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Florida couple stuck on Holland America’s MS Zaandam with 4 dead passengers, 189 sick

For days, Katy Waldrop tried contacting her mom and stepdad, Jim and Colleen Wing, who are stuck on Holland America’s MS Zaandam cruise ship.

“When I finally got a hold of my mom this morning – the first thing when I heard her voice – I went “hi mom” and I lost it,” Waldrop said.

Two people aboard the Zaandam have tested positive for COVID-19, four have died and 189 passengers have reported flu-like symptoms.

Waldrop’s stepdad is alive but struggling. She said “He almost passed out at lunch and developed flu-like symptoms … They were immediately all put on quarantine and confined to their cabins.”

Zaandam departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7, prior to Holland America’s March 17 decision to suspend its global cruise operations for 30 days. The voyage was scheduled to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile, where guests were initially told they could disembark for flights but were not permitted to.

Jim and Colleen Wing.

The ship was at anchor for several days in Valparaiso, Chile, while it took on more provisions and fuel before departing for Fort Lauderdale.

Governor Ron DeSantis said it’s better to send medical care to the ship, and not let it dock, adding, “Yes, we do have available beds, but I don’t want to be in a situation where those beds could have gone to Floridians.”

Andrea Anderson and her husband Rob are aboard the ship.

She says she’d like to ask the governor, “what his decision would be if it was his mother was on this ship.”

“How would he feel if another passenger dies because they’re not able to receive the proper medical care on the ship that they would have received in the hospital?” Anderson asked.

Waldrop says her parents are Floridians, “They pay taxes there and they should be able to come ashore. But it’s more than that. This is a humanitarian issue.”

She says her family is trying to remain hopeful, “It has been emotionally gut-wrenching and torturous to be so helpless.”

Waldrop added that the governor’s announcement crushed their spirits. She said she is communicating with local and state officials and the port authority to see if there’s anything that can be done.

There are currently 138 American citizens aboard the MS Zaandam.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
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