Florida and Alaska Republicans Push Senate Bill to Restart Cruises

Republican senators from Florida and Alaska, two states hurt by the government’s pandemic-related restrictions on cruises, introduced a bill Tuesday allowing voyages to restart by July 4.

The so-called Cruise Act, backed by senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, faces long odds for passage but could help pressure federal regulators to relax curbs they imposed on the industry over a year ago when the Covid-19 pandemic forced ship owners to shut down.

The CDC lifted its cruise ban in October, but replaced it with a checklist for restarting cruises that no operator has yet managed to complete. The agency has already said cruising is possible by mid-summer under the existing framework, but the industry says it needs 90 days to prepare to sail again and wants assurances now.

The Caribbean, fed by Florida’s ports, is the industry’s biggest destination, while Alaska ranks No. 2 in the U.S. The shutdown has led to huge losses at Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the largest operators.

The bill would revoke the CDC conditional order by July 4, the U.S. independence day, which President Joe Biden has set as a target for Americans to resume gatherings in small groups. It is unlikely to have much success in the Democrat-controlled Senate or find support at the White House, which has generally deferred to officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on such matters.

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