The Norwegian Gem is the first fully vaccinated ship to sail from Florida, defying a ban on requesting proof of vaccinations put in place by the Governor of Florida.
In July, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sued Florida for its vaccine passport ban. This law stops businesses from requiring customers and employees to disclose COVID19 vaccination status.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s conditional sailing order allows cruise ships to operate with a minimum vaccine threshold. Ships need to have at least 95% of their passengers and crew members vaccinated. However, Norwegian was adamant to run a fully vaccinated ship despite having an option to mix vaccinated and unvaccinated people onboard.
On August 8, a judge sided with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings in favor of a preliminary injunction on the law. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis then said that Florida will appeal the ruling. Norwegian CEO Frank Del Rio calls Florida’s stance to prolong the case “shameful”.
Resumption and Worldwide Operations
Norwegian Gem is not the only Norwegian ship that has returned to sailing. The cruise ship operator had their first ship, Norwegian Jade sail in Greece on July 25. It was followed by Norwegian Encore that sailed from Seattle to Alaska on August 7.
Norwegian’s president and chief executive officer Harry Sommer said
“It has been an exhilarating few weeks as we relaunch our fleet, reunited with our shipboard families, and welcome our guests back for their long-awaited cruise vacations.”
In reference to the relaunch of ships from Florida, Sommer added:
“Today is even more special as it is the first time we are re-launching from our hometown and from the new NCL Terminal at PortMiami”.
Norwegian Gem will call on ports in Costa May & Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras, and Harvest Caye, Belize from their departure port in Miami, Florida.
Smooth Sailing 2022?
Del Rio is also confident that 2022 will be a better year for the company. He said, “I think the back half of 2022 could be the best back half the company ever had”. He explained, “that is how good bookings are for the future. That’s how strong pricing is”.