Disney Dream returns to Port Canaveral after first test cruise

For the first time in 16 months, a Disney cruise ship returned to Port Canaveral Monday morning after embarking on a test cruise with Disney employees.

It is part of Disney’s efforts to get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) approval to sail with paying customers.

The Disney Dream’s return comes as a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals ruled over the weekend to temporarily keep CDC COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships in place. The decision came just minutes before a Tampa judge’s previous ruling that sided with a Florida lawsuit challenging the regulations.

The CDC regulations will stay in place while the CDC appeals the June decision by U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday.

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said the CDC’s four-step process to allowing cruising from Florida is overly burdensome and harms a multi-billion dollar industry and Florida’s economy.

"We’ve seen throughout the country government overstep its bounds in response to the coronavirus pandemic," Governor DeSantis said in June. "And you can’t have an agency relying on flimsy legal authority to keep an entire industry closed with no path forward."

The CDC said its rules will prevent COVID-19 outbreaks on ships that have close quarters and frequent stops at foreign ports.

FOX Business Contributor Gary Kaltbaum weighed in on the court’s decision.

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"It means the CDC gets to regulate everything, overseas, everything. And, you have a cruise industry in Florida that’s a measly 50-60 billion dollar impact. Whatever the CDC wants they get at this juncture," he said.

It has been 16 months since a cruise ship has set sail from Central Florida with paying passengers. In two weeks, Carnival’s Mardi Gras is expected to become the first ship to sail from Port Canaveral with paying passengers since March 2020.

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.