Hol­land Amer­ica cruise ship in limbo with 77 ill on board

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Mor­gan Hines

At least 77 peo­ple on board Hol­land Amer­ica’s MS Zaan­dam cruise ship, in­clud­ing 30 pas­sen­gers and 47 crew mem­bers, have re­ported “flu-like” symp­toms to the ship’s med­i­cal cen­ter.

There are 1,243 pas­sen­gers and 586 crew mem­bers on the ship, in­clud­ing 305 Amer­i­cans.

Flu symp­toms and coro­n­avirus symp­toms are sim­i­lar, so the cruise line “out of an abun­dance of cau­tion” told pas­sen­gers to stay in their state­rooms on Sun­day. There are no test kits for COVID-19 on board, Hol­land Amer­ica said in a state­ment provided by spokesper­son Erik Elve­jord.

But Hol­land Amer­ica Line has de­ployed an­other one of its ships, the Rot­ter­dam, which is car­ry­ing no guests, to meet up with the Zaan­dam by Thurs­day to pro­vide ex­tra sup­plies, staff mem­bers, COVID-19 test kits and ad­di­tional sup­port.

All ports along the ship’s route are closed to cruise ships as they seek to stem the spread of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. While the ship in­tends to head to Fort Laud­erdale, Florida, with an an­tic­i­pated ar­rival of March 30, backup plans are be­ing de­vel­oped as ships around the world have been de­nied ports and scram­bled to get pas­sen­gers dis­em­barked.

“When we have the full plan, we’ll let guests and oth­ers know,” Elve­jord told USA TO­DAY in an email.

Crew mem­bers not re­quired for Zaan­dam ship op­er­a­tions are also be­ing quar­an­tined. The re­main­ing crew mem­bers are asked to self-iso­late when not per­form­ing es­sen­tial func­tions.

The Zaan­dam be­gan its South Amer­i­can voy­age from Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina, on March 7 and was orig­i­nally sched­uled to end the sail­ing in San An­to­nio, Chile, March 21.

How­ever, Hol­land Amer­ica Line, along with ma­jor cruise lines world­wide, an­nounced March 13 it would sus­pend cruise op­er­a­tions for at least 30 days and end its cruises in progress.

The Zaan­dam stopped in Val­paraiso, Chile, at the end of last week and has food and fuel for the re­main­der of the ship’s in­tended jour­ney to the U.S., the line said.

As of Tuesday morn­ing, ap­prox­i­mately 7.1%, or about 20 of trade or­ga­ni­za­tion Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion’s 277 mem­ber ships, were still at sea and in the process of wrap­ping up cur­rent voy­ages.

“This is a highly fluid sit­u­a­tion, with num­bers chang­ing by the hour as cruise ships around the world are com­plet­ing their voy­ages,” Bari GolinBlau­grund, CLIA’s se­nior direc­tor of strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions told USA TO­DAY on Thurs­day.

“The vast ma­jor­ity of the rest are ei­ther at port, an­chored or repo­si­tion­ing,” Golin-Blau­grund said. “CLIA mem­bers are focused on the safe and smooth re­turn home of those on­board cruise ships that are cur­rently at sea.”

PETER KNEGO

The Zaan­dam car­ries at least 77 pas­sen­gers ex­hibit­ing “flu-like” symp­toms, but there are no test kids for COVID-19 on board.

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