President HAL fears more deaths on board cruise ship Zaandam

The President of the Holland America Line (HAL) fears the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus on board the Zaandam will go up if the ship is not allowed to dock in Florida. In the meantime, President Trump has said he will look into the situation.

‘Four people have already died and I’m afraid more lives are in danger,’ writes Orlando Ashford, HAL President, in a local newspaper in the American state. ‘On March 30th, 76 passengers and 117 crew members showed flu-like symptoms. These unfortunate people are involuntarily trapped in a political game.’ At least eight people are infected with the virus.

‘Nations are justifiably focused on the COVID-19 crisis unfolding before them. But they’ve turned their backs on thousands of people left floating at sea,’ Ashford continues. The Zaandam hopes to dock in Florida, so travelers can disembark there to be treated or go home. On Monday 30 March, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, announced that the ship was not allowed to dock.

President Trump to review the situation

American president Donald Trump said on Tuesday evening (local time) in a press conference that he will look into the situation. ‘I’m going to do what’s right, not for us, but for humanity. There are people on the ship who are dying or seriously ill.’ Trump is going to confer with Governor Ron DeSantis on the possible admission of the Zaandam.

People who showed no symptoms of illness have been transferred to the cruise ship Rotterdam, which is also not yet allowed to dock in the US. In total, the ships transport 1243 guests and 1247 crew. There are twenty Dutch people aboard the Zaandam. One of the deceased passengers was also Dutch.

HAL has also announced it has decided to extend its pause of global cruise operations for an additional thirty days, cancelling sailings scheduled to depart through May 14, 2020.

Source: ANP

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Picture by Prayitno.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

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