Another long drawn out drama involving disembarking passengers from coronavirus-hit cruise ships is drawing to a close. The Zaandam, the first of two Holland America ships that had been held off Port Everglades was permitted to dock in the port this evening where she will be followed by sister Holland American ship Rotterdam.
There are 808 guests and 583 crew on Rotterdam. On Zaandam there are 442 guests and 603 crew. Reportedly those aboard the Zaandam include four passengers who died and whose remains are in the ship’s morgue. Two of those deaths were attributed to the coronavirus. A few days ago, Holland America moved more than 800 healthy Zaandam passengers to the Rotterdam.
The docking of the two ships follows the signing of a lengthy agreement by Holland America’s parent Carnival Corporation. Miami CBS Channel 4 TV has made the text of that agreement available HERE
Holland America issued the following statement at 4.30 pm EDT today.
Holland America Line is pleased to confirm that Broward County and the Unified Command cleared both Zaandam and Rotterdam for arrival to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to disembark guests who are fit to travel per guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
We extend our sincere gratitude to President Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, Port Everglades Unified Command, Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry and all governmental and embassy authorities who helped to resolve this situation and get our nearly 1,200 guests home. And a special thank you to Broward County Mayor Dale Holness for his leadership, help and understanding.
“These travelers could have been any one of us or our families, unexpectedly caught in the middle of this unprecedented closure of global borders that happened in a matter of days and without warning,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “We are so happy to be able to get our guests home and assist those few who need additional medical services. The COVID-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our shared humanity, and we must do everything we can to ensure we continue to act in ways consistent with our common human dignity.
“Our guests on board both ships have been truly incredible, and we extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to all of them,” continued Ashford. “Their cooperation, support and understanding throughout this entire experience helped us best protect the health of all on board and ensured our shipboard teams could focus on caring for everyone and getting them home.
“I would also like to extend my sincerest thanks to the amazing officers and crews of Zaandam and Rotterdam,” continued Ashford. “They are heroes who rose to the challenge of taking care of our guests and each other under extraordinary circumstances. All of us at Holland America Line are so very proud of our colleagues for their exemplary leadership and service.”
Following arrival in Port Everglades, guests will be health screened and also cleared for entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Disembarkation is expected to be completed by tomorrow evening, with priority given today to those who need immediate care at local health system partners who have approved their arrival.
Fit-to-travel guests will transfer straight from ship onto buses for transfer directly to the airport for their flights home. The majority will leave on charter flights. Local Florida residents will return home immediately via private car. Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have self-isolated in their staterooms since March 22.
Guests who still have symptoms will remain on board and disembark at a later date to be finalized after they have fully recovered and meet the CDC guidelines for being fit to travel. They will continue to be well cared for on board by the ships’ medical staffs.
No crew from either ship will disembark in Fort Lauderdale.
Since March 22, 107 guests (90 on Zaandam/17 on Rotterdam) and 143 crew on Zaandam (0 on Rotterdam) have presented with influenza-like symptoms.
There are 808 guests and 583 crew on Rotterdam. On Zaandam there are 442 guests and 603 crew. Among the guests, 311 guests are American citizens and 52 are residents of Florida.
Due to global health concerns, Holland America Line made the decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days and end its current cruises in progress as quickly as possible. At the time, Zaandam was sailing a South America cruise that began in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 that was originally scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. Attempts were made and denied to disembark guests in Chile on March 15 and at other ports along its route to the United States.
On March 21, Zaandam was originally scheduled to begin a 20-day South America and Panama Canal cruise from San Antonio, Chile, and end in Fort Lauderdale on April 7.
On March 30 an additional 30-day extension of cruise cancellations was announced, including departures through May 14.