Panama’s Ministry of Health has given Holland America Line (HAL) permission for the ’Zaandam’ and ‘Rotterdam’ to transit the Panama Canal.
Last Friday, it was reported that four elderly passengers on the ‘Zaandam’ had died of coronavirus; 138 more reported flu-like symptoms associated with the virus. Of several passengers who were tested, two tested positive for COVID-19.
“We are aware of reported permission for both ‘Zaandam’ and ’Rotterdam’ to transit the Panama Canal in the near future. We greatly appreciate this consideration in the humanitarian interest of our guests and crew,” HAL said in a statement issued late Saturday night. “This remains a dynamic situation, and we continue to work with the Panamanian authorities to finalise details.”
In another statement, the Panama Canal Authority confirmed it was preparing to facilitate the transit of the ‘Zaandam’ through the canal, after receiving authorisation from Panama’s Ministry of Health.
‘Zaandam’ was originally scheduled to transit the canal on 1st April on her way back to Fort Lauderdale.
On Friday afternoon, nearly 100 healthy passengers were transferred from ’Zaandam’ to ‘Rotterdam’ in a move to expedite the canal transit.
By transferring the healthy passengers transferred to the Rotterdam, they would have been more likely to obtain permission to transit the Panama Canal and continue their journey back to the U.S.
‘Zaandam’ began her South American cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 7th March, which was originally scheduled to end at San Antonio, Chile on 21st March.
Nobody has been allowed off the ship since 14th March when she was in Punta Arenas, Chile.