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Norwegian cruises challenges Florida passenger vaccine law

The judge did not indicate when she would rule.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Norwegian Cruise Line is asking a federal judge to block a Florida law prohibiting cruise companies from demanding that passengers show written proof of coronavirus vaccination before they board a ship.

Norwegian contended at a hearing Friday the “vaccine passport” ban, signed into law in May by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, jeopardizes the health and safety of passengers and crew and is an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment. 

It also contains a fine of $5,000 per passenger for violations. Florida officials say the law’s aim is to prevent discrimination against passengers who don’t get vaccinated. 

RELATED: Appeals court vacates stay on keeping CDC pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships

The company, officially known as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings or NCLH, says it won't be able to sail from Florida unless a judge acts to block the law.

“The result would be a devastating, unrecoverable loss for everyone — not only for NCLH’s business but also for tens of thousands of passengers, employees, and stakeholders who all benefit from NCLH resuming safe operations as planned,” the lawsuit says.

“The only way NCLH could maintain its protocols and operations as currently planned is by abandoning Florida altogether,” it adds.

The judge did not indicate when she would rule.

RELATED: Norwegian cruises sues Florida over virus vaccination law

In July, DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw noted that Florida recently won a lawsuit challenging several cruise industry regulations imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Florida already fought and won its case so that Norwegian and all other cruise lines can invite and serve all Americans on its vessels,” Pushaw said. “But apparently Norwegian prefers the shackles of the CDC to the freedom offered by Florida.”

10 Tampa Bay has reached out to Norwegian for comment. This story will be updated once we hear back.

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