MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Four guests onboard Holland America’s Zaandam cruise ship have passed away. A statement on the company website Friday said the guests were “older,” but did not confirm whether or not they died from COVID-19.
The ship is currently off the coast of Panama with 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board. Three hundred and five of those passengers are U.S. citizens and some are from Broward County.
On Friday night, Panamanian authorities denied the ship access tot he canal. So, it may not come to South Florida after all.
Here is what they had to say in a tweet:
Panama Canal’s statement about Holland America’s MS Zaandam: pic.twitter.com/NnJw6MBzcy
— The Panama Canal (@thepanamacanal) March 27, 2020
Cliff and Doris Kolber from Miramar are on the cruise Cliff Kolber has posted on social media the email addresses of county commissioners telling everyone to write about their predicament.
Earlier on Friday, some county leaders have expressed concerns about the ship coming to Fort Lauderdale.
“I feel sorry for the people on board the ship,” said Broward commissioner Michael Udine. Udine says he worries about the strain it will place on limited medical resources, if it’s allowed to dock here.
The company states there have been 53 guests and 85 crew who are ill with flu-like symptoms. Thursday, “a number of patients with respiratory symptoms were tested for COVID-19 and two individuals tested positive,” said the company in a statement.
The Zaandam rendezvoused with its sister ship Rotterdam Thursday night in order to transfer medical supplies, COVID-19 testing kits, and additional medical staff to the Zaandam.
In addition, passengers who are healthy are being moved from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam following strict protocols developed in conjunction with the CDC.
Guests over 70 years old get priority. Once all healthy passengers are on the Rotterdam, they will continue to remain in their staterooms.
Anyone who is sick on the Zaandam, will remain on that ship.
Current Curfews In South Florida
Drive-Through Testing Locations
Coronavirus, Pandemic, Quarantine, Social Distancing: All The Terms You Need To Know
Track The Spread Of The Coronavirus In Real Time
There are four doctors and four nurses on the Zaandam and two doctors and four nurses on the Rotterdam.
Zaandam departed Buenos Aires on March 7, prior to Holland America’s March 17 decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days. The voyage was scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile, where guests were initially told they could disembark for flights but were not permitted to.
The ship was at anchor for several days in Valparaiso, Chile, while it took on more provisions and fuel before departing for Fort Lauderdale.
For those with family members on board, they can call the following numbers for information: 877-425-2231 or 206-626-7398.