Holland America Line said that the Zaandam, currently sailing off the west coast of South America, will rendezvous with the Rotterdam ship in two days to get extra supplies, additional staff and Covid-19 test kits.
The Zaandam needs the provisions because people onboard have flu-like symptoms and no ports in South America will allow the ship to disembark.
Holland America said no ports are open to the ship between Chile and Fort Lauderdale. The Florida city’s Port Everglades is now tentatively the Zaandam’s final destination. A March 30 arrival is anticipated, but plans are still being finalized and “alternative options” are being explored. Holland America is trying to get permission to transit the Panama Canal.
No passengers have disembarked the Zaandam since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile. The ship had been sailing a South America voyage that departed Buenos Aires on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21.
Holland America said that 13 passengers and 29 crew on the Zaandam have reported to the ship’s medical centre with influenza-like symptoms. There are 1,243 passengers and 586 crew on board, and all passengers have been instructed to stay in their cabins.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have now asked all guests to remain in their staterooms until we have more information,” the cruise line said. Holland America added that because Covid-19 testing is not available onboard, “it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time.”
Starting March 24, the ship is providing meals by room service until further notice and all public areas are closed.
The Rotterdam has 611 crew and no passengers on board. It departed Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at 3 p.m. local time on March 22. Holland America expects the two ships to meet on March 26 off the coast of Panama.
Port Everglades officials said on Tuesday that they are monitoring the Zaandam’s progress and that Broward County will determine whether to allow the ship to enter the port “as more information is available.” The port said it is consulting with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County and other entities.
Chilean ports Punta Arenas and Valparaiso, as well as ports in Peru, did not allow the ship to disembark. The ship was able to refuel in Valparaiso and take on provisions before sailing north.