Cruise ships cleared to dock in Florida after onboard corona outbreak

Photo: Holland America Line
Photo: Holland America Line

Two cruise ships operated by the Holland America Line, and which have coronavirus on board, have been allowed to moor in the port of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, the company said on Thursday evening.

A Dutch tourist is one of four people to have died on board the MS Zaandam where dozens of passengers have been infected with coronavirus. Some 20 Dutch passengers are on board the two ships.

The MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam have been allowed to dock so that passengers can be screened for coronavirus and then repatriated. Those who do not have US nationality will then be taken to an airport to await transportation home.

‘Guests who still have symptoms will remain on board and disembark at a later date,’ HAL said in a statement. ‘They will continue to be well cared for on board by the ships’ medical staff.’ It is unclear if this includes any of the Dutch passengers.

Holland America Line had accused governments of ‘turning their backs’ on the stricken vessel by refusing permission for it to dock. Several South American countries closed their ports to the Zaandam, which was due to dock in Chile on March 21. It set sail from the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on March 7.

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis told Fox News earlier he would not allow ‘foreigners’ to be ‘dumped’ in his state, but changed his mind after US president Donald Trump apparently intervened.

The ships were carrying 1,243 passengers, many of them elderly, and 1,247 crew.

HAL was a Dutch company until 1989 when it was bought by US company Carnival Corporation. Most of its ships, including the Zaandam and the Rotterdam sail under the Dutch flag.

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