By Jill Fox
Passengers thought they were in for the cruise of a lifetime when they boarded their ship on January 4 for a four-month trip around the world.
But as the Coronavirus pandemic brought the travel industry to a halt, guests on Holland America’s Amsterdam had a shift in their itinerary—several days at sea off the coast of Australia.
Aboard the ship, anchored at sea was 85-year-old Addy Adler, mother of Parkland resident, Sharry Kimmel.
While stuck at sea from March 14 to March 24, Kimmel chronicled her mother’s situation, by way of Facebook.
“Holland America Lines is figuring out the process for disembarking and returning home all of the passengers since the cruise is ending two months early,” wrote Kimmel, “This will be very complicated because most of the passengers onboard are elderly,” she added.
Originally scheduled to return to Port Everglades on May 12, the ship remained anchored off of the coast of Australia while Holland America tried to determine how to proceed.
With cruise ports shutting down, one after another, the ship had nowhere to go, so they just stayed at sea.
Kimmel said her mom had a great attitude, but it was a scary situation for her. Although they were still on board a beautiful ship, in great conditions, passengers didn’t know what was going to happen next.
“They were being told food supplies were running low, and no country would accept them,” said Kimmel, “Nobody likes that kind of feeling when you’re so far away from home.”
Still, friends on Facebook were very positive because they know Adler’s strong personality.
Recognized for being a tough businesswoman, and a real estate icon in South Florida, Adler is a survivor. According to her daughter, she beat stage 4 Lymphoma over a decade ago and is known for being fearless.
Described as a world traveler and an avid bridge player, Adler still had health challenges and was not supposed to be traveling by plane — especially with possible exposure to COVID-19.
In the following days, Kimmel learned from Holland America that the ship would be docking in Fremantle, Australia on March 22, even though the country had closed their borders.
Still, Adler needed a way to return to her home in The Villages. Thankfully, Kimmel was able to communicate with her mom the entire time thanks to WhatsApp.
“It was a Godsend,” she said.
With the help of another couple onboard her cruise, Adler was able to secure tickets to fly home. They would travel together on four flights over two days to reach their final destination in Orlando.
Although some of her luggage and her motorized scooter remains onboard the Amsterdam, Adler is home safe.
On March 24, Kimmel posted a final update on Facebook.
“Addy Adler is en route on her way to The Villages now. Whew! Relief relief! Gratitude gratitude gratitude!”
Currently, Kimmel is in Cascata and her mom is in The Villages; each confined to their respective houses. Although mother and daughter are both in Florida, Kimmel said there are no immediate plans for a reunion.
“I’m on lockdown just like she is, and for now, we can’t be exposed to each other.”
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.