The weeks long ordeal for passengers and crew on board Holland America Line Zaandam and Rotterdam is finally over. The ship docked in Fort Lauderdale, FL today after numerous countries turned down their request to port due to positive cases of COVID 19 confirmed onboard. The ships are just two of many across the industry dealing with the outbreak of the virus who have encountered resistance from foreign nations.
Florida Hesitant to Offer Assistance
Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was hesitant to allow the ships to dock at Port Everglades, citing the lack of medical resources and capability to treat those on board following disembarkation.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, DeSantis said “As many of you know, there’s some cruise ships that people are monitoring, bearing on to southern Florida. “I obviously am not in control of the port that is run by the counties, in this case, Broward County, and I know they’re in consultation with the cruise ships. Clearly we’re going to be willing to accept any Floridians that are on board. My understanding is that most of the passengers are foreign nationals. I think that they’re working on ways to deal with that.”
A deal was reached Thursday to bring the ships into port between the cruise line, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, Florida health officials and Broward County officials.
Getting Passengers Home Safely
Once disembarkation begins, there are going to be strict protocols in place to ensure passengers get home safely. Those experiencing symptoms will be brought to local medical facilities while residents of South Florida were permitted to go home. The rest who are healthy will be shuttled to the airport for flights home. They will be driven directly onto the tarmac for charter flights provided by Holland America Line. All passengers will be encouraged to self quarantine for 14 days once arriving home.
Coral Princess, which is operated by Princess Cruises, is also seeking to dock at Port Everglades due to sick passengers. The illness on board has not been confirmed to be COVID 19.