Federal Judge Rules In Favor Of Cruise Lines Requiring Passenger Vaccination Proof

On Sunday, a federal judge ruled against Florida prohibiting cruise lines from requiring their passengers provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination before boarding their ships (i.e. vaccine passport).

According to UPI, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams stated that Governor DeSantis’s order prohibiting cruise ship companies, like Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), from requiring proof of vaccinations from passengers was likely unconstitutional since it impinged on the corporation’s First Amendment rights. Consequently, Judge Williams issued a restraining order allowing Norwegian to proceed with its policy.

While Norwegian was pleased with the ruling, in his response, Governor DeSantis not only stated his disagreement with the judge’s decision, but also advised the rationale for the prohibition stating it is about preventing discrimination based on one’s private medical history.

UPI reports in her ruling, Judge Williams stated that the state “articulate or provide any evidence of harms that the state would suffer if an injunction was entered.” However, according to DeSantis, the point of his order is to protect the privacy of the passengers, not violate the rights of cruise line companies whom ultimately provide services to the public, including Floridians.

This is a very interesting case and it will be fascinating to see what decisions are handed down from higher level courts since Florida says they plan to appeal. Both parties are making very strong arguments for their positions. Florida’s is of particular interest due to the privacy implications of the vaccine mandate.

Would any of us feel safer if a cruise line company, like Norwegian, had access to even a small slice of our medical history? I know I wouldn’t and might be apt to go on a cruise that didn’t require proof of coronavirus vaccination or forgo the cruise altogether.