On the day Carnival Cruise Line announced guests on cruises from Galveston needed to be fully vaccinated, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that prevents the cruise line from mandating vaccinations on board.
It’s another step in a hotly contested issue that has the CDC butting heads with Florida and Texas now as well. Carnival said yesterday the cruise line could not provide guests with the experience they expect onboard if they sail under the CDC’s simulated voyage guidelines. It’s a catch 22 situation for the cruise line if the new law will apply to cruise ships sailing from Galveston.
“The freedom to go where you want.”
On the day Carnival Cruise Line announced it did not see possibilities for cruises under the ‘simulated voyage’ scheme the CDC devised for cruise ships, Texas threw a curve-ball for the Miami-based cruise line. Governor Gregg Abbot signed a law that bans businesses in Texas from requiring proof of vaccination from their customers.
In a video that was posted to the governor’s Twitter account, the Governor’s said the following: “Texas is open 100%. We want to make sure you are able to go where you want without limits. I am about to sign a law that prohibits vaccine passports in Texas. Texans should have the freedom to go where they want without any limits, restrictions, or requirements.”
It could be more than just a minor hiccup for Carnival Cruise Line, and one that comes at a time when relations between Texas and Carnival seemed at an all-time high. Many Texas representatives were present on the pier just two weeks ago when both Carnival Vista and Breeze arrived in Galveston. What this bill will be doing to that relationship will be interesting indeed.
Will Carnival Need to Make More Changes?
Carnival Cruise Line had been opposed to the vaccine mandate that the CDC had imposed. However, it saw no other way than moving to do exactly that when the measures would “make it very difficult to deliver the experience” that Carnival’s guests have come to expect.
The vaccine mandate is precisely why the cruise line decided to move both Carnival Vista and Breeze to vaccinated cruise status and has postponed posting the requirements for Carnival Horizon, sailing from Florida to the end of this week.
It was widely believed that the cruise lines and Florida would come to some sort of an agreement on the mandates, but this seems to be further away than ever. Especially now Texas has joined Florida.
It leaves Carnival Cruise Line potentially having to make some painful choices, seeing as the CDC, Florida, or Texas will likely back down on their requirements. However, there is a potential workaround for Carnival. The cruise line said the following in a statement released shortly after the governor signed the bill:
“We are evaluating the legislation recently signed into law in Texas regarding vaccine information. 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 (CDC) guidelines.”
This point in the law would mean Texas acknowledges that Federal law trumps state law. And that would make a plane sailing for the cruise line.