Mediator Declares Impasse in Florida Cruise Lawsuit Against CDC

The federal government shut down all cruises in March of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Florida governor's lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over restrictions on cruise ships is at a standstill, with the two sides failing to come to an agreement in mediation.

In a statement Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis' office said a mediator appointed by the U.S. District Court to resolve the lawsuit declared an impasse.

The federal government shut down all cruises in March of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida filed the suit against the CDC over its no-sail order earlier this year.

NBC 6's Steve Litz is in PortMiami with how the legal battleground could shake out between the state government and cruise lines.

The CDC is set to let cruises sail again if 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers are vaccinated and ships take other measures to limit the risk of transmitting the virus.

DeSantis, however, signed a bill banning business from requiring proof of vaccination.

"Unfortunately, the CDC has opted to continue its ridiculous and unlawful regulations that target a single industry by imposing vaccine requirements — something no other business or industry must do," Thursday's statement from DeSantis' office read.

DeSantis also addressed the issue during a news conference in South Florida Thursday.

"This whole vaccination issue it is somewhat of a red herring because in their research, over 90% of the people who want to cruise have already been vaccinated at this point, so that is going to end up taking care of itself, you don’t need to discriminate against people," he said.

Mock cruises from several cruise lines will be allowed to set sail with volunteer passengers as early as next month. NBC 6's Steve Litz reports

The statement from DeSantis' office said the CDC did "almost nothing" to resume cruises until Florida filed the suit and called the CDC's safety guidelines a "constantly changing labryinth of requirements."

Under the CDC guidelines, cruise lines have to run simulated sailings to test whether ships can sail safely and follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"While it is a positive sign to see the CDC begin to green light 'conditional cruises' following Florida’s lawsuit, there is still no set date upon which cruises can resume business operations," the statement from DeSantis' office read. "The CDC has no excuse for ruining two summers of sailing and it is well past time to end the CDC's desperate attempt to prolong its power trip over America."

Florida is the nation’s cruise capital with three of the world’s busiest ports: Miami, Port Canaveral near Kennedy Space Center, and Port Everglades near Fort Lauderdale. The cruise industry generates billions for the economy and employs tens of thousands of Floridians.

Earlier Thursday, three mayors in Broward wrote a letter to DeSantis asking him to allow cruise companies to impose the vaccine requirements.

"We know that you are a strong conservative that normally wants to let businesses operate without over-burdensome government regulations. The private sector cruise industry wants to be able to assure their passengers that the crew and their fellow passengers are vaccinated. The industry believes that without this requirement, passengers will not cruise," the letter read.

Contact Us