Saying it was the company’s “last resort,” Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) has filed a lawsuit against Florida after the state banned vaccine passports. The company said it can’t promote its cruises as safe if it can’t make sure its crew and passengers are vaccinated against COVID-19 in “a way that [NCLH] has determined will be best for all concerned.”
Florida's law puts cruise lines in a no-win position, threatening to fine them $5,000 each time they ask a passenger for proof of vaccination. Gov. Ron DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw told ConsumerAffairs that NCLH made a “disappointing and unlawful choice to join the CDC in discriminating against children and other individuals who cannot be vaccinated or who have opted not to be vaccinated for reasons of health, religion, or conscience"
"At present, approximately 60% of eligible Floridians have been vaccinated against COVID-19, which means Norwegian is purposefully excluding 40% of Florida’s residents from the people it is willing to serve.”
Enough is enough
In what has all the signs of a showdown, Norwegian feels that it and other companies in the travel industry have suffered long enough at the hands of the pandemic.
“Since March 2020, concerns about COVID-19 have led to a debilitating, total shutdown for the cruise industry generally and for NCLH specifically,” the company said in the lawsuit. “That shutdown has inflicted incalculable, irrecoverable losses not only upon NCLH but upon all those whose interests ride with it—including NCLH’s many crew and passengers as well as a surrounding ecosystem (contractors, vendors, manufacturers, wholesalers, hotels, restaurants, airlines, travel agents, etc.”
If push comes to shove, Norwegian just may pull up every anchor it has in Florida and move somewhere else if it’s not allowed to mandate vaccines.
"At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can't operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from, and we can operate from the Caribbean for a ship that otherwise would have gone to Florida," CEO Frank Del Rio said during an earnings call in May.
Freedom of choice?
On the other side of the stand-off, Pushaw said that Florida has already fought and won its case so that Norwegian and every other cruise line can invite and serve all Americans on its ships. “But apparently Norwegian prefers the shackles of the CDC to the freedom offered by Florida,” she said.
One ConsumerAffairs reviewer is already standing with Florida on this issue. “Shame on NCL for requiring a covid shot that is not scientifically proven and the FDA didn't even approve it,” wrote Ellen from New York. “Nothing but bullying. We are free Americans and should have the right to choose the shot.”