Florida Threatens to Sue CDC to Restart Cruising From U.S.

The State of Florida could sue the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) if it does not allow for cruising from the state to restart by summer, West Palm Beach‘s WPTV has reported.

Last week, the CDC reiterated that its “Framework for Conditional Sailing” Order would stay in place through November 1, 2021—one year from the October 31, 2020 deadline of the previous “No Sail” Order, and its original expiration date. In a statement last week, the CDC said, “Returning to passenger cruising is a phased approach to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19. Details for the next phase of the CSO are currently under interagency review.”

Earlier in the week, travel trade groups, including the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) called on the CDC to lift the restrictions on cruising and set a July 1 date for operations to resume from U.S. ports.

According to ASTA, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale were the two busiest cruise ports in the world. These ports have also undergone massive renovations and expansion in recent years, supporting the growth of hundreds of thousands of jobs in South Florida and across the nation. In 2019, travel agencies processed $12.3 billion in cruise sales and directly support 86,360 cruise line jobs in the U.S.

As a result of the Conditional Sailing Order, cruise lines, including Crystal, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and others, are moving their homeports to the Caribbean, bypassing U.S. ports entirely as a means to restart operations. Other lines are operation U.K. or European-only sailings.  

“We need to be able to get these cruise lines operating again,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a roundtable discussion at Port Canaveral, appearing alongside Florida attorney general Ashley Moody and leaders of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney and Norwegian Cruise Line. “In Florida, we have everything going on except the cruise lines because the federal government won’t let the cruise lines sail.”

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