Zaandam cruise ship with 77 sick heads to port
A cruise ship with 77 sick people on board is hoping to dock in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on March 30.
The Holland America Line Zaandam ship, owned by Carnival Corporation, originally left Buenos
Aires, Argentina, on March 7 with 1,243 passengers and 586 crew on board.
The cruise was scheduled to end in Chile on March 21, but Chile did not allow anyone on board to disembark. The ship left Chile on March 21, and is trying to secure transit through the Panama Canal to be able to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on March 30, the company said in a statement.
On Sunday, Holland America Line said 42 people, including 29 crew members, had reported flu-like symptoms. On Tuesday, the company said 77 people have reported flu-like symptoms, including 47 crew members.
There is no COVID-19 testing available on board. All ports along the ship’s route to Florida are closed to cruise ships.
The company is deploying another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, to carry COVID-19 test kits to the Zaandam when it gets to the coast of Panama on March 26, the company said.
All passengers and nonessential crew members are directed to stay in their cabins, and everyone who is ill is being isolated, the company said.
Broward County commissioners held a special session Tuesday morning to discuss what to do with the ship. Some opposed allowing the ship to dock because it did not originate in Florida. Others said the ship should be allowed to dock as a humanitarian obligation.
In the end the commission decided to wait to make a call.
“We’re not ready to make a decision at this time,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dale Holness. “We don’t have any CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] confirmation about what is going on with that ship.”
A spokesperson for Port Everglades said officials at the port are monitoring the ship’s progress. The Florida Department of Health referred questions to the CDC. The CDC did not respond to a request for comment about how the ship’s arrival would be handled.
Originally, the next cruise for the ship was a 30-day voyage from Chile to Fort Lauderdale, to arrive on April 7. The company said 411 passengers currently on board had planned to stay on for the next leg to Florida, which was canceled on March 13 when Carnival Corp. agreed to temporarily stop its cruise operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Miramar man on board who had planned to get off in Chile is hoping Broward County will allow the ship to dock in Fort Lauderdale. He said he and his wife don’t want their names published because they don’t want to be criticized for being on a cruise ship during a pandemic.
He said they have been confined to their cabins since Sunday afternoon and are not having any symptoms. Crew members are delivering meals and drinks to the cabin by leaving the dishes outside the door. All are wearing masks and gloves, he said.
“Washing our hands several times an hour,” he said via text. “Anytime we touch the door handle to hallway and to eat, drink, etc.”
Taylor Dolven: 305-376-2052, @taydolven