'We don't believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year, based on very little evidence and very little data, and I think we have a good chance for success,' DeSantis said.
Fight on behalf of tens of thousands of Floridians
The governor announced his 'fight' on behalf of tens of thousands of Floridians impacted by the shutdown during a PortMiami news conference Thursday.
'There's no end in sight,' DeSantis said, adding that CDC could continue to make cumbersome restrictions that would be hard for lines to follow.
People will cruise offshore
'People are going to cruise one way or another. The question is, are they going to do it out of Florida, which is the No. 1 place to do it in the world, or are they going to be doing it out of the Bahamas or other locations?'
According to DeSantis, Florida has a low 4.7% unemployment rate, under the 6.3% national average. However, Miami Dade County's joblessness is way higher than the national average,
'The main reason for that is the federal government and the CDC have locked down this industry for over a year,' he said. 'This is not reasonable. This is not rational.'
DeSantis cited widespread vaccine and testing availability, and other measures the cruise lines have taken.
'It's a much different situation than a year ago,' he said.
Cruise line reactions
'We are aware of the lawsuit and share the sense of urgency of getting Americans back to work,' a Carnival Corp. spokesman said. 'Our focus is trying to work with the CDC on a plan to resume cruise operations this summer.'
Royal Caribbean Group would not address the Florida suit specifically but said: 'We are aware that there are many efforts under way at the state, federal and grassroots levels that can support us as we return to healthy and safe sailing from the United States. Vaccinations layered on top of the rigorous health and safety measures we are implementing enable us to create a safe environment for cruising. We strongly believe that the cruise industry can be part of President Biden’s stated goal for society to reopen by July 4.'
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings said its policy is not to comment on third-party litigation. 'As we’ve outlined in our proposed plan to safely resume cruising, we look forward to partnering with the CDC to engage in meaningful discussions,' a company spokesperson added. 'We believe the time has come for cruising to resume from US ports. Our proposed plan, including 100% vaccination of guests and crew, universal testing and multi-layered health and safety protocols, is consistent with the CDC’s updated travel guidance.'
DeSantis has been threatening to sue since hosting a cruise round table at Port Canaveral two weeks ago when he called on the CDC to lift its conditional sailing order.
Florida COVID cases
The lawsuit came on a day when Florida reported 7,939 new coronavirus cases, 1,912 of them in Miami-Dade County, 'a large daily increase,' according to the Sun-Sentinel.
'We are very soon getting to the point of demand saturation for vaccines and we may not reach the figures needed for herd immunity,' a Miami-based industry executive said. 'We still do not know what is going to be the "steady state” for this virus and the level of infection rate. Until there is more clarity on some of these items, CDC will be hard-pressed to focus on the cruise industry, but you can be sure CDC will be watching to see how the industry does in international homeports, as it has to date.'
On April 2 the governor issued an executive order to stop private companies from mandating vaccination. An increasing number of Florida-based cruise lines require vaccination for their sailings that are starting outside the US.
In an interview earlier this week, Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Harry Sommer said it was unclear whether the executive order applies to international travel.