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Thursday, July 22, 2021

Canada plots return for cruises as Florida remains tangled in anti-science posturing

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2021 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge Norwegian Cruise Line have filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida for banning private businesses from asking for vaccination status. - ADOBE
  • Adobe
  • Norwegian Cruise Line have filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida for banning private businesses from asking for vaccination status.

After more than a year since Canada all but closed itself off from the outside world, the nation is finally moving to reopen. That is good news for tourism, especially cruise lines, which rely heavily on Canada for some of their busiest non-Caribbean itineraries.

The land border between the U.S. and Canada will open on August 9 but the cruise ship ban that will run until November. That effectively kills the busy season for Canadian cruises. Still, the plan put forth by our neighbors to the North is quite a bit less murky than the cruise situation in the United States.



Just weeks ago, Congress moved to enact temporary rules that left the more than century-old Passenger Act unenforced this year to help Alaska’s cruise tourism, which was facing its second straight year of barely any business. The move also comes as Florida continues its legal fight with the CDC and cruise lines over pandemic precautions, which the state views as an overreach. Those precautions, including requiring vaccines, must be met for a cruise ship to enter Canadian waters.

That helps add fuel to Norwegian’s case against the state of Florida. The cruise line filed a lawsuit against the state’s new vaccine passport ban last week, claiming “the only way NCLH could maintain its protocols and operations as currently planned is by abandoning Florida altogether.” Other cruise lines have attempted to circumvent the law by charging unvaccinated guests extra fees and limiting their onboard access.

So far, these tactics haven't seemed to encourage vaccination rates in Florida, where less than half of the population is fully vaccinated.

Instead of monitoring guests on-board, Norwegian has decided to stand up against DeSantis’ laws. Even as the state sees a new wave of infections, state officials have positioned vaccines and health passport requirements as an attack on personal freedoms. DeSantis’ campaign went so far as selling merchandise that mocks mask-wearing.

DeSantis has offered red meat to the anti-science wing of the Republican party, despite getting vaccinated himself in early April. The governor’s anti-vaccine measures have meant many of the state’s tourism leaders have faced an impossible decision: please politicians or protect their guests and employees. In Orange County, even as the local officials recommend mask-wearing, none of the county’s theme parks require them.


Some tourists are instead opting to visit places perceived to be safer, like California, which require masks and vaccine passports in many areas. Last week an L.A. County health officer went so far as to encourage tourists to reconsider visiting COVID hotspots like Florida.

In a statement regarding Norwegian’s new lawsuit, DeSantis press secretary Christian Pushaw referenced the state’s ongoing fight with the CDC stating, “Apparently Norwegian prefers the shackles of the CDC to the freedom offered by Florida.”


As of Monday, Florida has seen a 190% increase in new COVID cases over the past two weeks. 



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