FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Holland America’s Zaandam and Rotterdam cruise ships are steaming toward Port Everglades, but at this point, there’s still no decision on whether they will be able to dock. A Broward County Commissioner told CBS 4 News that the cruise line submitted several plans today, but they were rejected.
“Nothing can happen. They can not come into US waters, they can not come into our port until a plan is presented and a plan is approved,” said Broward Commissioner Mark Bogen.
Holland America said there are 14 people with flu-like symptoms on the Zaandam and dozens of others on the ship who had been sick have since recovered. Nine people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Four people have died on the ship. Two of the deaths were from COVID-19.
Healthy passengers were transferred from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam over the weekend.
Bogen, the rest of the commission and the Unified Command at the port, which made up of local, state and federal officials, heard from a representative of Holland America’s parent company, the Carnival Corporation, during a hearing on Tuesday. They presented an informal plan that was not approved. Now they’re are making some tweaks as to how they will handle the passengers.
“Hopefully that plan will discuss how they’re getting passengers from the cruise port to the airport by bus and let these people go home. I think that would be a win-win for everybody,” said Bogen.
The idea is to have a Broward Sheriff escort to the airport of busloads of healthy passengers. The sick would remain on board and be treated by cruise ship medical staff.
“What has already been clear, unless Unified Command is satisfied with every aspect of this plan to protect the people of Broward County and Florida that ship will not enter US waters, the Coast Guard will not allow it to enter US waters,” said Broward Mayor Dale Holness.
Governor Ron DeSantis also weighed in on the matter, he doesn’t want the ships to dock.
“Of course my concern is simply that we have worked so hard to make sure we have adequate hospital space in the event of a COVID-19 surge that we wouldn’t want those valuable beds to be taken because of the cruise ship,” DeSantis said.
The White House and governor may be at odds with this one. President Trump has said he’s going to talk with DeSantis.
“They’re dying on the ship,” Trump said. “I’m going to do what’s right. Not only for us but for humanity.”
Ronni Wayne’s son Seth is onboard the Rotterdam. He was transferred from the Zaandam. Wayne said he is healthy, but she’s anxious for him and the others to get back onshore. “They are no longer floating on a cruise ship drinking and having a great time,” she said. “It’s humanitarian, they’re locked in their rooms.”
Broward commissioners had planned to meet again Thursday to try and reach a decision. That’s now changed.
“The Office of the County Attorney, County Administration, and Port Staff have been in ongoing discussions with the Uniform Command and representatives from the Holland America regarding the terms of the potential docking of the two Holland America ships at Port Everglades. As these discussions continue, it is premature to hold a workshop at this time. A workshop on this issue will be convened once the facts warrant it,” said Deputy County Attorney Annika E. Ashton in a statement.
It will be up to the “Unified Command” to approve a detailed docking plan which will require Holland America to handle all medical issues without impacting South Florida’s hospitals.
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