On Sunday, the Norwegian Gem will set sail to the Caribbean out of Miami, the cruise line's first sailing from Florida since the pandemic shuttered the cruise industry last year. Now, a judge has just given the parent company a win on its quest to make sure all passengers have been inoculated. Last month, Norwegian sued the state of Florida over the state's ban on businesses asking for a so-called vaccine passport. On Sunday, US District Judge Kathleen Williams OKed the cruise line's request for a temporary injunction against that ban, per Politico. "Amid myriad, rapidly-changing requirements regarding quarantining and testing, there is one constant that facilitates cruise line customers' access to advertised ports of call: documentary proof of vaccination will expedite passengers' entry into virtually every single country and port where plaintiffs intend to sail," Williams wrote in her ruling.
Williams' decision noted that such a ban on vax proof puts public health at risk and illegally tramples on Norwegian's rights, per Reuters. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's made a name for himself for bucking COVID restrictions, had put the original ban against vaccine passports in place in the spring, when he signed an executive order to that effect. Before Williams' ruling, cruise lines could've been fined $5,000 for every passenger from which it requested proof of vaccination. An attorney for the state and Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, also named in the suit, suggested at a Friday court hearing that Florida may push to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Norwegian, meanwhile, is pleased with the outcome. "This order will now allow the company to operate in the safest way possible with 100% vaccination of all guests and crew when sailing from Florida ports," the company said. The cruise line will also require guests to take a COVID test before ships set sail, per CNBC. (Read more Norwegian Cruise Line stories.)