HAL sends cruise ship Rotterdam to supply the Zaandam

30 guests and 47 crew have now reported to cruise ship Zaandam’s medical center with influenza-like symptoms. Since all ports along Zaandam’s route are closed to cruise ships, Holland America Line has deployed the Rotterdam to provide supplies including COVID-19 test kits.

Carrying 611 crew and no guests, cruise ship Rotterdam departed from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and is to meet the Zaandam by the evening of March 26 off the coast of Panama. The ship will provide extra staff, coronavirus test kits and other support as needed.

Measures taken on board

As soon as the first people came forward on Sunday 22 March, measures were implemented on board. These include 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.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

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.

The company now intends to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however plans are still being finalised. The ship has plenty of food and fuel for this voyage. HAL states alternative options also are being developed.

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Author: Mariska Buitendijk

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