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Florida threatens Celebrity Cruises with fines if it asks passengers for proof of COVID-19 vaccination

May 27, 2021
4 min read
Florida threatens Celebrity Cruises with fines if it asks passengers for proof of COVID-19 vaccination
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Call it a speed bump in the cruise industry's road to recovery — or maybe, a giant sinkhole.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't backing down from his stance that cruise lines operating out of Florida ports can't require passengers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.

In an emailed response on Thursday to questions from TPG, DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw suggested vaccine requirements for sailings that Celebrity Cruises announced Wednesday as part of a plan to restart cruising from Florida on June 26 are in violation of Florida law, and the line could face massive fines if it moves forward with the requirements.

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"Companies doing business in Florida, including Celebrity Cruises, should immediately cease to impose such discriminatory policies upon individuals," Pushaw told TPG. "Companies that violate this law would be subject to a fine of $5,000 each time they require a customer to present a 'vaccine passport' for service."

DeSantis and his team have used the term "vaccine passport" broadly in recent months to include any sort of proof of a vaccine, such as a vaccine card.

Celebrity is the first cruise line to announce a definitive restart to cruises out of Florida. The line on Wednesday said the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had approved its application to restart sailings to the Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades on June 26 with a single ship, the 2,908-passenger Celebrity Edge.

The 2-year-old vessel is the first cruise ship from any line to win CDC approval to restart regular passenger sailings since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Edge. (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

As part of its application to restart sailings with Celebrity Edge, Celebrity agreed to operate the ship with at least 95% of passengers vaccinated for COVID-19.

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Pushaw said Celebrity's vaccine requirements violate the spirit of an executive order that DeSantis signed in April that prohibits the use of "vaccine passports" in Florida and is a direct violation of a similarly worded Florida law that takes effect on July 1.

"Gov. DeSantis has stated many times that allowing private businesses to require 'vaccine passports' for Floridians taking part in everyday life — attending sporting events, dining at restaurants or even going on cruises — would create two unequal classes of citizens based on vaccination status," Pushaw said. "This would be unethical and harmful for society. Allowing companies like Celebrity Cruises to require 'vaccine passports' for customers would mean tolerating discrimination by private businesses, which is unacceptable in Florida."

Pushaw also suggested the CDC had no legal authority to set any sort of requirements to cruise. She called the CDC's guidelines for cruise ships restarting operations in U.S. waters "coercive."

In a statement, Celebrity Cruises said it still was finalizing its health and safety measures for cruises departing from U.S. ports, including Florida, in collaboration with the CDC as well as local authorities.

"Our commitment to sail with fully vaccinated crew members and guests still stands as it is a meaningful layer to ensure we make every effort to help keep safe our guests, crew and the communities we visit," the line said in the statement.

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Featured image by Tim Aylen
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more