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At sea on a cruise ship? You may be doomed


A war against the global cruise industry with innocent tourists on board as the target is unfolding not only in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Zaandam is desperately sending MAYDAYS to US authorities not allowed to enter a U.S. harbor. Four dead passengers are already on board the MS Zaandam. Many sick passengers are in urgent need of medical attention.

The MS Zaandam is a cruise ship owned and operated by Holland America Line, named for the city of Zaandam, the Netherlands near Amsterdam. It was built by Fincantieri in Marghera, Italy and delivered in 2000. Zaandam is part of the Rotterdam class and a sister ship to Volendam, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam

This situation is so impossible that one reader from Florida told eTurboNews:  ” For the 1st time ever, I’m ashamed of my State government. I was appalled of DeSantis when he denied entry of the cruise ship. If that was truly his reaction to deny help, how profane his cruel & cowardly behavior. There is always a way to help when tragedy is upon the innocent.   Another reader said: I have ZERO sympathies for anyone that went on a cruise in March – ALL the facts were out there. Like fuxxing ” zero.  

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis doesn’t want the ship to dock in the state. Almost 200 people on the Zaandam have flu-like symptoms, while several have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and four people have died from the disease, according to CBS Miami.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard is directing all cruise ships to remain at sea where they may be sequestered “indefinitely” during the coronavirus pandemic. The Coast Guard also told cruise ship operators to be prepared to send any severely ill passengers to the countries where the vessels are registered.

Cruise ships trying to enter U.S. waters are Carnival’s Costa Magica and Costa Favolosa, which are anchored near the port of Miami and currently working with the Coast Guard to facilitate medical evacuations.

More than a dozen cruise ships remain stranded at sea right now — some with and some without passengers– as ports deny entry and passengers panic about returning home.  

On March 13, in light of mounting fears over onboard COVID-19 outbreaks, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) made the decision to suspend operations from US ports of call for 30 days. 3.6% of all cruise ships, however, are still at sea.

Two weeks later, thousands of passengers and crew members remain aboard at least 15 ships across the world.  

Currently the following cases the Zaandam was sailing a South American voyage that departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally supposed to conclude in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21

Influenza-like symptoms have been reported by 76 guests and 117 crew members. Eight passengers have tested positive for Covid-19.Four guests on board Zaandam have passed away, the cruise line confirmed on Friday.

“I fear other lives are at risk,” Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, said in a statement.

No one has exited the ship since it stopped in Punta Arenas, Chile, on March 14. Guests were originally told they could disembark in Chile for flights, but ultimately this was forbidden.

Once flu-like symptoms cropped up on board, those with symptoms were isolated and their traveling companions quarantined. All guests were asked to remain in their staterooms. The ship stopped in Valparaiso, Chile, and is now off Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

All the ports en route are closed to cruise ships, so Holland America deployed another of its ships, Rotterdam, to offer relief. Rotterdam met Zaandam off Panama in the evening of March 26 to “provide extra supplies, staff, Covid-19 test kits and other support as needed.

“Previously, the ship had no coronavirus test kits on board. Holland America transferred healthy Zaandam guests to Rotterdam.

There are 797 guests and 645 crew on Rotterdam. On Zaandam, there are 446 guests and 602 crew members. The guests who moved from Zaandam to Rotterdam completed a health screening beforehand,

Guests on both ships are remaining in their staterooms until the ship disembarks. On March 29, Holland America confirmed it was granted special approval by the Panama Canal Authority to transit Zaandam and Rotterdam through the Panama Canal.

Zaandam is considering “alternative options” if the plan to disembark in Fort Lauderdale falls through, but the original hope was that the ship would dock there on March 30. Right now it’s still at sea.”We need confirmation from a port that is willing to extend the same compassion and grace that Panama did, and allow us to come in so our guests can go straight to the airport for flights home,” said Ashford, who says the ship tried to disembark passengers earlier in the voyage.

The following ships are currently wondering the seas

Arcadia — P&O Cruises UK

Status: Sailing to Southampton, EnglandCruise ship Arcadia embarked on a 100-day, round trip World Cruise back in January, in a very different cruising landscape.Now, the ship is making its way back to Southampton, in the UK. It’s due to arrive on April 12, 2020, on schedule.The ship is skipping all stops after it was turned away from Cape Town.”As South African authorities are enforcing additional entry and travel restrictions because of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, all guests are remaining on board until Southampton, where Arcadia is due to arrive on Sunday 12 April as per the original itinerary,” said P&O Cruises in a statement.There are no reported cases of Covid-19 on board.

