Florida Is Suing the U.S. Government Over Cruise Restrictions

Florida Man strikes again

Cruise Ships, Miami, Florida
John Coletti / Getty Images

State governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday, April 8, 2021, that he was suing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Biden administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, to get the government to allow U.S. cruise sailings to resume ASAP.

It’s been a long year and some change for the U.S. cruise industry. Despite pleas from several cruise lines and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to shorten the timeline to bring cruises back to U.S. waters, the CDC hasn’t budged—though it did recently release long-awaited next steps for its phased restart plan.

Via DeSantis, Florida, home to three of the world’s busiest cruise ports by passenger volume—Miami, Port Canaveral, and Everglades—isn’t taking no for an answer. 

During a press conference from PortMiami (reportedly unattended by any cruise lines), DeSantis rolled through comments on how Florida’s overall economy and unemployment rate are better than the national average—except in Miami-Dade county, which he blamed on the continued shutdown of the cruise industry.

“Today, Florida is fighting back. We’re filing a lawsuit against the federal government and the CDC, demanding that our cruise ships be reopened immediately,” DeSantis said. “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.”

Some experts believe the announcement is a political stunt as DeSantis is a republican and was a very outspoken supporter of President Trump. However, DeSantis’ own stated reasons for the lawsuit are mostly economical. He argued that continuing to stop cruises in the U.S. is “irrational” because it won’t stop people from cruising in general.

“It’s a much different situation than a year ago, but guess what? People are still going to go on cruises,” he said. “Instead of flying down to Miami, spending money to stay in our hotels, spending money to eat in our restaurants before they get on the ship, they’re going to fly to the Bahamas, and they’re going to get on the ships from the Bahamas, and then they’re going to spend the money in the Bahamas.”

While this point is valid, the CDC’s current cruise restrictions and Conditional Sailing Order are based on health and safety concerns, not economic impact. According to an interview with the Miami Herald earlier this week, the CDC Maritime Division head Martin Cetron reportedly said that cruises could restart in the U.S. as early as July—matching the timeline recently requested by cruise lines—but only if vaccination numbers were high in tandem with a lower presence of the more contagious, and sometimes deadlier, COVID-19 variants.

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  1. Miami Herald. "DeSantis Sues CDC to Get Cruises Restarted. Experts Call it a 'Political Stunt.'" April 9, 2021.

  2. Miami Herald. "CDC Says Passengers Could Be Boarding Cruise Ships in US Ports as Soon as July." April 6, 2021.