NCLH-Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sues Florida over vaccine passport ban

   July 14, 2021 ,   Cruise Industry

The world's 4th-largest cruise shipowner NCLH-Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is suing Florida's Surgeon General over the state's law prohibiting companies from requiring employees and clients to provide documentation of COVID vaccination status.

According to the complaint filed on Tuesday, July 13, NCLH said the lawsuit was a "last resort" because Florida had indicated it would prevent the company from "safely and soundly resuming passenger cruise operations" in August. The state law was described as an "anomalous, misguided intrusion."

The NCLH complaint named Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees as "the responsible state official." In April 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order which banned the use of COVID passports in the state. The order prohibits any government entity from issuing COVID vaccine passports and blocks businesses from requiring such documentation.

The cruise company, however, wants documentation that all passengers and crew have been fully vaccinated.

The complaint says:

"The upshot places NCLH in an impossible dilemma as it prepares to set sail from Florida: NCLH will find itself either on the wrong side of health and safety and the operative federal legal framework, or else on the wrong side of Florida law." 

According to the complaint, NCLH is scheduled to resume sailings from Florida on August 15 "in a way that will be safe, sound, and consistent with governing law," citing regulations set by the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

"The risk of transmission of COVID-19 among the unvaccinated in the close quarters of cruise ships coupled with the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing the spread of COVID19 and in reducing the deaths caused by COVID-19 makes transmission of information about COVID-19 vaccines a matter of life and death." 

Norwegian is asking the court to suspend Florida's prohibition.

In May, NCLH's CEO Frank Del Rio said that Florida's law could cause the company to move its boats elsewhere.