Holland America Line’s Zaandam has 189 people on board with flu like symptoms and four passengers who are already dead.  For weeks, it has been refused port facilities – and now it is heading through the Panama Canal on its way to Florida.

MS Zaandam

It is not clear exactly where the ship will disembark. It has to fulfil a host of conditions before it does.

There were 131 Australians on board when Holland American last reported. Since then, passengers considered healthy have been tendered to the Rotterdam, another Holland American ship.

Cruise line president Orlando Ashford maintains he wishes to “dispel the myth that the intention is to create a healthy ship and a sick ship that will be managed separately.”\

Passenger will be isolated on both  Holland America ships as they navigate the Panama Canal.

The Zaandam had been trying to dock for some time but, perhaps understandably thanks to the current crisis and the unanswered hysteria around cruise ships, no-one has been willing to offer her passengers sanctuary.

The ship left Argentina on March 7 on a two-week South America voyage. No-one has disembarked since March 14.

At last count, there are 446 guests and 602 crew on the Zaandam. There are 797 passengers and 645 crew on the Rotterdam.

Mr Ashford says in his video, as reported by Cruise Weekly: “The important thing here is isolation, whether you are isolated on the Zaandam or isolated on the Rotterdam.  The way that we protect the health of those of you that are healthy is to make sure you are isolated safely while we figure out where it is we are going to take you and allow you to disembark and safely travel home.”

Cruise Weekly also reports Fort Lauderdale authorities as saying the Zaandam must follow proper protocols before receiving permission to dock and disembark passengers.

There is a hostile reception waiting.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said he has received no assurances that passengers “will be escorted from the ship to either a treatment facility or placed in quarantine. This is completely unacceptable.”

CNN reports some passengers have been confined to their state rooms for weeks.
The station quotes Maximilian Jo’s parents, Jae, 76, and Julitta, 75, are both on board the Zaandam.
Mr Jo says  his father was suffering from a fever for hours before being brought Tylenol by the crew. He has been communicating with his parents by email, he said.
The couple, from Long Island, New York, departed on the ship March 7 days before the cruise line announced they would suspend global operations.
They had considered not going on the cruise but when they reached out to Holland America they were told a refund would not be given for their scheduled trip, according to Jo.