Disney Cruise Line’s first test cruise has been delayed until July due to inconsistent Covid-19 test results among staff.
The Disney Dream cruise ship was scheduled to depart from Port Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday 29th June with 300 employees who had volunteered for the ‘simulation’ cruise.
The planned test cruise was set to be an attempt to prove that its health and safety protocols worked so that it can get the thumbs up to resume operations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC allows for cruises to resume as long as they can prove that 95% of passengers are vaccinated, or can show the CDC through a test run that there are proper safety measures in place to operate with unvaccinated passengers.
However, the trip was postponed to July after five fully vaccinated employees tested positive for Covid-19.
Previously, the five members of staff tested negative for the virus, and were asymptomatic, before testing negative again a day later, suggesting that the tests were unreliable.
The cruise was supposed to set sail from Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned private businesses from checking vaccine status through an executive order in March, which has caused conflict between his office, cruise lines, and the CDC.
As a result of the ban, Disney must now prove that it can potentially limit the spread of the virus on their cruise lines.
Florida is one of the main hubs of the cruise industry, which has been devastated since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as all major cruise lines had to shut down in March 2020.
After being forced to halt services for over 14 months, the $40 billion industry, which employs over 4000,000 workers is preparing to resume services as the country begins to reopen.
However, two conditions stand in the way of cruise lines being able to welcome passengers aboard once again: the CDC’s requirement of having 95% of passengers vaccinated, and Gov. DeSantis’ executive order. DeSantis’ order stands as long as the CDC maintains its position on the matter.
Earlier in June, a federal judge ruled in favor of a suit filed by Gov. DeSantis against the CDC, stating that the agency could not prevent cruises from departing unless 95% of passengers were vaccinated.
DeSantis said in a statement about the lawsuit: “The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it.
“The CDC and the Biden Administration concocted a plan to sink the cruise industry, hiding behind bureaucratic delay and lawsuits.
“Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”
After securing the victory, the CDC had to update its guidelines to reflect the changes, now allowing cruise liners to bypass the requirements as long as they could prove on a test run that they can safely operate a cruise with unvaccinated passengers.
For example, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is allowing unvaccinated passengers on board, nut they must pay a $136 (£100) testing fee, they will not be allowed to attend certain events and unvaccinated passengers will only be allowed in dining areas during limited times.
Many cruise liners are hoping to bypass DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban and avoid the costly test runs.
In May, a lawsuit was filed against DeSantis by a major cruise liner that claimed that they should be able to abide by federal laws instead of those set by the state.
Patrick Scholes, a travel industry analyst, told NBC: “It has been a year of migraines and kicks in the teeth for the cruise industry. Now, they’re finally getting ready to restart, and you have the governor of Florida basically playing a game of chicken with them.”
He also said that for every day cruise liners are unable to operate as a result of the regulation, they will be losing millions of dollars.
Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line raised concerns over the political battle, stating that if needed, the cruise line will move away from Florida and operate elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Disney will not be able to resume the Disney Dream cruise ship until July due to the potential positive Covid-19 cases, which is expected to cost the company millions of dollars.
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