Holland America Line has confirmed that Broward County and the Unified Command cleared both Zaandam and Rotterdam for arrival to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to disembark guests who are fit to travel per guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“These travellers 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 Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “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.
He added, “Our guests on board both ships have been truly incredible, and we extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to all of them. Their co-operation, support and understanding throughout this entire experience helped us best protect the health of all on board and ensured our shipboard teams could focus on caring for everyone and getting them home.
“I would also like to extend my sincerest thanks to the amazing officers and crews of Zaandam and Rotterdam,” continued Ashford. “They are heroes who rose to the challenge of taking care of our guests and each other under extraordinary circumstances. All of us at Holland America Line are so very proud of our colleagues for their exemplary leadership and service.”
In Port Everglades, guests will be health screened and also cleared for entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Disembarkation is expected to be completed by this evening, with priority given to those who need immediate care at local health system partners who have approved their arrival.
Fit-to-travel guests will transfer straight from ship on to buses for transfer directly to the airport for flights home. The majority will leave on charter flights. 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.
Guests who still have symptoms will remain on board and disembark at a later date to be finalized after they have fully recovered and meet the CDC guidelines for being fit to travel. They will continue to be well cared for on board by the ships’ medical staffs.
No crew from either ship will disembark in Fort Lauderdale.