(AP) — Norwegian Cruise Line is suing to overturn a new Florida
law that prohibits cruise lines from requiring passengers to show proof of vaccination
against the COVID-19 virus
, filed in federal court in Miami on Tuesday, claims that the law jeopardizes cruise ship
safety by increasing the risk of contracting the virus. Norwegian plans to resume cruises
from Florida ports on Aug. 15, with all passengers required to get vaccinated.
Norwegian is asking a judge
to overturn the ban by August 6. The law imposes a $5,000 fine
a cruise line requires a passenger to show proof of vaccination, which Norwegian claims violates federal law and several constitutional rights.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, or NCLH, says it will be unable to sail from Florida unless a judge intervenes to block the law.
“The result would be a devastating, irrecoverable loss for everyone — not only for NCLH’s business
, but also for tens of thousands of passengers, employees, and stakeholders who all benefit from NCLH resuming safe operations as planned,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit goes on to say that “the only way NCLH could maintain its protocols and operations as currently planned is to abandon Florida entirely.”
The lawsuit names as a defendant Florida's surgeon general, Dr. Scott Rivkees, who is also the head of the state Health
Department. Rivkees is a Republican
appointee of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis
, whose spokeswoman claims the cruise line's policy discriminates against children
under the age of 12 and others who are not vaccinated.
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis' press secretary, wrote in an email that Florida recently won a lawsuit challenging several cruise industry regulations imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
“Florida has already fought and won its case so that Norwegian and all other cruise lines can invite and serve all Americans on their vessels,” Pushaw said, “but apparently Norwegian prefers the CDC
shackles to the freedom offered by Florida.”
The CDC has filed an appeal against a previous decision by a federal judge in Tampa.
Other cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean
, have already begun voyages from Florida with varying COVID-19 vaccination policies.