Maiden voyage of the Symphony of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship delivered by STX shipyards in Saint-Nazaire to the American ship-owner Royal Caribbean cruise Ltd (RCCL).
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state will file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding cruise ships be allowed to resume sailing immediately.
“On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihoods depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida’s fighting back,” he announced in a press conference on Thursday. “We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year, based on very little evidence and very little data.”
DeSantis called the CDC’s decision to delay the opening of the U.S. cruise industry “irrational” and said he believes that this lawsuit will have a “good chance for success.”
The CDC was not immediately available for comment.
The governor signed an executive order on Friday forbidding so-called vaccine passports, which will also apply to the cruise industry, saying that private and public businesses are not required to show proof of vaccination.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the cruise industry during a press conference at PortMiami on April 08, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
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Cruise lines extend trip suspensions
Royal Caribbean announced Thursday that it will be extending the suspension of some of its trips leaving from U.S. ports.
Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises trips will be suspended until June 30, according to a press release. However, trips leaving from new home ports in other areas of the world are still operating on schedule.
The Silversea extensions exclude Silver Moon, Silver Origin and Silver Explorer.
“Safety is the first priority, and we know that cruising can be safe, as we have seen in Europe and Asia,” said Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO, in a press release. He remains optimistic about the second half of this year, citing President Joe Biden’s promise for society to return to normal by July 4.
Disney Cruise Line also announced on Monday that it will be further suspending its U.S. trips through June. This will affect its Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder sailings.
Industry asks to be treated like airlines
Royal Caribbean has carried over 100,000 guests on its ships outside the U.S. since the pandemic and has only seen 10 Covid cases, Fain said on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday. He said he “would like to be treated in a very similar way to the airlines and other forms of transportation.”
Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Cruise Line, expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday. He said cruise lines would “like to be treated the same as other sectors and travel and tourism and entertainment.”
While airlines are able to fly across the world during the pandemic, the cruise industry, which had over 100,000 American jobs pre-Covid, has faced about a year without any trips from its U.S. ports.
“The irony is that today an American can fly to any number of destinations to take a cruise, but cannot board a ship in the U.S.,” the Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement on Monday, calling for the CDC to lift its Framework for Conditional Sailing Order, which describes a “framed approach” for U.S. cruise operations to return with no strict date in sight.
Last week, the CDC released technical instructions for cruise ships including increasing the frequency of Covid case reporting from weekly to daily, establishing a plan for all staff members to be vaccinated and implementing routine testing. However, this update did not specify a date for cruise lines to return to operation in the U.S.
“Nobody can guarantee anybody is safe from Covid anywhere in America or anywhere else,” Fain told CBS. “Actually, the irony is if you go on a ship, you’re going to reduce your risk of coming down with the virus.”