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Norwegian Plans Florida Sailings, Stands By Vaccinated Passengers Rule

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) - Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is ready to set sail from two Florida ports with fully vaccinated passengers despite a new state law that prohibits businesses from asking for proof.

On Monday, the Miami-based cruise line announced sailings from PortMiami and Port Canaveral as well as New York and Los Angeles.

The sailings are contingent on obtaining a certificate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it remains unclear how the plans can be reconciled with Florida's law. Norwegian said in a statement that it is in contact with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office on the requirements.

"We are currently in communication with his staff and legal counsel to ensure that we can offer the safest cruise experience for our passengers departing from the cruise capital of the world," said Norwegian's CEO, Frank Del Rio.

The Centers for Disease Control, in an update to its conditional sailing order, said cruises could 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. If those conditions aren't met, cruise lines must prove the effectiveness of their COVID-19 safety protocols on test cruises.

In April, DeSantis signed an order banning businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination and prohibiting state agencies from issuing so-called vaccine passports that document COVID-19 vaccinations and test results. The governor argues the legislation was meant to preserve individual freedom and medical privacy.

Carnival Cruise Line, also based in Miami, announced sailings from the Port of Galveston, Texas, with vaccinated guests and said it was working with state officials for a ship to leave from PortMiami.

Royal Caribbean International said Friday that eight of its ships will resume U.S. voyages in July and August with trips leaving Florida, Texas, and Washington state ports. That company said that passengers are "strongly recommended" to get vaccinated, adding that unvaccinated passengers must be tested for the virus and follow other measures.

MSC Cruises has been approved by the CDC for simulated sailing aboard the MSC Meraviglia.

MSC Meraviglia will depart on July 17 from PortMiami, sailing to Ocean Cay, MSC Cruises' new private island in The Bahamas.

MSC operates four ships in total in North America, all different classes and experiences, including the new MSC Seashore arriving in November to a new terminal at PortMiami.

Disney Cruise Line said last week that the CDC approved a request to conduct a two-night simulation cruise later this month departing from Port Canaveral.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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