By: Sharon Aron Baron
A ship carrying 77 people showing influenza-like illness symptoms would like to dock at Port Everglades. However, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine doesn’t want it here.
“I put forward a motion that states we do not allow this ship to dock until proper testing has been completed, and we know with certainty that there is no threat to our community,” he said.
In a statement by Holland America, there are 1,243 guests and 586 crew. Of those, 30 guests and 47 crew members are showing symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution and immediately after noting the early signs of elevated numbers of illness, all guests were asked to remain in their staterooms on March 22.
Initially set to dock in Chile, they were denied permission, and now the Zaandam wants to dock in Port Everglades on March 30.
At Tuesday’s emergency meeting Commissioner Udine, who represents Parkland, made the motion seconded by Commissioner Mark Bogen to stop the Zaandam from docking.
Zaandam was sailing on a South America voyage departing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was initially scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. However, due to global health concerns, Holland America Line decided to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days and end its current cruises in progress as quickly as possible and so guests could return home.
Since all ports along Zaandam’s route are closed to cruise ships, Holland America Line has deployed the Rotterdam, which has no guests, to rendevous with the Zaandam and provides extra supplies, staff, COVID-19 test kits, and other support as needed.
“The cruise line should protect its passengers,” said Udine. “Either bring a separate ship at sea to triage the passengers or bring them to one of the ship’s private island with another ship as medical to triage.”
He suggested an alternative plan.
“Have them dock in Miami and bring the passengers to the Miami Arena, which is owned by the cruise line, and triage and quarantine there. Broward is short on supplies and resources for medical providers and our sickest patients, so why should our residents be disadvantaged?”
On Tuesday, County Administrator Bertha Henry and Acting Port Director Glenn Wiltshire were not definitive on stopping the disembarkation but Udine said he would continue to follow up.
The last passenger ship to come into Port Everglades was on March 13.