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Passengers, Crew Fall Ill On Stranded Holland America Ship

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Another cruise ship quarantined passengers “out of an abundance of caution” after 13 guests and 29 crew members developed flu-like symptoms.

Holland America’s Zaandam is the latest ship to find itself being turned away by a port. (Photo via Holland America)

Why Guests Are Still Onboard The Ship

While most cruise ships stopped sailing earlier this month, Holland America’s Zaandam is an exception. The ship had departed Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 7 and was expected to end in San Antonio, Chile on March 21.

When the company joined other lines in suspending operations, it was decided that the Zaandam’s voyage would end as quickly as possible and return guests home.

READ MORE: Holland America Suspends Operations

Although permission had been granted for guests to disembark in Punta Arenas, Chile, so that they could arrange flights home, the ship ultimately was turned away.

Then, Sunday evening brought news of the illness that was spreading on board the ship.

What Is Being Done On Board

(Photo via Holland America Line)

Following the protocols developed in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ship has quarantined and isolated all of the sick passengers and crew members. They have also asked all remaining guests to remain in their staterooms and monitor their health.

Unfortunately, because there are no COVID-19 tests aboard, it is impossible to determine whether those who’ve fallen ill have a simple case of the seasonal flu or coronavirus.

Other precautions being put into place:

  • All meals are being provided by room service.
  • Public areas are closed until further notice.
  • The ship is operating at maximum sanitation levels, including rigorous cleaning and the disinfection of all public and crew areas.
  • Crew who are not required for the safe operation of the ship are being quarantined. Those needed to keep things running are being asked to self-isolate when not performing essential functions, practice social distancing, self-monitor and report any illness to the medical center.
  • Complimentary internet and phone services are being provided so guests can keep in touch with their families.

There are currently 1,243 guests and 586 crew members on board, none of whom have been off the ship since it visited Punta Arenas on March 14.

What Happens Next?

The Zaandam anchored in Valparaiso, Chile on March 20 and 21 so that it could take on provisions and fuel, including medications for those who needed them. The ship then departed and is currently sailing north. According to a statement from Holland America, “Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however, we are still working on securing a reservation to transit the Panama Canal.”

Before the ship can head for Fort Lauderdale, it must first get permission to transit the Panama Canal.

Should that option fall through, the company says, “Alternative options are also being developed.”

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