As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention readies to allow cruise ships set sail again in U.S. waters, one cruise line is taking a hard stance against Florida for what it claims are risky COVID rules.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) CEO Frank Del Rio warned that the cruise line would pull out of Florida ports if the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, continues to insist on rolling back COVID requirements on proof of vaccination and testing, WFOR, a CBS affiliate out of Miami, reported.

Del Rio said during the company’s earnings call, according to WFOR, that Norwegian would have no choice but to take its ships out of Florida if DeSantis blocked customers from proving they’ve been vaccinated or tested negative from COVID.

DeSantis signed an executive order in April that banned COVID passports in Florida, which was signed into law on Monday.

"In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision," DeSantis said in a statement, at the time.

Norwegian Cruise Line has made it a requirement that all passengers and crew provide proof of being fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to boarding its ships.

The CDC is also requiring that 98% of crew members and 95% of passengers be vaccinated against the virus for sailing. DeSantis said he hopes the agency will allow his orders to override their decision, CNN reported.

Del Rio continued during the call by saying, “At the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and God forbid we can operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from. And we can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would’ve gone to Florida. We certainly hope that doesn’t come to that. Everyone wants to operate out of Florida, it’s a very lucrative market, it’s close drive market.”

While the CDC has previously said it is eyeing a summer timeline for cruise ships to return to service in the U.S., no hard date has been set.

Del Rio said during the earnings call, as reported by WFOR, that he doesn’t think Norwegian ships will be able to sail in U.S. water this summer because of poor guidance from the CDC.

“If the CDC wants to go in a different direction, the rest of the industry wants to go – great, we want to go 100%. We want clearance for 100%. And as of today, which is a little over a month since we submitted our proposal to the CDC, we’ve not yet heard back from them. And that is very disappointing,” he added.

The CDC is moving through a phased approached to a return to operation for cruise lines, with a number of implemented protocols to follow. The CDC will begin its return to sailing by having the cruise lines perform simulated voyages, which are slated to begin this summer.

If De Santis does move forward with blocking the need to provide proof of vaccination or COVID testing in Florida, thousands of jobs could be impacted, especially in South Florida, should Norwegian pull out of state ports, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Thursday, WFOR reported.

 

 

Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line were trading at $28.12 as of premarket hours on Friday, up 31 cents, or 1.11%.

Norwegian Cruise Line ship Dawn The Norwegian Cruise Line ship 'Norwegian Dawn' departs the Royal Naval Dockyard near the port of Hamilton, Bermuda, in this file photo taken on July 16, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Gary Cameron