Travel Tuesday: When the King of Fools Foils His Own Plans

We discovered cruising

One of the delights about living in South Florida that we discovered when we relocated from upstate New York is the easy access to cruising. Barely an hour’s drive door-to-ship is all we’ve had to do to gain access to multiple Caribbean cruises and the delicious world of warm turquoise waters in Aruba, stunning caves in Curaçao, Mayan ruins in Cozumel, a walk through Old San Juan, colonial history in Colombia, a day on the Panama Canal, and lunch at a coffee plantation in Costa Rica. We even crossed the Atlantic on out last cruise.

Stopped by my illness and the pandemic

My close call with a serious illness during our trans-Atlantic cruise put a damper on our passion for travel far out to sea, and then came the pandemic. The world watched as the infected Diamond Princess was turned away from port after port, and the notion of climbing back aboard a confined space with thousands of people simply doesn’t seem like fun anymore.

Vaccines allowing cruise resumption

However, the vaccine has begun to change the landscape, and cruising will commence slowly this summer. Not for us — though maybe a river trip at some point — but the industry that has made Florida its headquarters is on the comeback.

Thanks in large part to the successful rollout of vaccines, the world of adventure is beginning to open up, and we are all excited to start delivering great vacations to our guests.

Royal Caribbean International President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bayley

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandates that at least 95% of crew members and 95% of passengers be vaccinated, but two leading cruise lines are taking it a step further. Carnival and Norwegian will require all passengers to vaccinated when they commence sailing in a few months.

Governor makes vaccine passport illegal

However, a Florida law signed on May 3 by Governor Ron DeSantis makes it illegal for any company to ask for proof of vaccinations, the so-called vaccine passport.

Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz
Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz

The notion that producing proof of immunization is to submit to some sort of oppression is lunatic enough, considering the life-and-death stakes. But the cruise industry is one of the most important in this state. And having long fought the stigma of noroviruses and then the COVID horror of the Diamond Princess, no other industry could be more anxious to keep itself virus-free.

The Editors, The Palm Beach Post

Governor DeSantis has both sued the CDC for preventing the cruise industry from sailing, and made safe sailing impossible under the law. Like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first sees him —with one hand pointing one way and the other in the opposite direction — he has made himself a prisoner of his own arms.

Cruise to nowhere solution

My favorite snarky newspaper columnist has an equally insane solution.

I say, if we’re going to do this, let’s do this right. The cruise ships should embark the unvaccinated Floridians, and then immediately quarantine them on the ship. Then, once the ship leaves port and reaches international waters 3 miles offshore, the unvaccinated could be rounded up on deck and sent by helicopters or motorboats back to Florida.

Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post

Governor DeSantis acts as if, Cerabino concludes, there’s no harm he is unwilling to impose on Floridians if it helps him carve out a niche for himself as the King of Fools.

If he only had a brain, as the song goes.

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