TAMPA, Fla. — Norwegian set sail Sunday on its first cruise from Florida since the pandemic began with a ship of fully vaccinated guests and crew.
This was made possible by a federal judge's temporary ruling siding with the cruise line in its battle with Florida over requiring proof that passengers are vaccinated against COVID-19.
But the showdown between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s multibillion-dollar cruise ship industry is far from over.
DeSantis, who has outlawed "vaccine passports" in Florida, said the state would appeal the ruling. And Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio had some strong words for the governor.
"I mean, come on, give it up. This is a pandemic we are talking about, people are dying every day, Florida now is the epicenter of the epicenter. What does it take for common sense to rule?" Del Rio told Yahoo! Finance.
He told the outlet that Florida's appeal of the vaccine passport ruling was "beyond bizarre" and "shameful."
Del Rio also questioned the country's leadership at large when it comes to vaccines and controlling the spread of the virus.
"Our leadership has failed us," Del Rio told Yahoo! Finance, questioning how U.S. leaders have not "stood up to the realities of this pandemic, to require vaccinations."
When DeSantis signed the law banning proof of vaccination back in May, he said, "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."
But the Norwegian Cruise CEO argues that "the number one priority of any hospitality business is to keep their customers safe," Yahoo! Finance reports.
For now, Norwegian will be able to continue checking and documenting passengers' vaccination status when setting sail from the Sunshine State. The Orlando Sentinel reports Norwegian plans to bring its Norwegian Escape ship to Port Canaveral on Nov. 13.