HAL continues to struggle with debarkation of passengers

Holland America Line’s cruise ships Maasdam and Zaandam still have their passengers on board. The Maasdam was refused permission to disembark passengers in Hawaii due to corona measures. The same is true for the Zaandam in Chile. The latter is also suspected of having infected passengers on board.

The cruise ship company could report the Amsterdam is in the process of disembarking its passengers in Australia. The ship is alongside at Fremantle, where disembarkation began March 21, local time. 206 guests are remaining on board for disembarkation on March 23, at which point all guests will be on their way home.

Maasdam not allowed to dock in Hawaii

The Maasdam arrived in Honolulu on 20 March. Holland America Line (HAL) initially reported the passengers were to fly home from there. However, the local authorities did not allow passengers to disembark because of the coronavirus. According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, no one on the ship was infected.

On Friday evening the ship then left Hawaii and is now en route to San Diego, California, with a planned arrival on March 27 for guest debarkation. Maasdam took on fuel and provisions at Honolulu prior to departure.

Possibly infected passengers and crew on Zaandam

On Sunday 22 March, HAL reported 13 guests and 29 crew reported to the ship’s medical center with influenza-like symptoms. All guests were subsequently asked to remain in their staterooms until there is more information. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board.

Zaandam is following the 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 available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time.

The ship has activated precautionary measures out of an abundance of caution, such as isolating ill persons and placing their close contacts in quarantine. Guests need to stay in their cabins and receive their meals through room service. All public areas are closed and the ship is operating at maximum sanitation levels. Crew who are not required for the safe operation of the ship are being quarantined. Other crew are asked to self-isolate when not performing essential functions.

From Chile to Florida

Zaandam was sailing a South America voyage that departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. However, due to global health concerns, HAL decided to suspend its global cruise operations for thirty days and end its current cruises in progress as quickly as possible and return guests home.

Despite previous confirmations that guests could disembark in Punta Arenas, Chile, for flights, the company was not permitted to do so. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas.

Zaandam then sailed to Valparaiso, Chile, where it remained at anchor March 20-21 while taking on provisions and fuel, including regular medications for those that needed them. Zaandam departed Valparaiso on March 21 and is currently sailing north. HAL intends to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however the company is still working on securing a reservation to transit the Panama Canal. Alternative options are also being developed.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.