There’s a glimmer of hope for a St. Simons Island couple aboard the stalled cruise ship the Rotterdam. The vessel, along with its sister Zaandam, have been adrift, waiting for a harbor to accept disembarking passengers.
More than 800 people were shifted from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam last week after an outbreak of COVID-19, which claimed the lives of two passengers and has sickened many others.
Jennifer Broadus, who left for the trip with her husband Bob on March 7, says they passengers have been told they will finally be allowed to disembark in Florida.
“They have asked us to pack our bags keeping a carry-on with two days clothing. This is a good sign. Obviously, the ship is mobilizing to get us off the ship under a very controlled conditions,” she said from the ship Thursday.
“More than likely all of our luggage will be sprayed heavily. That was the case when we migrated to the Rotterdam.”
The ships contain approximately 1,100 passengers who come from 39 countries. Roughly 300 Americans are divided up between the two vessels.
Reports indicate that nine passengers have tested positive with more than 190 people on the Zaandam who have displayed symptoms. Broadus said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was previously resistant to let the ships dock, had finally relented.
“We are docking soon we have just learned. He finally said yes,” she said.
From there, the healthy passengers will be heavily screened, while the sick will be taken to facilities.
“We will disembark (Thursday) afternoon under very controlled conditions...go through customs, and immigration, and also take a fever test for COVID control,” she said.
Healthy passengers will then be returned to the ship for at least two days while the cruise company, Holland America, will make travel arrangements for those on board.
“They are arranging for charter aircraft to take us all out of Florida. For example, jets for over 300 Canadians, another for 120 people from Paris,” she said.
“One for several hundred from the UK, and another for Aussie. We have 39 nationalities represented on board. We were not allowed to make our own flight reservations. We can only travel by prearranged charter plane.”
While the plan is not set in stone, the Broaduses are hopeful that this is the beginning of the end for the ill-fated voyage.
“We are greatly encouraged. However, it’s a very fluid thing ... things change on a dime,” she said.