Folks who take cruises, really love to take cruises. The Centers for Disease Control released some good news for fans of the big boat life this week: if you’re fully vaccinated, you are now cleared to head back to the buffet and catch a stomach bug instead. But departing from Florida may be a challenge.
First, the good news, at least for cruisers who were already demanding to get back at it this past August: New CDC guidelines sort of allow vaccinated cruisers get back to normal. From Cruise Industry News:
The new update issued on Wednesday said that cruise lines may designate areas as only accessible to fully vaccinated passengers and crew where masks and physical distancing are not required.
The CDC also updated wording, noting that for fully vaccinated passengers, a number of items are now just recommendations, including social distancing in the restaurants and bars, limited seating capacity and even self-service food and drinks, leading the way for the return of traditionally cruise ship buffets.
In addition, for ships with at least 95% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated, cruise ship operators, at their discretion, may advise passengers and crew that they do not have to wear a mask or maintain physical distance in any areas.
Ooh! Fancy areas of the cruise ship just for the VIPs (very inoculated persons). I bet that’s where all the action will be. Behind that velvet rope, people will be standing closer than 6-feet to each other, getting wild. And I thought all this little shot did was keep me from transmitting the deadly virus and boost my 5G cell reception. The benefits just keep on coming.
The new rules now change many of the formerly stringent requirements to mere suggestions which owners of ships with mostly vaccinated crews and passengers can enforce at the crews’ discretion. Which means probably no more mask-lines on your face ruining your perfect tan. It also makes the work that the crew does a lot easier, allowing tables to be closer together and for the buffets and self-service food to open back up. Luckily there is also a recommendation ships install enhanced sneeze guards as well.
But how will they know you are vaccinated? Good question. Florida has a new state law that outright bans the use of vaccine passports, according to USA Today:
The question remains whether ships will be able to sail from Florida with the state’s “vaccine passport” ban in place – or what the ramifications will be should they inquire about passengers’ vaccination status, which is required by the CDC but banned by the state.
“Requiring customers to show proof of immunization violates the spirit of the governor’s Emergency Order 21-81, which prohibits vaccine passports and protects the fundamental rights of Floridians – including the right to medical privacy,” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ press secretary, told USA TODAY Thursday.
It may not surprise you that cruises are big business in Florida. Cruises are responsible for $9 billion is revenue and the state has the three largest cruise ship ports in the world in Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades, experts told Local10 news. Since Florida law is at odds with the CDC’s recommendations, some cruises are pulling out of Florida altogether. From Local10:
“We’ve already announced that the first seven ships we’re standing up this summer are all outside of the US.,” Frank Del Rio, the chief executive officer of the Norwegian Cruise Line, told Fox News.
Cruise lines have begun to announce that they’re going to be sailing from foreign ports, Chiron said. Officials in both Broward and Miami-Dade counties are calling for DeSantis to prevent this.
“Preventing private cruise companies from setting policies to keep customers and workers safe puts Floridians’ lives needlessly at risk, and is contrary to the free enterprise that makes this country great,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a statement released on Thursday.
Who will blink first, the cruise lines or the governor of Florida? Like most things post-COVID lockdowns, there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer.