(NEXSTAR) – Carnival Cruise Line is planning to resume operations out of Texas with fully vaccinated passengers, but the state’s governor is trying to take the wind out of the company’s sails.
The cruise operator announced Monday its first passenger cruises on the Carnival Vista and the Carnival Breeze, to leave from the Port of Galveston on July 3 and July 15, respectively. Passengers who book sailings on either ship will be required to provide proof of receiving a final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks prior to the cruises’ start dates, according to Carnival.
“We appreciate the progress and support for our U.S. restart from the CDC and other key federal agencies; however, the current CDC requirements for cruising with a guest base that is unvaccinated will make it very difficult to deliver the experience our guests expect, especially given the large number of families with younger children who sail with us,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, in a statement shared in Monday’s press release. “As a result, our alternative is to operate our ships from the U.S. during the month of July with vaccinated guests.”
On the same day, however, Texas Governor Greg Abbot (R) signed a bill that aims to prohibit businesses that operate in Texas from requiring proof of vaccination. On Twitter, he also suggested the law would apply to Carnival.
In response, Carnival Cruise Line said it was “evaluating” the legislation but indicated that the new law provided an exception that may allow the cruise operator to require vaccination information anyway.
“We are evaluating the legislation recently signed into law in Texas regarding vaccine information,” reads a statement issued by Carnival. “The law provides exceptions for when a business is implementing COVID protocols in accordance with federal law which is consistent with our plans to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s guidelines.”
The specific exception that Carnival appears to be referring to is located in Section 14 of Senate Bill 968, As it reads, the law cannot restrict any business from “implementing COVID-19 screening and infection control protocols in accordance with state and federal law to protect public health.” As KXAN further points out, the law does not restrict employers from requiring vaccination of their employees, as well.
The CDC’s current instructions require cruise lines to conduct practice cruises to test their COVID-19 safety protocols, but a cruise operator can skip the practice cruises if at least 98% of all crew and 95% of all passengers are fully vaccinated prior to the start of the sailing.
In addition to Texas, the state of Florida has passed similar legislation prohibiting businesses from requiring vaccine information of customers. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has also vowed to “enforce Florida law,” claiming that the state will authorize a $5,000 fine per passenger to any cruise operators that require vaccinations.