We are all looking forward to getting back to our normal lives and being able to vacation safely again. The cruising industry is the fastest growing market in the leisure travel market. In 2018, the Port of Miami alone had a total of 5,592,000 cruise passengers. If you are planning on cruising out of Florida in the near future, you may have questions about the new policies.
The CDC has recommended that ships have 95% of crew and 95% of passengers fully vaccinated. To be considered fully vaccinated, you must have received your final vaccine dose at least 14 days before sailing. However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that goes into effect on July 1, 2021, which prohibits businesses across the state from asking anyone to show proof that they have been vaccinated for Covid-19. This law includes cruise lines, which could be fined $5,000.00 each time they require proof of vaccination from a passenger.
As of now, the majority of the major cruise lines are, or will be, requiring passengers eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine to provide proof of vaccination. However, due to Florida law, for cruises wishing to embark from florida, they must adhere to Florida law, which restricts businesses from asking proof of vaccination. So, cruise lines wont be able to mandate vaccinations if they can not ask the passenger if they are vaccinated.
So cruise lines have adapted in order to stay compliant with Florida law. To stay compliant, cruise lines departing from Florida will not ask a passenger for proof of vaccination. Instead, cruise lines will place certain restrictions and additional costs on passengers on their ship. Some of these additional protocols may include:
- Arriving for embarkation with a negative PCR test taken within the 72-hour period ahead of arrival at the terminal;
- Antigen test at the pier (at the passenger expense);
- Mid-cruise antigen test (at the passenger expense);
- Antigen test at the end of the cruise (at the passenger expense);
- Requiring masks to be worn at all times, except when eating, drinking, or in your cabin;
- Depending on local requirements, restricting unvaccinated passengers from disembarking at port of calls; and
- Restricting unvaccinated passengers to certain seating areas on board in venues such as dining rooms.
However, if a passenger elects to show proof of vaccination, most, if not all these protocols will be waived for said passenger.
It is important to check the protocols and restrictions for the specific cruise line that you plan on sailing with. Each cruise line will have their own policies in place, and each state has their own set of laws, which seem to be changing by the day.
Should anyone have any questions regarding the ever-changing laws and regulations, or have any other legal issues they wish to discuss, do not hesitate to contact Itzkowitz Law at 813-461-6600. Itzkowitz Law specializes in hospitality law, including law related to travel. We will be happy to assist you.