CDC says Florida lawsuit imperils summer cruises to Alaska

Experts Say These Are theCOVID-Caused Changes You’llSee on Cruise Ships.In April 2020, the CDC issued a “no-sail order,”which required all cruise ships to suspend operations.That order was extended and tweaked as theCOVID-19 pandemic went on. Now, cruise ships areallowed to set sail again, but with a number ofCOVID-caused rules and restrictions.Here are 10 changes that experts say you’ll see aboardcruise ships if you decide to sail this summer.1. Face masksrequired in publicspaces, at events and during shows.2. Reduced shore excursion options.3. Detailed health screenings before boarding.4. Mandatory vaccination requirements.5. Enforcedsocial distancing.6. No self-serve buffet options.7. Guests will be encouragedto use their own bathrooms,not the public ones.8. Indoors shows that require reservationsor operate on a lottery system for tickets. .9. No more behind-the-scenes tours. .10. Amenities won’t be as readily availableand will require reservations

U.S. officials say Florida’s lawsuit against the federal government over conditions for cruise lines to resume sailing could threaten plans to restart cruising in Alaska.

Florida sued the Biden administration to throw out requirements, called a conditional sailing order, that were imposed on cruise lines before they can sail in U.S. water for the first time since March 2020.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Congress effectively ratified the conditional sailing order when it passed a law last month to let large cruise ships resume trips from Washington state to Alaska this summer.

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If Florida wins an injunction blocking the CDC order, it would “end cruising in Alaska for the season,” lawyers for the agency say because the bill pushed by Alaska’s Republican congressional delegation hinges on the CDC order being in effect. Several cruise lines have announced plans to sail to Alaska with vaccinated crew members and passengers starting in a few weeks.

Alaska estimates that cruising contributes $3 billion a year to the state economy. Alaska and Texas, another state with a sizable cruising industry, sided with Florida early in the case.

Alaska’s attorney general’s office complained in a court filing this week about the CDC’s “constantly-morphing orders, restrictions and guidance” for large cruise ships.

Federal lawyers also said in a filing this week that granting Florida’s wish to block the CDC’s regulation of the cruising restart would undermine public confidence in cruising, “particularly in the state of Florida, which is publicly battling with the industry over its own laws.”

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That was a reference to concern among cruise lines that a state law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit the companies from requiring that passengers be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The federal judge overseeing Florida’s lawsuit against the Biden administration ordered both sides into mediation, which has failed to end the standoff.

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