Zaan­dam cruise ship with 77 sick heads to port

Miami Herald - - THE VIRUS CRISIS - BY TAY­LOR DOLVEN tdol­[email protected]­ami­her­

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

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