Cruise ship hell: 4 dead and over 130 sick & stuck off coast of Panama

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During these crazy times, there have been a number of cruise ship horror stories out there. And there is yet another fiasco taking place off the shores of South America.

The Holland America cruise ship Zaandam was set for a 14 day cruise from South America but plans got derailed when people started getting sick and ports along the South American coast began closing due to the outbreak.

This left the cruise ship with nowhere to go and with a lot of sick people on board.

In fact, four elderly individuals have died and two have tested positive for the coronavirus.

And things could potentially be much worse.

Over 50 guests and over 80 crew members have reported flu-like symptoms. (The ship has 1,243 passengers and 586 crew.)

All passengers have been required to remain isolated in their cabins since the first passenger reported feeling ill on March 22 and they have been issued masks to wear. 

The ship is trying to get access through the Panama Canal in order to get to Fort Lauderdale but they have been denied access so now they are essentially stuck about 10 miles south of Panama City according to Cruise Mapper.

A sister ship, the Rotterdam, has headed over to deliver medical supplies and to onboard healthy individuals. They are said to be prioritizing those 70 or older who are healthy. They will be able to administer COVID-19 tests, so I’m assuming a negative test result will be required for passengers to transfer over to the new vessel though I’m not sure. They might just base it on symptoms.

Once the healthy passengers are on board to the new ship, they will be forced to remain in their cabins for at least seven days which is the time it would take to arrive in the US. The Rotterdam will then seek permission to transit the Panama Canal en route to Fort Lauderdale, but it is still not even clear that they will be allowed to dock in Fort Lauderdale.

As far as the Zaandam is concerned, It will sail along the Pacific coast to San Diego with the hopes of docking at a US naval base.

If other cruises have showed us anything, it’s that these passengers can expect to go through a quarantine process whenever they arrive, especially if they are arriving in a hotspot like California. So whenever everything is said and done, these passengers will have likely been isolated for 4 to 5 weeks. I’ve heard that they also might fumigate passengers as well.

That is a long time and why I have been saying to avoid cruises until things get substantially better. Out of any form of travel, cruises would be my last preference until things calm down and we have better treatments and potentially vaccines. 


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  1. Why the hell are people still going on cruises? All ships should be banned until further notice. People are not taking this seriously

    1. Yeah this one departed Punta Arenas on March 14. People had plenty of time to realize how severe this was by then.

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