MIAMI BEACH -- Over the past several months, Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has stated that the Covid-19 mandate for 100% passengers is a competitive advantage.
Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief of Travel Weekly, and Del Rio spoke on Friday at CruiseWorld. He said that he has the numbers.
Weissmann questioned whether surveys of consumers showed that people would like to sail on vaccinated cruises.
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Del Rio replied, "The best consumer poll is facts." And the truth is that we -- and I mean all three brands (Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises), are more booked for 2022 and 2023 than ever before. This is despite the fact that prices were much higher in 2023 and 2022 than they were at any point prior to the pandemic. "This is proof that we have a 100% vaccination mandate on our vessels. It is a competitive advantage.
Del Rio acknowledged that vaccine acceptance is not universal in the U.S.
Florida's court battle
Weissmann, Del Rio spoke also about the ongoing court battle between NCLH (the state of Florida) and Del Rio. In August, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's office stated it would appeal the decision of a federal judge allowing NCLH proof of vaccination in order to sail from Florida.
Del Rio stated that he believes the case will not be heard by a district court until next summer. "Hopefully it will be moot by then because we'll have had the pandemic behind, but it could not. As you all know, this pandemic has brought us many surprises."
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Weissmann asked Del Rio whether NCLH would appeal against a Florida court win.
To applause from the other travel advisors, he said, "We will ensure the safety and health of our guests and crew." We will continue to fight for our guests' safety and health if that means we must continue to fight the legal battle.
Del Rio said, "It's beyond me how the leadership in this country -- whether at the White House, Governor's Mansion, the legislature or the judges, and the mayors -- have failed us to protect ourselves."
"If they don’t do it, then we will."