Following a nationwide push back against the concept of vaccine passports – which the Biden administration urged the private sector to develop and then require – Royal Caribbean International announced it will reverse course, and will no longer require its cruise passengers to receive one of the controversial COVID-19 vaccines before boarding its ships.
The move comes after Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis led the charge against vaccine passports, first banning them via an executive order, and then asking the Florida legislature to write a permanent law that would ban private companies, schools, and government agencies from requiring vaccine passports. The bill, signed by DeSantis, would levy harsh fines against companies who defied the law. (READ MORE: Ron DeSantis Announces Lawsuit Against Biden Admin, CDC, Doubles Down On Vaccine Passport Ban)
According to The Miami Herald, a Friday press release from the cruise giant revealed that for its upcoming cruises, Royal Caribbean will “recommend passengers get the COVID-19 vaccine, but not requirement.” The Miami Herald notes that this “is a reversal from previous statements and vaccine protocols the company submitted” to the CDC last month, when it “said it would require all passengers at least 18 years and older to be vaccinated.”
In a statement, the company said, “Guests are strongly recommended to set sail fully vaccinated, if they are able.” However, Royal Caribbean noted that those who refuse to accept the vaccines will be treated differently by the company. “Those who are unvaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be required to undergo testing and follow other protocols, which will be announced at a later date.”
A spokesman for the company seemingly acknowledged their change in policy was provoked by moves made by DeSantis and other conservative governors. She told The Miami Herald that, “Our intention is to comply with all federal, state and local laws.”
The decision would also cast doubt on a recent focus group held by anti-Trump pollster Frank Luntz, who says his focus group – full of Trump supporting Republican voters – would accept the vaccine and the vaccine passports if it meant they could travel again, specifically citing cruise lines and international travel. As The Washington Post summarized, “Several vaccine-hesitant participants at a recent focus group of Trump voters led by pollster Frank Luntz suggested their desire to see family, go on vacation and resume other aspects of daily life outpaced fear of the shots, particularly if travel companies and others moved to require proof of vaccination,” emphasis added by National File.