Although Royal Caribbean Group received approval to resume U.S. sailings after more than a year of suspended operations, hitting the seas might be more challenging than expected.
Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Edge cruise ship, owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, plans to depart Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – the first ship to set sail from a U.S. port since the early days of the pandemic. It was given the green light to do so by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to Royal Caribbean, the ship's entire crew will be vaccinated, and anyone over the age of 16 must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19. By August, anyone over the age of 11 must present proof that they have been fully vaccinated.
The issue, however, is that the policy conflicts with Florida law that bans businesses from requiring people to show proof they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to get service.
In the executive order, signed in April, Gov. Ron DeSantis argued that "vaccination passports reduce individual freedom and will harm patient privacy" and that they would "create two classes of citizens based on vaccination."
He added that the law is "necessary to protect the fundamental rights and privacies of Floridians and the free flow of commerce within the state."
The executive order also bars any government entity from issuing such documentation for the purpose of providing proof of vaccinations.
"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 earlier this month after signing Senate Bill 2006.
|RCL||ROYAL CARIBBEAN GROUP||85.64||-0.77||-0.89%|
In the meantime, Royal Caribbean told FOX Business it's still finalizing health and safety measures for cruises departing from U.S. ports, including Florida, in collaboration with the CDC as well as local and state authorities in the destinations its ships visit.
"We are encouraged by the ongoing dialogue and the health and safety of crew, guests and communities we visit, remain our highest priority," a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said.
Representatives for DeSantis did not respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
Under CDC guidelines, at least 95% of crew and 95% of passengers need to be fully vaccinated, but the agency acknowledges "that it is not possible for cruising to be a zero-risk activity for spread of COVID-19."
"Cruising will always pose some risk of COVID-19 transmission" but the "CDC is committed to ensuring that cruise ship passenger operations are conducted in a way that protects crew members, passengers, and port personnel, particularly with emerging COVID-19 variants of concern," the agency previously said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.