PORT EVERGLADES, FLA. (WSVN) - After Celebrity Edge was announced as the first major cruise ship to sail from the United States in over a year, the cruise line may encounter hefty fines due to a bill signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
What should be great news for Celebrity Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Group, may soon become a problem when sailing out of Florida.
The cruise line was cleared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to sail out of Port Everglades with paying passengers on June 26, the first ship to do so since the pandemic began.
“We’re excited, and in many respects, the speculation is over,” said Port Everglades CEO and and Director Jonathan Daniels. “We’ve been working on this for more than a year.”
The green light was given with stringent rules including a fully vaccinated crew, passengers 16 and older showing proof of vaccination and starting Aug. 1, passengers 12 and older showing proof of vaccination.
These requirements would be defying a new law signed by DeSantis earlier this month.
“You have a right to participate in society, go to a restaurant, a movie, a ball game, all these things without having to divulge this type of information,” said DeSantis back on May 3.
The law bans companies in Florida from requiring vaccinations.
The governor filed a lawsuit asking a judge to force the CDC to drop the cruise rules.
“From the get-go, we have challenged the CDC in what we believe is an excess in their authority,” said Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. “They have no congressional authority to shut down an industry, an industry so important to Florida.”
The Office of Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday released the following statement to 7News:
“Companies doing business in Florida, including Celebrity Cruises, should immediately cease to impose such discriminatory policies upon individuals. Companies that violate this law would be subject to a fine of $5,000 each time they require a customer to present a ‘vaccine passport’ for service.”
“I will tell you that that’s something that’s going to have to be worked out between the lines and the governor’s office,” said Daniels. “There’s great dialogue.”
The move by the governor, however, isn’t sitting well with the cruise industry.
The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line responded to the new law saying he would consider moving the company’s ships out of Florida.
The mayors of Broward and Miami-Dade are hoping the governor changes course.
“If they can’t sail out of Florida, they will find someplace to sail out of,” said Broward County Mayor Steve Geller.
“These are offshore companies. They’re going to foreign countries. This has been proven effective in other parts of the world,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, ” and I’m just hoping that there’s a path forward. I believe there is a path forward.”
Court ordered mediation for the lawsuit began on Thursday. It could potentially determine how this sailing situation plays out.
Royal Caribbean Group, Celebrity Cruises’ parent company, did not immediately respond to 7News’ calls for comment.
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