By Carey Codd

BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Cliff Kolber and his wife, who live in Miramar, set sail on the Zaandam on March 6 for a two-week cruise.

Kolber said the first week at sea was fairly normal but once it appeared that the coronavirus was morphing into a pandemic, he and his wife starting eating alone at dinner and refraining from going to shows on the ship. He said they basically self-isolated.

Last Sunday, Kolber said, the ship told everyone to isolate in their rooms and food and drink were brought to them.

Yesterday, Kolber and his wife, who are healthy, were transferred from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam and they’re hoping to return to South Florida, despite protestations from Gov. Ron DeSantis and wavering feelings from other leaders.

“I do know this is a very serious thing but I think this is getting out of hand,” Kolber told CBS4 News.

Kolber said allowing the ships to dock at Port Everglades is the right thing to do. In fact, he drew a parallel between this situation and the situation more than 80 years ago when American leaders refused to allow the SS St. Louis to dock in the U.S. That ship carried Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and historians believe a number wound up in German hands and were killed.

“I’m Jewish,” Kolber said. “I remember the St. Louis. I was brought up reading about it. I never thought I would be put in the same position.”

Orlando Ashford, President of the Holland America Line, argued in an editorial to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the right choice is allow the Zaandam and Rotterdam to dock at Port Everglades.

“The COVID-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our common humanity. To slam the door in the face of these people betrays our deepest human values.”

Cliff Kolber agrees.

“We are their residents,” he said. “We are U.S. citizens. There is no reason for what they’re doing. It’s getting out of hand.”

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