Holland America Line’s Zaandam and Rotterdam arrived at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades on Thursday, with the disembarkation of healthy passengers expected to be completed by Friday evening. 

There are 808 passengers and 583 crew on the Rotterdam and 442 passengers and 603 crew on the Zaandam, both which had been waiting offshore Thursday while Broward County and the port approved the ships’ arrival plan. 

The cruise line said that upon docking, nearly 1,200 guests on the two ships who are “fit for travel,” as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, will be health-screened and cleared for entry before transferring straight from the ship to flights for onward travel home, the majority on charters. Port Everglades said charter flights have been arranged to Toronto, Atlanta, San Francisco, Paris and London. 

Local Florida residents will return home immediately via private car. Guests have not left the ship since March 14 and have self-isolated in their staterooms since March 22, Holland America said.  

Port Everglades said that the screening will include taking passengers’ temperatures and that they will then be instructed to wear a facemask until arrival at their final destination and to immediately go into 14 days of self-isolation. All passenger luggage will be sprayed with disinfectant before being offloaded and again in the terminal. 

Holland America said less than ten people onboard need immediate critical care shoreside and have been accepted for treatment by local health facilities. The approximately 45 guests with mild illness will continue to isolate onboard until they have recovered, and their disembarkation is to be determined as per CDC guidelines for being fit to travel. Holland America said they will be cared for onboard by the ships’ medical staff.

The line said that 97 guests (83 on Zaandam, 14 on Rotterdam) and 136 crew on Zaandam have presented with influenza-like symptoms. 

No crew from either ship will disembark in Fort Lauderdale.

“These travelers could have been any one of us or our families, unexpectedly caught in the middle of this unprecedented closure of global borders that happened in a matter of days and without warning,” said Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford in a statement. “We are so happy to be able to get our guests home and assist those few who need additional medical services. The Covid-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our shared humanity, and we must do everything we can to ensure we continue to act in ways consistent with our common human dignity.”

Ashford earlier this week issued a plea for “compassion” for the passengers on the two ships when Broward County did not immediately approve its arrival. 

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