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'Help Is On The Way': Gov. Ron DeSantis Files Lawsuit Against Feds, CDC To Reopen Cruise Ship Industry

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has filed a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC demanding that cruise ships be opened immediately, he announced on Thursday.

"We believe that it is time for us to vindicate the state's rights and the rights of the state in court and also vindicate the livelihoods of the tens of thousands of Floridians who depend on this industry," said Gov. DeSantis during a news conference at PortMiami. "Help is on the way. We're going to keep at this until we finally get it open."

Florida is at the heart of the U.S. cruise industry, with PortMiami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral among the busiest ports in the world. Millions of passengers pass through in a typical year. It's worth billions of dollars for the state's economy.

"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," said the governor.

WATCH: Gov. announces lawsuit against feds, CDC to reopen cruise industry


DeSantis has maintained the ban disproportionally impacts Florida and has said that cruising has resumed in much of the world, forcing Americans to fly to other ports in the nearby Bahamas. Industry leaders say there have been no new outbreaks tied to their ships.

"People are going to cruise one way or another. The question is are we going to do it out of Florida, which is the number one place to do it in the world, or are they going to be doing it out of the Bahamas or other locations?" DeSantis said.


The legal action was filed Thursday by Attorney General Ashley Moody.

"Cruises are a vital part of Florida's tourism industry—employing thousands and boosting our state's economy. Every day the federal government unfairly keeps this economic giant docked, our economy suffers. The ripple effect of this misguided federal lockdown has far-reaching implications for the cruise industry, international tourism, businesses that would benefit from the influx of visitors, our state's economy and the thousands of Floridians who work in the industry," said Moody.  "But what is even worse than the economic damage caused by this heavy-handed federal overreach is the precedent being set by an eager-to-regulate Biden administration that is unfairly singling out and keeping docked our cruise industry on the basis of outdated data. Our litigation seeks to end this federal overreach and allow Floridians to safely get back to work and travel."

"When it comes to unemployment, Florida is below the national average but Miami-Dade County's unemployment average is "way higher than the state average and higher than even the national average," said DeSantis.

He blames the no-sail order.

"The main reason for that is because the federal government and the CDC has locked down this industry for over a year. This is not reasonable. This is not rational," he said.

DeSantis is working with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody in filing the lawsuit to lift the no-sail order which has been in place since March of 2020.

The move has cost the state more than $3.2 billion in revenue in just the first six months of the pandemic, cruise industry executives said during a recent meeting with the governor.

Some major cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, say they will require proof of vaccinations for crew and passengers on some voyages.

But the governor is pushing back, saying they will not be doing vaccine passports.

Sandra McLemore, a travel expert, said, "This is problematic because the CDC just issued the next phase of sailing. And one of the things for the cruise industry to start again, get everyone back to work, is strategies in place to make sure that not only the guest but the crew on board are vaccinated."

McLemore said no cruise lines are currently at risk of becoming bankrupt, but they are in hopes of sailing soon.

"There are tens and thousands of crew members sitting at home waiting to come back to work," she said. "But not only that, so many jobs here in the U.S. or even here in South Florida are directly tied to the cruise line industry. And until cruising starts, they also cannot go back to work."

The CDC said last week it will not lift the order before November.

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