‘Are you kidding me?’ Gov. DeSantis says no way to vaccine passports for cruises
Ron DeSantis. Image via AP.

Ron DeSantis
The CDC is requiring proof cruise passengers have been vaccinated. But the Governor won't budge on a vaccine passport ban.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing firm, saying there will be no exception for cruise ships in the state’s new vaccine passport ban. The news comes after a report indicated the cruise industry had been lobbying the Governor’s office for an exemption.

The fate of Florida’s multibillion-dollar cruise industry is pitted between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cautious coronavirus rollbacks and DeSantis’ politically calculated embrace of personal liberties.

“The problem is the CDC,” DeSantis said. “The problem is not Florida.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday at a news conference in Ormond Beach, DeSantis described his view of the CDC’s latest directive for the cruise industry.

“’Oh, by the way, if you’re sunbathing you have to make sure they’re wearing a mask while they’re sunbathing,’ DeSantis said speaking as if he were the CDC.

“Are you kidding me?” DeSantis quipped. “That is an absolute farce. So, we’re challenging the authority of the CDC to be involved to this extent.”

The cruise industry has been stalled since a no sail order issued by the CDC in March 2020. At DeSantis’ direction, Florida is suing the CDC over the order. A hearing was heard Wednesday by a federal judge in Tampa. There is no timeline for when the judge will make his decision, though he noted he would move as quickly as possible. DeSantis said he thinks the hearing went well.

“We think we got our points across. We think the judge was receptive,” DeSantis said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The latest directive from the CDC stated that if the cruise industry can prove 95% of passengers are vaccinated, large-capacity cruise ships can start sailing in July. Otherwise, they have to wait another six months.

But proving vaccinations is not easy to do in Florida, where the Governor recently signed a law banning any businesses or institutions from requiring proof of vaccination documentation. If a cruise company violated the ban it would have to pay up to a $5,000 fine on a per passenger basis. The per passenger interpretation of the new law is according to Rep. Tom Leek who sponsored the House version of the bill (SB 2006).

“We want them to be able to make decisions about how they’re going to handle a lot of this stuff, that, obviously, is within the context of Florida policy that respects the medical privacy of all Floridians,” DeSantis said.

Michael Rubin, vice president of the Florida Ports Council, said during the Florida Seaport and Transportation Economic Development Council security meeting Monday that the cruise industry was hoping for an exception to the ban. A spokesperson for the Governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

If Florida can’t find a workaround to its vaccine passport ban or the new CDC order at least one major cruise line, Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has threatened to launch their ships from somewhere other than Florida. DeSantis has suggested cruise lines will go out of the country to ports in the Bahamas.

And on Thursday, DeSantis made a bet that cruise passengers don’t need assurance from vaccine passports before they start cruising again.

“If we are successful in the courts, I am willing to bet anyone that people are going to want to cruise from the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for FloridaPolitics.com. Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected].


  • John

    May 13, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Boats are mobile assets. They can be deployed where the business is. If they stay away from Florida I say good! These ships bring enviormental disaster to everyplace they go. Air pollution, garbage, disease, destruction of our reefs with dredging. Subsidies that hurt local property owners and go right to a few fat cats. `In Miami and Fort Lauderdale the passenger flows bring traffic and crowds. There are few advantages to a local.

    • Joe

      May 13, 2021 at 1:32 pm

      Few advantages…unless they have a job at the port, hotel, transport, or in any other cruise-related business.

  • Brad

    May 15, 2021 at 9:01 am

    Good luck if anyone expects passengers to be truthful about being vaccinated without having to prove it. Just this morning on the news they showed several areas around Orlando where the vaccination rates are still below 25%. The ships are going to need to set up a designated quarantine area for those that fall sick or test positive during the cruise. Not a smart move, DeSantis. You’re worried about “medical privacy” when it comes to proving you’ve been vaccinated? Seriously? That’s more important than everyone’s health?

    • Dan Levitan

      May 17, 2021 at 12:43 pm


      Everyone’s health is their own damn business.

      And anyone who gets into anyone’s face about vaccinations or health stuff, as a Karen, deserves to get their face blown off with the closest shotgun.

  • John

    May 15, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    Oh, Brad, So you think the injection that has now killed over 5000 people is going to save you from corona virus? Really? Not sure where you are getting your information from but you may wish to get some factual information from America’s Frontline Doctors.
    I am glad we live in a Republic.

  • John

    May 16, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    ‘MEDIA BIAS/FACT CHECK’ Site Fails Fact Check | Principia …
    Search domain principia-scientific.comhttps://principia-scientific.com/media-bias-fact-check-site-fails-psi-fact-check/
    Discredited self-styled ‘fact checker’ website is served with a ‘cease and desist’ legal notice today for publishing unsubstantiated and defamatory claims against Principia Scientific International (PSI). MEDIA BIAS FACT CHECK site owner admits he is unqualified and misrepresented himself as a seasoned journalist. According to MEDIA BIAS FACT CHECK Principia Scientific International …

    • Brad

      May 17, 2021 at 9:23 am

      Good luck. There are tons of credible sources that put down ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ and that say there have NOT been thousands killed by the vaccine. Why do you want to believe that stuff so badly? How can you ignore all the sources that don’t support what you want to believe? How can you let ‘America’s Frontline Doctors’ bamboozle you into thinking in such a dangerous way? I’m done. I won’t respond again.

  • John

    May 17, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Tons? Any critically thinking human will pass on your kool-aid bowl.
    I will not risk my health and career injecting experimental toxins into my body. Gee Brad seems like you have an agenda? Looks like I am scratching that exposed nerve?

Comments are closed.


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