Coral Princess — Princess Cruises

Status: Sailing to Fort Lauderdale, Florida The Coral Princess departed Santiago, Chile, on March 5. Princess Cruises announced operations were halting one week later. Princess Cruises tried to negotiate disembarkation in Brazil for guests onboard the Coral Princess. Anvisa, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency, denied the disembarkation of Coral Princess guests, including those with confirmed outbound flights. The ship is now traveling directly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Coral Princess’s medical center has reported “a higher-than-normal number of people presenting influenza-like symptoms,” according to a statement from the cruise line on March 31.”Many have tested positive for regular influenza, however, given the concern surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus), and out of an abundance of caution, guests have been asked to self-isolate in their staterooms and all meals will now be delivered by room service. The crew will remain in their staterooms when not working,” said the cruise line.

BRITISH guests are urging the British government to send a safe repatriation flight to enable them to get home safely

Princess Cruises said internet and guest stateroom telephone service is currently complimentary, to help guests stay in touch with family members. Princess Cruises had a scheduled service call at Bridgetown, Barbados, on March 31.”During the short time at the port, extra provisions will be brought on board to keep all guests comfortable during the onward journey,” said Princess Cruises in a statement.”No guests or crew will be permitted to disembark during this time.”The ship is expected to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on April 4.

Pacific Princess — Princess Cruises

Sailing to Los Angeles, California The Pacific Princess docked in Australia on Saturday March 21, with the majority of passengers who disembarked on flights March 22 or March 23. Those who couldn’t fly due to medical reasons remained on board the ship, which is now traveling towards Los Angeles. According to former passenger CJ Hayden, some of those on board were previously traveling on Holland America’s Amsterdam, which also docked in Fremantle, Australia, on March 21. Princess Cruises says there are 115 passengers on board and no known cases of Covid-19 .The Pacific Princess is due to arrive in Los Angeles on April 24 It stopped briefly in Melbourne, Australia, to “refuel and replenish provisions,” according to Princess Cruises. The ship is also expected to dock in Honolulu, Hawaii, for an additional service stop.

Queen Mary 2 — Cunard

Sailing to Southampton, England The Queen Mary 2 set off on a 113-day New York to New York voyage on January 3, 2020.”Queen Mary 2’s World Voyage was canceled and the ship is currently en route to Southampton from Australia,” says a Cunard spokesperson. Most guests disembarked in Perth and flew back home from there.”The only guests who remain on board are those who are unable to fly due to medical reasons,” There are 264 guests still on board. There are no known cases of Covid-19 on board.

MSC Magnifica — MSC Cruises

Sailing to Europe MSC Magnifica disembarked on a world voyage on January 4, 2020. The ship’s passengers were not allowed to disembark when the ship docked in Fremantle, Australia, on March 24. MSC Magnifica, currently sailing a world cruise, is en route from Australia to Europe.”

Costa Victoria — Costa Cruises

Berthed in Civitavecchia, Italy The Costa Victoria cruise ship arrived in Civitavecchia, in Italy, on March 25. Earlier in the voyage, a passenger tested positive for coronavirus and was disembarked in Greece. The disembarkation process in Italy is ongoing.

Columbus — Cruise & Maritime Voyages

Sailing to Tilbury, England Last week, two Cruise & Maritime Voyages ships, Columbus and Vasco da Gama, met at sea 12 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket, Thailand, to undertake what the cruise line called “a unique passenger transfer and repatriation operation.”This decision was made to help get passengers on both vessels home as quickly as possible Some 239 passengers were transferred between the ships. British nationals transferred onto the Columbus, which is heading to the UK, while Australians and New Zealanders are now on board the Vasco da Gama. There are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 on either ship. The Columbus is set to arrive in Tilbury on April 13.

Artania — Phoenix

In Western Australia: The Artania cruise ship embarked on an 140-day world cruise from Hamburg, Germany, to Bremerhaven, Germany, on December 21, 2019. The ship has now docked in Western Australia. One passenger, who has since disembarked, tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the journey. A further 36 passengers tested positive for Covid-19 following a check from Australian health officials upon arrival in Fremantle. In a statement, cruise line Phoenix Reisen said these passengers were subsequently disembarked and quarantined in local hospitals. Healthy passengers stayed on board the ship until their repatriation flights, which took place on March 29. The majority of passengers are German. Those from elsewhere in Europe were also taken back to Germany. According to Phoenix Reisen, 16 passengers, plus hundreds of crew members, decided to stay onboard the Artania, and travel back home that way.

Costa Deliziosa

At Sea Costa Deliziosa set sail on an 87-day round world voyage from Venice on January 5, 2020. When Costa Cruises, owned by Carnival, decided to suspend cruises, Costa Deliziosa was the only cruise that wasn’t immediately canceled.”The current world tour itinerary will be completed to allow guests to disembark and return home,” was the cruise line’s official statement. Some passengers disembarked and traveled home when the ship stopped off in Perth on March 16. The ship is due to return to Venice, Italy in April, although the destination could be changed.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.