A Nanaimo couple, stranded by COVID-19 aboard the Holland America Line cruise ship Zaandam, are hoping to escape an outbreak of illness on the ship that has claimed four lives and sickened more than 100 passengers and crew. (Photo submitted)

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

A cruise ship that was sickness-free just days ago is now reporting multiple deaths and dozens of potential cases of COVID-19, and people from Nanaimo are still stranded on board.

Holland America Line confirmed in an media advisory Friday, March 27, that of the 1,243 guests and 586 crew currently aboard the Zaandam, currently at anchor off the coast of Panama, 53 passengers and 85 crew have reported to the ship’s medical centre with flu-like symptoms.

Maggie Tilley and her husband David Andrews, who started on their cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7, have been unable to disembark since countries in South America started closing their borders mid-month.

“Sad news. Four people on board passed away yesterday and overnight,” Tilley said in an e-mail Friday. “Testing has started and [there are] COVID-19 positive test results. I am still feeling fine.”

Holland America Line has arranged for the Zaandam to rendezvous with its sister ship Rotterdam to transfer some passengers and medical staff between the two ships and reported it received approval from Panamanian authorities for ship-to-ship operations. Medical supplies and medical staff have been transferred to the Zaandam.

“Today we announced a plan to transfer groups of healthy Zaandam guests to Rotterdam, with strict protocols for this process developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the press release noted.

But only those passengers who have not been ill will be moved, health screenings will be conducted before transferring and priority for the first guests to transfer will be given to those on the Zaandam with inside staterooms and who are over 70.

“I am worried because David has a stupid cough that he hasn’t been able to shake for months,” Tilley said. “Fingers crossed we get moved.”

She went on to say the voyage has “become a nightmare.”

“It is hard to eat the food because it has gone down in quality and I feel it may be contaminated,” Tilley said. “My guess is that the kitchen staff has been hit hard. A lot more crew are sick than guests. A couple of days ago we heard 86 crew and 40-odd guests, but it is climbing fast.”

Passengers started coming to the ship’s medical centre with flu-like symptoms Saturday. As of Thursday, two passengers had tested positive for COVID-19, Holland America confirmed.

“When Zaandam first saw a number of guests reporting to the medical center with influenza-like illness symptoms, we took immediate protective measures, including asking all guests to self-isolate in their staterooms and implementing all other appropriate precautions that have been developed in coordination with the CDC. All guests and crew received face masks yesterday and were provided with instructions on when and how to wear them,” the company said in its press release.

Holland America confirmed the deaths of “four older guests” aboard the Zaandam.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and we are doing everything we can to support them during this difficult time,” the statement noted.

READ ALSO: Canada will ban cruise ships with over 500 people from docking until July

The cruise is offering counselling services to passengers and crew and contact information for people with family aboard.

“While the onward plan for both ships is still being finalized, we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities on approval to transit the Panama Canal for sailing to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,” the release noted.

Anyone wishing to obtain information about family members aboard the Zandaam is asked to call 1-877-425-2231 or 1-206-626-7398.

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bernard Avenue will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s main drag will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with animal cruelty

The 20-year-old Kelowna resident remains in custody

Proposed wine centre in historic downtown Kelowna building moved to public hearing

The public will get an opportunity to give input on the proposed 625-person capacity wine centre

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Most Read