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Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO has issued a stern warning to Florida state lawmakers, saying the company could move all its ships out of the state if a bill that forces crew members to get the flu vaccine becomes law. The bill, filed by Florida state Rep. Matt Gaetz, would require workers to get a flu shot or wear a surgical mask while on duty.
The CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line has warned that the company may move its ships out of Florida if the state doesn’t repeal its new law that requires all children to be vaccinated before starting school or day care. Part of the law was suspended on Friday, but it still requires all children to be vaccinated before enrolling in public or private school.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. president and CEO Frank Del Rio has hinted that the company may move three of its brands, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, to other markets outside Florida because of Governor Ron DeSantis’ controversial call for new state legislation to ban the COVID-19 vaccine.
The law, which was passed to take effect on July 1, prohibits companies from requiring vaccinations, but it’s unclear whether it will apply to cruise lines leaving Florida for international waters.
We hope this doesn’t become a legal or political pawn, Del Rio said Thursday during the company’s earnings call for the first quarter of 2021, revealing that orders for the first half of 2022 have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, even as revenue for the first three months of 2021 fell more than 99 percent to $3.1 million. But at the end of the day, cruise ships have engines, propellers and rudders, and if, God forbid, for some reason we can’t operate in Florida, there are other states where we do operate. Or] we can operate from the Caribbean_COPY We sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that.
The airline had earlier announced that all passengers and crew members must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 during flights until at least 31. October 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that cruise lines planning to resume operations from U.S. ports follow the rule that at least 98 percent of the crew and 95 percent of the passengers must be vaccinated.
Maybe in six months or a year it will be different. But today, while the pandemic is still among us and the worst is over, I think everyone wants to embark on a cruise in the safest way possible, and that’s what Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ plan does, he added. Everyone wants to work in Florida. It’s a very lucrative market. This is the near foreign market. But Florida law is a problem. You can’t ignore it. We hope everyone is heading in the same direction, to get back to sailing safely.
Del Rio also provided an update on operations during Thursday’s conference call and confirmed that the company continues to work with the CDC to safely resume shipments from U.S. ports.
In early May, the cruise line plans to launch on July 25, 2021, and operate routes to the Greek islands from Athens. Norwegian’s Caribbean flights begin on the 7th. August has started again. Oceania Cruises begins cruises again on August 29 and Regent Seven Seas Cruises begins on August 11. September with departure from Britain.
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