.

Royal Caribbean provides unvaccinated patrons with a “hole punched in their SeaPass” to indicate their status to crewmembers and segregates these passengers to one deck of the main dining room

In addition to NCLH's First Amendment claim, Judge Williams agrees that the law imposes substantial burdens on interstate commerce that will directly affect their abilities to operate the Norwegian Gem and other vessels.

Hearing held in Norwegian Cruise lawsuit against Florida in vaccine passport ban

06 Aug 2021

Lawyers for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) and the State of Florida were in court on Friday to deliberate the merits of the lawsuit against a ban on Covid-19 vaccine passports.

The preliminary injunction hearing was held in a virtual court hearing between attorneys from both parties as Judge Kathleen M. Williams in Miami heard both sides of the case.

This court case is NCLH's claim that Florida's law that prohibits businesses from requiring proof of Covid-19 immunity in return for a service. Violations of this law come with a $5,000 penalty per violation. It went into law as of July 1.

In May, Florida signed a new law that prohibits businesses, schools, and government agencies from requiring people to show documentation certifying Covid-19 vaccinations or post-infection recovery before gaining entry.

The attorneys for NCLH argued a variety of issues, primarily focusing on company's first amendment right by restricting the flow of information with customers and interferes with interstate commerce.

NCLH sued Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, because he is the head of Florida's Health Department.

Florida justifies the law by saying it is enacted to protect against discrimination privacy concerns.

The cruise line felt the law was passed by Florida's legislature without any proof there was an actual problem with a particular industry to substantiate concerns vaccine requirements were creating any sort of problem.

In the case of protecting against discrimination, NCLH's lawyer pointed out employers can can still require vaccine documentation for Covid-19 from employees, suppliers, or contractors.

Florida said a cruise line can ask for proof of vaccination and its customers are free to provide it, but the cruise line cannot deny entry to the ship for anyone who declines to provide documentation.

Norwegian is planning to restart cruises from Florida on August 15, but wants the Florida vaccine passport ban lifted before then so the company does not violate the law each time a passenger is asked to show vaccination proof.

At the conclusion of the nearly 2 and a half hour hearing, the Judge said she hopes to have a response "very soon".

Carnival and NCL announce summer cruise ship restart plans from United States

07 Jun 2021

Royal Caribbean is not the only cruise line to announce it will restart cruises from the U.S. this summer.

Both Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Lines announced on Monday plans to restart cruises as early as July.

Royal Caribbean lead the restart plan charge last week, when it announced cruises from the U.S. in July and August, signifying a major milestone in the cruise industry's return to service.

Here is a look at what each of the other major cruise lines announced today.

Carnival will restart in July

Carnival confirmed it will return to service with cruises out of Galveston on two ships.

Carnival Vista will sail on July 3rd from the Port of Galveston, followed by Carnival Breeze on July 15.

These cruises are available for guests who have received their final dose of a CDC-approved Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the cruise and have proof of vaccination, in accordance with current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Carnival also has plans to restart cruises on the Carnival Horizon from PortMiami in July.  No specific date was shared, as the line is working with the State of Florida and the CDC for Carnival Horizon sailings.

Carnival also said plans to provide an update by Friday concerning protocols specific to these sailings to all booked guests.

August sailings will be announced by Carnival "over the coming days."

Norwegian will restart in August

NCL admitted its restart plans in the U.S. are contingent on obtaining a conditional sailing certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said that all its initial voyages will operate with fully vaccinated guests and crew.

First, NCL said it would replace Norwegian Bliss on its Alaska cruises with the Norwegian Encore instead.

In terms of new U.S. sailings, here is what NCL announced:

  • Norwegian Gem will begin sailing 7-night cruises from PortMiami on August 15
  • Norwegian Breakaway will sail to Bermuda from New York on September 26
  • Norwegian Bliss will sail from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on October 2
  • Norwegian Escape will sail from Port Canaveral on November 13

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said the additional planned U.S. voyages build on earlier plans for 23 of the company's 28 ships across its three brands beginning in July and phasing in through early 2022.

Norwegian Cruise Line abandons plans to restart cruises from Dominican Republic this summer

01 Jun 2021

Norwegian Cruise Line announced it will cancel a second cruise ship that was scheduled to sail from outside the United States this summer.

NCL said scheduled cruises from the Dominican Republic on Norwegian Gem are cancelled on sailings between August 15, 2021 through October 10, 2021.

Originally, NCL was going to set sail with three ships outside of the United States:

  • Norwegian Jade from Athens, Greece
  • Norwegian Joy from Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Norwegian Gem from Punta Cana (La Romana), Dominican Republic
  • Norwegian Getaway in Rome
  • Norwegian Epic in Barcelona

Sailings on the Joy were cancelled last week, leaving just the Jade to sail from Greece.

