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Broward County reaches deal to allow Holland America cruise ships with sick passengers to dock

Holland America says 52 Florida residents on board
Cruise ship with sick passengers approaches Florida, waiting for clearance
Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 02, 2020

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Sources tell NBC News that Broward County has reached an agreement with Holland America Line to allow two cruise ships with sick passengers on board to dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

In a blog post, Holland America Line said:

"We remain fully engaged with the Broward Unified Command and other governmental and embassy authorities to resolve this humanitarian situation and get the nearly 1,200 well guests home immediately who are fit for travel per guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

The Zaandam and Rotterdam are currently off the coast of South Florida on Thursday, awaiting clearance to enter the port.

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According to the daily ship schedule at Port Everglades, the Zaandam is scheduled to dock around 1 p.m., and the Rotterdam will dock around 1:30 p.m.

The company said guests who are fit for travel per the CDC would transfer straight from the ships to flights for travel home, with the majority of passengers being on charter flights.

Out of an abundance of caution, those guests will be transported in coaches that will be sanitized, with limited person-to-person contact and while wearing masks.

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Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have self-isolated in their staterooms since March 22.

Holland America Line said about 45 guests who still have mild illness and are unfit to travel at this time will continue to isolate on board until recovered.

The cruise line said less than 10 people need immediate critical care shoreside, and the company has secured approval from a local health system partner to treat those passengers. That small number is the only group that will require any support from medical resources in Broward County.

Since March 22, 97 guests (83 on Zaandam and 14 on Rotterdam) and 136 crew members on Zaandam have presented with influenza-like symptoms.

There are 808 guests and 583 crew members on the Rotterdam. On the Zaandam, there are 442 guests and 603 crew members.


There are 52 residents of Florida on board the ships, according to Holland America Line. There are also four children under the age of 12 on board.

At least two people have died on the ships because of the coronavirus and nine have tested positive.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this week he was concerned the sick passengers would overwhelm Florida's hospital system.

The governor later said Florida residents would be accepted at Port Everglades.

Broward County currently has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state with 1,348. 134 people have been hospitalized because of the virus in the county, and 13 have died.