Authorities in Panama have given
Holland America Line’s Zaandam permission to transit through the Panama Canal
on its way to Fort Lauderdale.
Four passengers on the ship have died, Holland America Line
said on Friday, and at least 53 guests and 85 crew members have reported to the
Zaandam’s medical center with influenza-like symptoms. At least two have tested
positive for Covid-19.
The Panama Canal Authority said on Saturday night that it
was supporting efforts for an “expedited return home” for the passengers and
crew members on the Zaandam. No one on the Zaandam has left the ship since
March 14. The South America voyage began on March 7 with a departure from
The ship on Saturday was anchored outside Panama Canal
waters. The Panama Maritime Authority had previously approved an operation enabling
healthy passengers to transfer to the Rotterdam.
No passengers nor crew members will be allowed to disembark in
“The Panama Canal is preparing to facilitate the transit of
the Zaandam through the waterway, after receiving authorization from Panama’s
Ministry of Health,” the canal authority said in a statement.
Allowing the Zaandam through the canal will shave two days
off its journey to Fort Lauderdale, the authority said. However, there is no
concrete plan for the ship to disembark in Fort Lauderdale. The Rotterdam’s
final destination has not been revealed but that ship also has received permission to transit the Panama Canal.
Zaandam guests are quarantined in their staterooms and have
been given face masks to wear.
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