In an email sent to guests booked on the Gem, the cruise line announced the time required to get the ship ready and the desire for Americans to cruise out of local ports drove the change.

"As you may know, we have for many months said that launching and crewing our vessels require approximately 90 days. At this time, we are doing our best to maximize our operational fleet and active crew to deliver on cruise vacations in destinations our guests value the most."

"We are so sorry your cruise has been impacted but we hope to welcome you aboard another sailing."

Joy's sailings were cancelled so that the ship could be redeployed to Alaska instead.

The new cancellations come less than a month after Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) CEO Frank Del Rio told investors customers were buying up the new sailings, "The response to our international voyage resumption has been overwhelming and even sailings from our new Caribbean home ports are performing better than expected despite the extremely condensed booking window."

Royal Caribbean also recently cancelled two scheduled sailings outside of the United States: Vision of the Seas from Bermuda and Odyssey of the Seas from Israel.

Odyssey's season was cancelled due to the cruise line's inability to get its crew members vaccinated, as well as violence in the area.  Vision's cruises appear to be cancelled due to weak demand and the anticipated return of cruises from the U.S.

Both Royal Caribbean and NCL seem to see far more demand for cruises departing from the United States, than positioning ships in new homeports.

Adventure of the Seas is still scheduled to sail from the Bahamas in less than two weeks, and NCL has three ships with cruises out of Europe planned.

Norwegian Cruise Line announces 8 more cruise ships that will sail from the U.S. in 2021

26 May 2021

More Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ships are planned to restart cruises from the U.S. this year.

In addition to the recently announced Alaska restart, NCL posted new plans for eight cruise ships to sail from the United States later this year.

Like Royal Caribbean and Carnival, NCL is starting to get its plans set as it awaits approval for a seemingly inevitable restart process.

Here are the ships and deployment plans announced by NCL:

  • Norwegian Joy will cruise from Miami beginning Oct. 19, 2021 with five to 11-day Caribbean voyages.
  • Norwegian Breakaway will cruise seven-day itineraries to Bermuda from New York beginning Oct. 24, 2021.
  • Pride of America will offer seven-day Hawaii interisland voyages from Honolulu beginning Nov. 6, 2021.
  • Norwegian Bliss will cruise from Los Angeles for seven-day Mexican Riviera voyages beginning Nov. 7, 2021.
  • Norwegian Encore will offer seven-night itineraries from Miami to the Caribbean beginning Nov. 14, 2021.
  • Beginning Nov. 20, 2021, Norwegian Escape will cruise for the first time from Orlando (Port Canaveral), Fla., offering seven-day itineraries to the Caribbean.
  • Norwegian Pearl will sail from Miami offering Panama Canal, Bahamas and Caribbean cruises beginning Dec. 23, 2021.
  • Beginning Jan. 20, 2022, Norwegian Jewel will be the first ship in the fleet to offer roundtrip Panama Canal cruises from Panama City (Colón and Fuerte Amador).

NCL also announced restart plans in Asia and Australia.

  • Norwegian Sun will sail for the first time in Asia beginning Jan. 28, 2022, offering a five-day Japan itinerary from Hong Kong, before sailing a variety of 11-day cruises from Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok.
  • Norwegian Spirit will cruise 12-day Australia and New Zealand voyages from Sydney, and Auckland, New Zealand beginning Feb. 9, 2022.

Earlier this week, the cruise line said its restart plan is contingent on obtaining a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Unlike Royal Caribbean, NCL's restart hinders on requiring every single passenger be fully vaccinated in order to sail, and that means children may not be able to sail initially.

These rules are in place through October 31, 2021. Norwegian will update guidance on requirements for future cruises closer to the fall.

NCL says it expects to be granted approval to sail by the CDC, "in the coming days".

NCL Bliss is currently the first scheduled Norwegian ship to restart operations from the United States, which will commence from Seattle beginning August 7, 2021.

Bliss will sail to Alaska.

More NCL cancellations

With this redeployment, NCL also cancelled a number of cruises.

NCL's summer sailings from Montego Bay, Jamaica on Norwegian Joy are cancelled so the ship can instead sail from Miami on the aforementioned Caribbean cruises. 

Just like Royal Caribbean canceling Vision of the Seas from Bermuda, the move was made to focus on U.S. sailings. Crew members on the Joy will be transferred to Alaska as NCL works to take advantage of what remains of the 2021 Alaska cruise season.

Other sailings have been cancelled to make the new deployment plans work:

  • Pride of America through Oct. 30, 2021
  • Norwegian Escape through Nov. 2, 2021
  • Norwegian Jewel through Jan. 9, 2022
  • Norwegian Pearl through Dec. 7, 2021
  • Norwegian Spirit through Jan. 28, 2022
  • Norwegian Sun through Jan. 18, 2022
  • Norwegian Bliss Oct. 24, 2021 sailing 

Norwegian Cruise Line expects to get approval to sail from the CDC "in the coming days"

24 May 2021

Norwegian Cruise Line announced it will sail to Alaska this summer, and even went as far as saying  it expects to get approval very soon.

