The company said in a statement that “four older guests have passed away on Zaandam,” but did not specify whether they died of COVID-19. “No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile.”
Holland America’s Zaandam cruise ship was on a 14 day cruise leaving Buenos Aires on March 7th and supposed to end in San Antonio, Chili on March 21. During this time Holland America, along with all major cruise lines, suspended there fleets operations because of the virus.
While trying to get their guests home all ports along the way closed down. The Zaandam is trying to make her way to Ft. Lauderdale but is stuck outside of Panama unsure if they will be able to traverse the canal because panama has closed itself off.
During this time guests and crew on board became sick. Holland America released a statement March 24th saying.
Thirty guests (2.4%) and 47 crew (8%) have now reported to Zaandam’s medical center with influenza-like illness symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution and immediately after noting the early signs of elevated numbers of illness, all guests were asked to remain in their staterooms on March 22. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board.
Zaandam is following response protocols that have been developed in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not currently available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time.
Since all ports along Zaandam’s route are closed to cruise ships, Holland America Line has deployed Rotterdam to rendevous with Zaandam and provide extra supplies, staff, COVID-19 test kits and other support as needed. Carrying 611 crew and no guests, Rotterdam departed Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at 3 p.m. local time on March 22 and the current schedule is for the two ships to meet by the evening of March 26 off the coast of Panama.
The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is one of our highest priorities. The ship has activated these precautionary measures out of an abundance of caution:
- As is our standard practice, all ill persons have been isolated and their close contacts placed in quarantine.
- Guests have been asked to remain in their staterooms and monitor their health. If they become symptomatic, they are asked to call the medical center for an evaluation and care from the ship’s medical professionals (at no charge).
- Meal service is being provided by room service until further notice. All public areas are closed.
- The entire ship is operating at maximum sanitation levels, including rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of public and crew areas.
- Crew who are not required for the safe operation of the ship are being quarantined. Those that are needed to maintain the ship’s operation are being asked to self-isolate when not performing essential functions, practice social distancing, self-monitor and report any illness to the Medical Center.
- Both internet and guest stateroom telephone services remain complimentary so that guests may stay in touch with their families.
Zaandam provisioned in Valparaiso, Chile, March 20-21 and has plenty of food and fuel for the voyage to the U.S. Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however plans are still being finalized. Alternative options also are being developed. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the guests and crew on board and wish them a speedy return.