Some cruise ships are mandating vaccines for guests, despite FL and TX ban on vaccine passports

By: - June 10, 2021 3:00 pm

Carnival Vista is part of Carnival Cruise Line. Credit: Wikipedia.

As Florida seeks to dismantle safety protocols and regulations from the federal government through an ongoing court case over the fate of the cruise industry, Carnival Cruise Line plans to comply with the feds by requiring proof of vaccinations for passengers, despite Florida and Texas laws that ban vaccine passports.

Both Republican governors in Florida and Texas have approved legislation to block businesses including cruise ships from a vaccine passport requirement for guests – meaning documentation of an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

But two cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise are set to sail from a Galveston port in July with safety regulations including proof of vaccination for guests, said company spokesman Vance Gulliksen, in an email Thursday to the Florida Phoenix.

Gulliksen added that vaccinated guests aren’t required to wear a facemask, follow social distancing measures and other information about protocols and that “has been communicated to guests sailing on Carnival Vista and Carnival Breeze” from Galveston in July.

However, the cruise line plans to accommodate a small number of unvaccinated guests, Gulliksen said, adding that “there will be testing, mask requirements and other restrictions for unvaccinated guests who are granted an exemption.”

Meanwhile, the case involving Florida’s lawsuit continued with a hearing Thursday in a Tampa court to address more issues surrounding safety regulations and a vaccine requirement for the state’s cruise industry.

Other states, such as Alaska and Texas, have gotten involved in Florida’s lawsuit against the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Health and Human Services.

On the same day Carnival sent out its press release, Texas Governor Greg Abbott made an announcement on Twitter Monday that he’d signed a law that “prohibits any TX (Texas) business or gov’t (government) entity from requiring vaccine passports or any vaccine information.”

Abbott said in a Twitter video: “Texas is open 100 percent. And we want to make sure that you have the freedom to go where you want without limits.”

Carnival Cruise addressed the issue with Texas’ new law in a statement on Monday:

“We are evaluating the legislation recently signed into law in Texas regarding vaccine information. The law provides exceptions for when a business is implementing COVID protocols in accordance with federal law which is consistent with our plans to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s guidelines.”

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a similar law in early April, saying that he wants to protect the freedom and privacy of Floridians. While DeSantis has been in support of reopening Florida’s cruise industry, he’s against vaccine requirements – a key element by the CDC for safely resuming the industry.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.