Cruise giant Norwegian threatens to skip Florida's ports
Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is threatening to keep its ships out of Florida after the governor signed legislation banning businesses from requiring that customers show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The company says the law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis is at odds with guidelines from federal health authorities that would let cruise ships sail in U.S. waters if nearly all passengers and crew members are vaccinated.
“It is a classic state-versus-federal-government issue,” said Norwegian's CEO, Frank Del Rio. “Lawyers believe that federal law applies and not state law, but I’m not a lawyer. And we hope that this doesn’t become a legal football or a political football.”
The company owns Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Del Rio told analysts during the company's quarterly earnings call Thursday that if the company can’t operate in Florida, it can go to other states or the Caribbean “for ships that otherwise would have gone to Florida ... we certainly hope it doesn't come to that.”
Del Rio said the company is still discussing the matter with DeSantis’ office.
Last month, DeSantis signed an order banning businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination and prohibiting state agencies from issuing so-called vaccine passports that document COVID-19 vaccinations and test results. This week, he signed legislation that includes the provision about businesses and gives him power to overrule local measures related to the pandemic, such as mask mandates.
DeSantis said the order and the legislation were matters of preserving individual freedom and privacy. On Friday, the governor's office did not immediately respond to the Norwegian Cruise Line CEO's comments.
Norwegian aims to have all passengers and crew...