I have mentioned it before in my blog, it seems that the company every time does something as soon as I have uploaded my blog for the day. Yesterday was no different. Barely was the world appraised of the fact that we were still happily alongside in Puerto Vallarta for the for-seeable future and we were gone. The Captain received notice that help was needed for one of our ships, medical help, and thus Rotterdam, Oosterdam and Eurodam went to battle stations. Medical crew and supplies were to be gathered and then the Rotterdam being the fastest ship in the fleet was assigned to carry out this humanitarian mission.
This sounds simpler than it is. Before you can race away from a port and do something with a ship for what the crew is not signed on to do, The Captain has to hold an official Ship’s Council. Thus the Officers and Crew of the ms Rotterdam were gathered in the World Stage and the captain briefly explained, what was asked of us. His question: Are you with me in this? …..was answered with a re-sounding yes and then the Rotterdam raced out of port.
For those of you who are tracking the fleet on the Internet will have seen that the Oosterdam had raised anchor at Cabo San Lucas and sailed towards the ms Eurodam which was coming down the coast on its way to Puerto Vallarta. Oosterdam transferred medical staff and supporting supplies to the Eurodam. That ship then sailed onwards to meet with the ms Rotterdam. We did so in the early morning hours and all what was transferred from the Oosterdam, together with a medical team of the Eurodam, joined us then. Then we were on our way and eventually we will meet up with the Zaandam somewhere, wherever the two ships which are both running at full speed, can meet. We are going south, the Zaandam is coming north.
While the Medical Authorities are evaluating the situation , the company is treating it with the utmost urgency. The directly available resources of the company are being forwarded now, while it is being determined whatever it is that the ship is dealing with at the moment.
I have listed the official company Press Release as published yesterday on the Hal Blog, at the end of today’s story.
A few days ago I described the thank you by the crew to all the Health Workers in the world, it has now been posted by the company on their –open- Facebook page so it can be seen by all: https://www.facebook.com/HALCruises/videos/1116464498692294/
Please give it a “like” as the crew is very focused and proud on doing what it can do to help.
March 22, 2 p.m PT/5 p.m ET): This morning aboard Zaandam, 13 guests and 29 crew reported to the ship’s medical center with influenza-like symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution, we have now asked all guests to remain in their staterooms until we have more information. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board.
Zaandam is following the response protocols that have been developed in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since it is flu season, and COVID-19 testing is not available on board, it is difficult to determine the cause of these elevated cases at this time.
The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is one of our highest priorities. The ship has activated these precautionary measures out of an abundance of caution:
- As is our standard practice, all ill persons have been isolated and their close contacts placed in quarantine.
- Guests have been asked to remain in their staterooms and monitor their health. If they become symptomatic, they are asked to call the medical center for an evaluation and care from the ship’s medical professionals (at no charge).
- Effective today, meal service will be provided by room service until further notice. All public areas are closed.
- The entire ship is operating at maximum sanitation levels, including rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of public and crew areas.
- Crew who are not required for the safe operation of the ship are being quarantined. Those that are needed to maintain the ship’s operation are being asked to self-isolate when not performing essential functions, practice social distancing, self-monitor and report any illness to the Medical Center.
- Both internet and guest stateroom telephone services remain complimentary so that guests may stay in touch with their families.
Zaandam was sailing a South America voyage that departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. However, due to global health concerns, Holland America Line made the decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days and end its current cruises in progress as quickly as possible and return guests home. Despite previous confirmations that guests could disembark in Punta Arenas, Chile, for flights, we were not permitted to do so. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas.
Zaandam then sailed to Valparaiso, Chile, where it remained at anchor March 20-21 while taking on provisions and fuel, including regular medications for those that needed them. Zaandam departed Valparaiso on March 21 and is currently sailing north. Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however we are still working on securing a reservation to transit the Panama Canal. Alternative options are also being developed.