Cruise Ship With 42 Passengers Reporting Flu-Like Symptoms Headed to Florida

March 24, 2020 Updated: March 24, 2020
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A cruise ship with dozens of people showing flu-like symptoms is heading to Florida, its operator said.

A total of 42 passengers and crew members on Holland America’s Zaandam reported influenza-like symptoms, the cruise ship company said in a statement. All guests have been asked to stay in their cabins until more information is discovered about the cases.

“Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time,” Holland America said.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the new virus from China, which The Epoch Times refers to as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Everyone who reported feeling sick has been isolated and their close contacts have been quarantined. Other passengers were told to report to the ship’s medical center if they develop symptoms. Crew members who aren’t required for the safe operation of the ship are being quarantined.

Zaandam, which is carrying 1,243 passengers and has 586 crew members, departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7. The ship was originally supposed to end the trip in Chile on March 21. Company officials were told that passengers could get off in Punta Arenas, Chile, to board flights to their home countries, but passengers weren’t allowed to disembark when the ship arrived.

Zaandam sailed to Valparaíso, another city in Chile, and remained out of port while taking on provisions and fuel on March 20 and March 21 before departing and sailing north.

“Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however we are still working on securing a reservation to transit the Panama Canal. Alternative options are also being developed,” Holland America said.

An answering machine at Holland America said its office was closed.

Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is currently open and operational, according to its website. A “unified command” had been put into place and cruise ships entering the port require concurrent approvals from a number of agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Port Everglades spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the command would make the final decision on whether the Zaandam enters the port.

“The ship is still pretty far away, so it is too early to determine,” she said.

Most cruise lines have halted ships slated to depart from or arrive in the United States but some two dozen that were already out at sea at that time still haven’t docked.

The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship is in lock down while health authorities test a man for Coronavirus in Sydney,
The Norwegian Jewel cruise ship is in lock down while health authorities test a man for COVID-19 in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 14, 2020. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Ship Docks in Hawaii

Another ship that was out at sea, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel, arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday. The ship was one of two initially blocked by authorities in the state.

Passengers disembarked Monday and boarded chartered flights home. The approximately 1,000 crew members will remain on board.

There were no confirmed or even suspected cases of COVID-19 on board, the cruise line said.

Harry Sommer, CEO of Norwegian, thanked Hawaiian officials for letting the passengers disembark.

“The spirit of Aloha is alive and well. We have been sailing the Hawaiian Islands for over 15 years, drawing well over 100,000 travelers to the state each year. We look forward to returning and to continuing to celebrate the culture, history and people of Hawaii,” he said.

The Norwegian Jewel was the last vessel in the company’s fleet with guests aboard at sea.

“All ships will soon be berthed in ports around the world until the temporary sailing suspension is lifted,” the company said.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber