Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board

holland america Zaandam cruise ship

  • The MS Zaandam, a Holland America cruise ship dealing with an
    outbreak of respiratory illness onboard, will be barred from
    entering the Panama Canal, according to a Panama Canal
    Authority.
  • Four passengers have died aboard the ship, and Holland America
    confirmed that two individuals have tested positive for
    COVID-19.
  • The cruise line also confirmed there are 138 sick passengers
    and crew members on board the Zaandam.
  • Are you a cruise-ship passenger or employee with a story to
    share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Panama Canal Authority will block the MS Zaandam, a Holland
America cruise ship with two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board,
from entering the canal.

“Following protocol of Panama’s Ministry of Health, if a vessel
has individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board, it
cannot make any port operations or transit the Canal,” the Panama
Canal Authority said in a statement sent to Business Insider on
March 27.

The Holland America previously considered having the ship sail
through the Panama Canal in order to head back to Fort Lauderdale
for a March 30 arrival. The Zaandam has been stranded off the coast
of South America and Central America after different ports began
closing to cruise ships due to coronavirus concerns. A bout of
respiratory disease then broke out on the ship, prompting 138 sick
passengers and crew members to report to the vessel’s medical
center.

Holland America
confirmed
that four passengers have died on board, and two
individuals have tested positive for COVID-19.

The cruise on the Zaandam was scheduled to last 14 days,
embarking from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7. For some
passengers, the cruise would end after 14 days in San Antonio,
Chile. For others, it was due to April 7 in Fort Lauderdale. Those
plans were diverted because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the
cruise ship rerouted its course to sail north to an undetermined
destination.

In a statement released on March 27, a Holland America
spokesperson said that the Zaandam had rendezvoused with its sister
ship the MS Rotterdam off the coast of Panama.

“We received approval from Panamanian authorities to conduct
ship-to-ship operations at anchor between the two vessels,” the
spokesperson said in a statement. 

On March 22, the cruise line released a statement saying that
its intention was to have the Zaandam head to Fort Lauderdale,
Florida on March 30, where it was initially supposed to arrive on
April 7. At that time, the Holland America spokesperson said in a
statement that the company was “still working on securing a
reservation to transit the Panama Canal.”

“Alternative options are also being developed,” the spokesperson
said in a statement.

Are you a cruise ship employee or passenger? Email
acain@businessinsider.com.

Read the Panama Canal Authority’s full statement:

Holland America’s ship Zaandam arrived Friday, March 27 to
Panamanian waters. Like all vessels that use the Panama Canal, the
Zaandam had to comply with the regulations on health and prevention
of contagious diseases.
 
Following protocol of Panama’s Ministry of Health, if a vessel has
individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board, it
cannot make any port operations or transit the Canal.
 
All ships transiting the Panama Canal require personnel, including
line handlers, boarding officers, and Panama Canal pilots, to board
the ship throughout the transit in order to ensure a safe passage
throughout the waterway. These protocols are in place to safeguard
our customers and workforce.

SEE ALSO: A
cruise ship with 1,800 people is unable to dock at any local ports.
Now 138 are sick, 4 are dead, and coronavirus cases are being
confirmed on the stranded ship still at sea.


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Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
Panama Canal blocks Holland America cruise ship with 138 ill crew members and passengers, and 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board