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Legal Issues Likely, As Celebrity Edge Gets Ready To Sail Out Of Port Everglades

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The Celebrity Edge is ready to set sail from Port Everglades on June 26th. It will be the first cruise to sail from US waters in more than a year.

"It's very exciting. It's very exciting for Fort Lauderdale and Port Everglades to be the first," said Stacy Ritter of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor's Bureau.

She said the first sailing can't come soon enough. Two million sailed out of Port Everglades in 2019.

For the past year, it's been zero.

"There's no doubt that economic impact spills out to the entire destination, whether shopping, food and drink, staying in a hotel, cruise passengers spend money and spending money puts people back to work in Broward County," Ritter said.

Lori Kenner is a travel agent at Boca Express Travel. She said avid cruisers, who've been sitting at home for more than a year, are ready to get back out on the high seas.

"It's really been crazy. People have been calling us for weeks now: When are the ships sailing, when are the ships sailing? We know as much as anyone else. They're coming soon, they're coming soon," she tells them.

When The Edge sets sail, Celebrity says, "Our commitment to sail with fully vaccinated crew members and guests still stands..."

Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, says getting proof of vaccination would be against the law in Florida.

In a statement, his office said, "Companies doing business in Florida, including Celebrity Cruises, should immediately cease to impose such discriminatory policies upon individuals." He goes on to point out, "Companies that violate this law would be subject to a fine of $5,000 each time they require a customer to present a 'vaccine passport' for service."

Michael Winkleman, who is a maritime attorney, says, "It wouldn't surprise me if this did lead to another lawsuit if Governor DeSantis chooses to enforce the mandates.

He calls this a legally complicated issue.

"Yes, they have their headquarters in Miami, but they are not strictly speaking US companies. They do not pay US taxes, they do not follow US labor laws, so you've got a lot of interesting wrinkles," he said.

Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez is hoping federal mediation will lead to a plan that works for everyone.

"I feel confident, I know the Governor does as well, we'll be able to come up with a plan to not only meet the needs of the cruise industry but also to not violate the law when it comes to vaccine passport mandates," she said. "Stay tuned."

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