FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – With access to COVID-19 vaccines, cruise industry executives in Florida are ready to sail again. But with Gov. Ron DeSantis preventing them from requiring vaccines, they are considering moving out of Florida.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Wednesday to allow simulated voyages with volunteers as part of an application for a conditional sailing certificate.
Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert, estimates the industry in Florida is valued at $9 billion since the state has the three largest cruise ports in the world in Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades.
“It would be significant. Jobs would be lost, port cities would lose a tremendous amount of revenue. There’s a tremendous amount of infrastructure,” Chiron said.
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.
“I know the governor feels very strongly about the cruise industry,” Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said. “That’s why he threatened to sue the federal government if they didn’t re-open the cruise industry.”
Geller said DeSantis has to “relax his order on the no proof of vaccine” because he can’t get in the way of a federal order that is meant to keep people safe during the pandemic.
“I urge the governor to stand more for the business community instead of his political issue,” Geller said, adding that DeSantis restriction “goes against what he says he stands for, which is letting the business community make decisions affecting the business community.”