Following up on Carnival and Royal Caribbean's similar announcements, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) announced on Monday it would deploy Norwegian Bliss to Seattle and offer cruises to Alaska beginning August 7, 2021.

NCL's restart plan are contingent on obtaining a Conditional Sailing Certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

NCL says it expects to be granted that approval, "in the coming days".

Cruises to Alaska on the Bliss will require all guests and crew required to be fully vaccinated, along with the implementation of the Company’s robust, multi-layered SailSAFE health and safety program.

The cruise line's abilities to sail to Alaska is a result of Congress passing the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, which provides a temporary exemption to the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) restrictions for cruise ships transporting passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska.

NCLH says it expects to phase-in more cruise ships across its three brands.

NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio was excited to share todays news, "We are thrilled to reach the next milestone in our Great Cruise Comeback with the expected resumption of cruising in the U.S. starting in Alaska, one of our guests’ most popular destinations."

"This is a moment we have all been waiting for and it would not have been possible without the strong support of the Alaska congressional delegation who worked tirelessly to pass legislation that temporarily waives certain requirements of the Passenger Vessel Services Act."

NCL's announcement comes just days after Royal Caribbean revealed it has also applied to the CDC for permission to start test cruises.

On Friday, Royal Caribbean submitted a plan to the CDC for approval to begin test cruises.

It is not clear which ship was included in that proposal to the CDC, but Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said it was the "first of several" applications they plan to send to the CDC.

What is NCL's SailSAFE?

Norwegian Cruise Line has internalized the recommendations of the Healthy Sail Panel into what it calls SailSAFE.

These are the multi-layered science-leaning approach to operating cruises safely in the face of Covid-19.

Here are the basics of what it entails:

  • All guests and crew must be fully vaccinated, at least 2 weeks prior to embarkation, in order to board.
  • All guests will be required to take a COVID-19 antigen test, administered and paid for by the cruise line, prior to boarding and receive a negative result.
  • Staggered embarkation process
  • Limited guest capacity on ships
  • Contactless food and beverage service will be provided across all ships with service staff stationed ship-wide, including all restaurants and lounges, and shared use items will be removed where possible.
  • Guests are free to explore ports of call on their own, according to protocols in each specific port, and can purchase shore excursions as they wish.

Masks are not mentioned in their protocols, other than in certain settings during shore excursions where they would be needed in order to comply with local requirements.

Florida Governor dismisses Norwegian Cruise Line threat to pull cruise ships from Florida

13 May 2021

A week after Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) said it might have to pull its ships from Florida if due to the state’s new law against vaccine mandates, Florida's Governor did not seem phased.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in Ormond Beach, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) did not seem concerned with the potential for NCL to move its ships away from the state.

NCL wants to restart cruises with 100% of its passengers and crew members fully vaccinated, but a new state law prohibits any company from asking for proof of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio said last week that its three brands of ships would move their Florida-based vessels to home ports in other states or even to non-U.S. ports in the Caribbean if they were forced to comply with the new rule.

"At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellors and rudders, and God forbid we can operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from."

"We can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would've gone to Florida. We certainly hope that doesn't come to that. Everyone wants to operate out of Florida, it's a very lucrative market, it's close drive market."

When reporters asked Governor DeSantis about Del Rio's comment, DeSantis was not concerned with NCL's actions, and even called NCL "not one of the bigger" cruise lines. NCL is the third-largest cruise line in the world by passengers.

"The major cruise lines, Norwegian's not one of the bigger ones, by the way. Cruise lines have been operating in other parts of the world where there's no access to vaccine, much less the passengers required. And in areas where covid is more prevalent than it is in the United States right now."

"Royal Caribbean, Carnival, they want to go, they're going to be able to do it."

"I can tell you this, if one of the smaller ones says they somehow don't want that niche will get filled in Florida."

Governor DeSantis also talked about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) handling of the cruise industry during the global health crisis, and how he feels the federal agency has overreached with its policies.

Senate Bill (SB) 2006 specifies the new law prohibits "a business entity from requiring patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19."

"We are challenging the CDC's authority to do what they're doing. They mothballed the industry for over a year. That was never the intent of anything Congress has ever enacted. That was them exceeding their authority."

He specifically called out same CDC cruise ship policies that even Norwegian Cruise Line had issues with, "if you're sunbathing, you have to make sure they're wearing a mask while they're sunbathing. Are you kidding me? That is an absolute farce."

