As Florida continues in litigation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the CDC’s disproportionately harsh restrictions on Florida’s cruise industry, senior DeSantis administration officials familiar with the negotiations have one explanation for why cruise lines aren’t jumping into the legal battle: They’re terrified.
The CDC has mandated cruise lines either require 95 percent of passengers to be vaccinated, or spend millions of dollars on simulated sails with costly and cumbersome safety measures. Florida enacted a law scheduled to take effect July 1 that would fine businesses $5,000 per customer for requiring proof of vaccines. Tuesday marked the end of the lawsuit’s mediation period, with a ruling expected to follow soon.
But the cruise industry hasn’t joined the state of Florida in suing to challenge the restrictions, and officials familiar with the negotiations say it’s because the industry has already been crippled by no-sail orders over the past year and is terrified of further crossing federal regulators.
These regulations have unfairly targeted the cruise industry, which brought almost $8 billion into Florida’s economy in 2016. Cruise ships in the United States have been forced to sit idle since the CDC issued a no-sail order on March 14, 2020, costing the industry over 14 months of business and costing Florida’s economy billions. As theme parks, concert venues, restaurants, and other industries have been allowed to open with no such vaccine mandate from the CDC, the state of Florida wants the same standards applied to cruises.