FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (FOX19) - A cruise disrupted by the coronavirus left hundreds stranded at sea after several ports refused to allow the Holland America ships to dock. Now at last the voyage is coming to an end.
Passengers aboard the Zaandam and Rotterdam couldn’t contain their excitement as their ships docked in Florida’s Port of Everglades on Thursday.
“When we finally pulled into port, I did a little video and said, ‘Look, look! We see land!'” Andrea Anderson said.
Andrea and her husband, Rob, are from Maineville, Ohio.
The couple boarded the Zaandam on March 7 hoping to enjoy a 31-day cruise through South America. However, just one week into the trip the itinerary quickly changed when nine passengers tested positive for COVID-19 and four people on board died.
“One night I did hear the medical emergency call and I said a prayer and hoped it wasn’t serious, and unfortunately that was somebody dying,” Andrea said.
The couple says at one time more than 200 guests and crew had flu-like symptoms, so all the passengers were confined to their room. Those who didn’t show any flu-like symptoms were moved to the Rotterdam ship.
“We do know of at least two passengers who have been in dire need of high-end medical care for well over a week, and they have been unable to do anything to get them evacuated,” Rob said.
The Andersons say they feel fortunate that they didn’t get seriously ill, but it was tough being confined to their room for the past 19 days.
“TV selections are not great, and we get bored easily. I started making paper airplanes to see if I could hit the door from the bed. That’s been my big accomplishment. It gives me an activity to do, because then you have to get up and go get the paper airplane,” said Andrea.
Although the Zaandam has docked, Andrea and Rob are still not sure when they will be able to go home. They have to meet with immigration and pass a health check before they are cleared to leave the ship.
According to Broward officials, healthy passengers will be allowed to go home while the sick remain on board for treatment.
The Andersons say they know what they’ll do first once they get back home.
“I’m going to drink a big glass of cold milk. I haven’t had milk in a week and a half,” Andrea said.
“My big goal is to walk more than 10 feet at a time,” Rob said laughing.
They also say after nearly 44 years of marriage they plan sleep in different rooms for a while just to get a bit of space.
But even after this experience, they say they are looking forward to their next cruise hopefully next year.