Read moreA look at the CDC's "preposterous" requirements for cruise ships test sailings

In terms of the new law that prohibits a company from asking for proof of a vaccine, Governor DeSantis said he wants cruise lines to be able to operate as they see fit up until a point, "What we want is the cruise lines to be open. And we want them to be able to make decisions about how they're going to how they're going to handle a lot of this stuff. That obviously is within the context of a Florida policy that respects the medical privacy of all Floridians."

"I'll hear is most people don't like the idea that if they show up at a ballgame, they got to whip out vaccination records or some things like that. But some say, well, maybe on a cruise, maybe we could do that a little different. Trust me, it will not stop at that. The minute that they start doing this, they're going to continue to do it. It will expand."

Governor DeSantis also touched upon the injunction the state is seeking against the CDC to allow ships to sail immediately, and he seemed optimistic about the legal challenge, "We had a great hearing. I think, by and large, the reports I heard in federal court yesterday."

"We think we got our points across. We think the judge was receptive."

Norwegian Cruise Line warns it could move cruise ships from Florida due to vaccine passport ban

07 May 2021

Will Florida's new law that prevents a company from asking for proof of a Covid-19 vaccine create a problem for cruise lines trying to restart cruises?

While Florida's Governor does not think there is an issue with the new law, at least one cruise line has said it is indeed an issue.

During the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) earnings call with investors, CEO Frank Del Rio described the new law as "an issue".

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed a new law that prohibits businesses from being able to ask for proof of a vaccine from their customers.

Senate Bill (SB) 2006 specifies the new law prohibits "a business entity from requiring patrons or customers to provide documentation certifying vaccination against or recovery from COVID-19."

Mr. Del Rio believes this may come down a legal issue between state and federal jurisdiction, but he also said there is a possibility their cruise ships would have to sail from another state.

"At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellors and rudders, and God forbid we can operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from."

"We can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would've gone to Florida. We certainly hope that doesn't come to that. Everyone wants to operate out of Florida, it's a very lucrative market, it's close drive market."

Mr. Del Rio indicated NCLH is having discussions with the Governor's office, but thinks this is "a classic state versus Federal Government issue".

Governor DeSantis doesn't think cruise ships need to ask passengers for proof of a vaccine, because of how well cruise operations are doing overseas.

On Tuesday, Governor DeSantis dismissed the notion cruise ships need the ability to require a vaccine, "These cruise ships are sailing in other parts of the world where they don't even have vaccines available and they're doing it safely and people are having a good time on it. So so they can do it."

It was not clear if he was talking in general terms, or in reference to the federal guidelines.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented its instructions for cruise lines this week on how to apply for test sailings and restart cruises, which include a few possibilities of requiring a Covid-19 vaccine to sail.

The CDC will allow cruise lines to skip a test sailing if they can ensure 95% of the passengers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Even if cruise ships engage in test sailings, volunteer cruisers onboard these simulated voyages need to be vaccinated as well.

Norwegian Cruise Line has already committed itself to requiring 100% of its passengers and crew members to be vaccinated, and submitted a plan to the CDC about a month ago.

Thus far, NCLH has not heard back from the CDC.

"We want clearance for 100%," said Del Rio after being asked about Florida's law. "And as of today, which is a little over a month since we submitted our proposal to the CDC, we've not yet heard back from them. And that is very disappointing."

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO says July cruises from U.S. "not possible"

06 May 2021

The chances of cruises from the U.S. this July seem unlikely, given recent comments from Norwegian Cruise Line.

Speaking at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. quarterly earnings call, CEO Frank Del Rio told Wall Street analysts a July restart in the United States is "just not possible".

"The July U.S. launch, at least for our company, is just not possible,” Del Rio confessed.

"It was possible back in early April when we proposed to the CDC 100 percent vaccination, so from April 5, 90 days would be early July so that was possible."

"But today we're in early May, and we're looking past that."

While he did not say exactly which dates would be practical, he did indicate they need about 90 days to get a ship ready to restart.

"Our team is working through the new guidance, but at first glance, however, it appears the path forward is a bit rockier and a bit steeper than originally expected."

Royal Caribbean has not commented on the fate of July cruises from the United States.

Mr. Del Rio also said he was disappointed in the new CDC rules for test sailings in the United States “at first read” and found them onerous and in part “preposterous."

"I'm disappointed, at first read. I'm going to give the CDC the opportunity to explain and clarify, and we have a call with them this afternoon."

The new guidelines from the CDC were released on Wednesday and include requirements such as mask wearing, vaccines for volunteers, social distancing, and more.

According to Del Rio, Norwegian plans to start off with a 100% vaccination mandate for cruise ship passengers.

In response to a question about how the CDC has treated the cruise industry, Mr. Del Rio responded, "We're perplexed. We're flabbergasted. We're outraged."

"We're willing to vaccinate every single person onboard a cruise ship. There isn't another venue on earth -- not a school, a factory, your office -- that can make that claim."

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