Cruise ship with coronavirus patients on board allowed to dock in Florida

A cruise ship which has been floating at sea carrying passengers with suspected coronavirus after it was turned away from South American ports has finally been given permission to dock in Florida.

The Zaandam and sister ship the Rotterdam, which was sent to help it, were given the green light to disembark people at Port Everglades after days of negotiation with local officials.

Passengers have not been able to step on dry land for almost three weeks.

The Zaandam cruise ship is anchored after it arrived to the bay of Panama City
Image:The Zaandam cruise ship has now been allowed to dock in Florida

Four elderly people died on the Zaandam – including a British man – and at least two from COVID-19 – according to William Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corp., which owns the ships.

Earlier this week, he said nine people had tested positive for the virus.

There are 442 guests and 603 crew on the Zaandam, and 808 guests and 583 crew on the Rotterdam.

An elderly British couple aboard the Zaandam previously issued a desperate plea to the United States to allow the vessel to dock.

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Tony and Jennie Wills from Earls Barton in Northamptonshire, spoke out after the state governor signalled he did not want the vessel’s passengers and crew dumped on his doorstep.

“This is a real humanitarian crisis and we appeal, we pray, we implore America, all the governments around the world, please America, please let us land somewhere,” Mrs Wills, 74, said in a video message shared with Sky News.

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Elderly couple locked down on cruise

“Please, please, we just so all want to come home. This is on behalf of absolutely everybody on board the two ships.”

Her husband, 80, had previously said information from the captain and the cruise operator, Holland America Line, had been poor.

He added: “We are obviously realising there is a hell of a lot more illness on this boat than we ever realised and we are getting very, very worried. We need to get off.”

Jenni and Tony Wills aboard the Zaandam
Image:Jenni and Tony Wills aboard the Zaandam

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Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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