According to the New York Times tracker, only 48% of Texans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by last week, compared with 71% in Vermont. (susannp4 / Pixabay)

By Roz Brown – producer, Contact

June 15, 2021

HOUSTON – To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is an impending dilemma for passengers expecting to be welcomed aboard a cruise ship as the industry prepares for a post-pandemic restart.

The port of Galveston is the fourth largest in the country and employs around 30,000 people. At the same time, new laws in Texas and Florida mean that you cannot be required to provide proof of vaccination to any Texan company, including cruise staff.

Dietrich von Biedenfeld, assistant professor of business law at the University of Houston-Downtown, expects some companies to offer vaccinated customers rewards or incentives to protect their economic interests.

“The Republican governors are actually taking this economy away from these private actors by telling them: ‘We know better than you what your business model should be and how it works,'” said von Biedenfeld.

Last week, two passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19. Carnival Cruise Line anticipates that Galveston cruises will resume in the next few weeks and all passengers will need to be vaccinated. Other cruise lines have said they “strongly recommend” vaccinations but do not require them.

Von Bielefeld pointed out that people waiting for their ship to start normally spend money on hotels, restaurants, and rental cars, and feared that Galveston’s economy could be hurt by the fact that Texas would not require proof of vaccination when cruise travelers with health problems Problems or a weakened immune system go elsewhere.

“We heard the phrase ‘floating petri dish’,” noted von Bielefeld. “It’s not a very flattering term for cruise lines because individuals are isolated. As a result, the United States has other ports of entry for cruise lines, so you may be able to bring a cruise line with you from another state.”

Before the pandemic, Cruise ship embarkations in Galveston rose by almost 11% in 2019, breaking the million mark for the first time, according to a study by the Cruise Line International Association.

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