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'Bitter and disappointed': Canadians on coronavirus cruise ship face further anxious wait to dock
TORONTO -- Canadians onboard a cruise ship where four people have died and nine people have tested positive for coronavirus face a further anxious wait at sea.
Two of the four deaths on board the Zaandam, which is now in the Gulf of Mexico, have been blamed on COVID-19, the cruise company said.
Bob Rorison and his wife Marilyn, from Surrey, B.C, joined the South American cruise on March 7, to celebrate Bob’s 70th birthday.
The vessel has been denied docking at multiple South American ports and the cruise company, Holland America, is now appealing to authorities to let the ship dock in Florida.
“We’re going to be on the ship until there’s a guarantee that we can get off, get on a plane and get out of town,” Bob told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday.
“We’re resigned to the fact that maybe we’ll sit outside Fort Lauderdale for days, there’s a possibility they might have to go to another port.
“We’re just resigned and bitter and disappointed. It’s not fair the way we’re being treated. The world community has turned their backs on us.”
The Zaandam has transferred nearly 1,400 people to sister ship the Rotterdam, which is also trying to dock in Florida, leaving 450 guests and 602 crew members on the Zaandam, Holland America said.
There were around 250 Canadian passengers on the Zaandam, Bob said.
Asked if he had received any contact from the Canadian government, he said “we haven’t heard from anybody.”
Frustrated passengers are now waiting to see if they can dock in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday amid a dispute between the state governor over whether Florida’s stretched healthcare system can take on the extra caseload from the Zaandam as it battles to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Just to drop people off at the place where we're having the highest number of cases right now just doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
The U.S. Coast Guard has directed all cruise ships to remain at sea where they may be sequestered "indefinitely" during the coronavirus pandemic and be prepared to send any severely ill passengers to the countries where the vessels are registered.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would speak to fellow Republican DeSantis about the ships.
- With files from CTV Vancouver’s Michele Brunoro and The Associated Press