Quarantined Holland America Cruise Ship With Sick Passengers on Board Waiting for Coronavirus Tests at Sea

Thousands of people stuck on a Holland America Line cruise ship on Wednesday will get some relief when a ship from the same cruise line delivers supplies and support.

Passengers on the Zaandam ship, which is currently sailing back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., have been quarantined in their rooms after 30 passengers and 47 crew reported flu-like symptoms. In total, there are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on the ship.

“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,” Holland America said in a statement. “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.”

In what as become a common plight for those still on ships amid the coronavirus pandemic, meals on the Zaandam are being served in passengers’ rooms and all public areas have closed. The ship intends to be back in the U.S. on March 30 after the second Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, meets it at sea to provide COVID-19 test kits and extra supplies on March 26.

The Rotterdam, which has has 611 crew on board and no guests, left Puerto Vallarta in Mexico on March 22 and is expected to meet the Zaandam off the coast of Panama.

On March 13, Holland America announced it was suspending its cruises, but eight ships — including the Zaandam, which was originally scheduled to dock on March 21 in San Antonio, Chile — were still out at sea.

The quarantined ship — that previously received supplies on March 20 and 21 in Valparaiso, Chile — had set sail on March 7 from Buenos Aires with the intention of traveling through South America. No one has been off the ship since March 14 when it stopped in Punta Arenas, Chile, according to Holland America.

While many cruise lines have temporarily cancelled itineraries, the Zaandam is not the only ship to get stuck out in the ocean. Earlier this week, more than 100 American passengers who were stranded on a Silversea Cruises ship in Brazil were flown back to the U.S. At least one of those passengers was diagnosed with coronavirus.

And last week, passengers on a stranded British ship, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ the Braemar, were flown home to the U.K. after several of them were diagnosed with the coronavirus.

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