The cruise industry and its supporters aren’t letting up the pressure on the CDC to allow a cruise restart in the US, with Florida now suing the federal government.
The lawsuit against the Biden Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was brought by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis is seeking to force the CDC and other agencies to allow a cruise restart in the US. He wants the agency to provide a timeline for cruises to resume from US ports. This of particular significance for Florida, which is home to many of the busiest cruise ports in the country.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday morning against the Administration, the CDC and HHS.
According to DeSantis, the federal government and the CDC’s shutdown of the cruise industry is no longer defensible.
He said at a press conference that he did not believe the federal goverment had the right to shut down the industry for over a year based on “very little evidence and very little data,” and said he thought he had a good chance for success of getting permission for a cruise restart in the US.
“This is not rational and guess what? They say cruising isn’t safe with widespread vaccinate availability and all the testing you want … it’s a much different situation than a year ago,” he said.
“People are still going to go on cruises,” DeSantis added, pointing out that cruise passengers will just fly to the Bahamas and spend money outside the United States.
“How does that make any sense? It doesn’t,” he said. “We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately.”
DeSantis was referring to the recent move by many major cruise lines to homeport in the Caribbean instead of the United States.
The US allows travelers to visit countries in the Caribbean, so cruise lines are now planning to sell fly-cruise packages to passengers and sail Caribbean itineraries as they usually would, but with Caribbean homeports rather than American ones.
The cruise industry directly contributes US $8-billion to the Florida economy (pre-pandemic), and supports more than 150,000 jobs, making it a significant part of the wider tourism industry, which is overall the largest employer in the state.
The CLIA and Royal Caribbean have called the CDC’s current Conditional Sailing Order unworkable, while Carnival Corporation’s CEO Arnold Donald has said that the agency’s divergent guidance regarding cruises versus other forms of transport in disappointing.