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.
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.”\
Please take a moment to watch an update from Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford that was broadcast on in-stateroom television aboard Zaandam and Rotterdam: https://bit.ly/2w1WBuK
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.
Holland America’s MS Zaandam transiting the Panama Canal. pic.twitter.com/ifmc5ZL14A
— The Panama Canal (@thepanamacanal) March 30, 2020
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.”