Norwegian Cruise Line is reportedly suing Florida for banning Covid certificates, or “vaccine passports”, in what it has called “an impossible dilemma” if cruises are to return.
The company, in a complaint filed in the US district court of Miami, is asking for Florida’s ban on Covid certifications to be invalidated before vessels start sailing next month, according to The Washington Post.
Cruise firms sailing from Florida cannot ask customers for proof of Covid vaccination prior to boarding, after a law championed by Governor Ron DeSantis was introduced in the spring.
Lawyers for Norwegian wrote in the complaint that it faced “an impossible dilemma as it prepares to set sail from Florida”, and was caught between Florida and federal laws on Covid.
“Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) will find itself either on the wrong side of health and safety and the operative federal legal framework, or else on the wrong side of Florida law,” the company wrote.
It added that “It gives us no pleasure to be pursuing this lawsuit, which was our last resort.”
“If Florida’s ban stands, then the only way NCLH can require vaccine documentation and maximize safety, comfort, and confidence would be by forgoing operations in Florida. That would be a tragedy for all concerned.”
A spokesperson for DeSantis, Christina Pushaw, told The Post that Norwegian was “discriminating” against customers without Covid vaccinations, including children, whom it will not allow onboard when it restarts.
Ms. Pushaw claimed that Norwegian “prefers the shackles” of the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rather than Florida’s “freedoms”, with CDC advice a recommendation rather than a law.
In June, a court ruled in favor of Florida’s ban on Covid certificates after Mr. DeSantis challenged the CDC’s order for cruises to sail with 95% of those onboard vaccinated. It is now non-binding.
The Florida law, meanwhile, could see cruise lines fined $5,000 per customer banned from boarding.