Coronavirus: Holland America's Zaandam, Rotterdam get OK to transit Panama Canal for Florida


Passengers on Holland America’s MS Zaandam and MS Rotterdam may soon be home. 

The cruise line said late Sunday night the Panama Canal Authority has granted permission for the ships to transit the canal. Panama’s Ministry of Health gave its permission Saturday, expediting the ships’ return to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Four elderly passengers on the Zaandam have died of coronavirus; 73 guests and 116 crew members have reported flu-like symptoms associated with the virus that has sickened more than 723,000 people and killed nearly 34,000 worldwide as of Sunday night. Of the current symptomatic passengers who were tested, two tested positive for COVID-19. 

Holland America thanked the Panamanian authorities in a statement issued by spokeswoman Sally Andrews late Sunday night. “We are still finalizing the details for where and when our guests will disembark, and are asking for the same compassion and humanity to be extended for our arrival,” the statement continued. 

Holland has been transferring healthy passengers to the Rotterdam, and said that process was completed Sunday. It added the two ships will remain together for the rest of the journey.

“Guests on both ships will remain in their staterooms until disembarkation, and all necessary precautionary measures are being taken on both ships that have been developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the statement said.

Healthy, sick passengers had been separated between ships

By Friday afternoon, Holland America had transferred nearly 100 healthy passengers from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam.

A possible reason for dividing the passengers became clearer late Friday. 

Holland America said the Zaandam arrived in Panamanian waters on Friday and had since been following the protocol of Panama’s Ministry of Health, which originally stated that if a vessel has individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 on board, it cannot make any port operations or transit the Canal.

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.

“Today we announced a plan to transfer groups of healthy Zaandam guests to Rotterdam, with strict protocols for this process developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Holland America said in a statement released by spokesman Erik Elvejord. “Only those who have not been ill will be moved, and health screenings will be conducted before transferring.”

RELATED GALLERY: Coronavirus is changing everyday life across the US

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Slide 2 of 105: Dave Heinzel installs one of his handmade signs with the saying "Everything Will Be Ok" along with a 3D red heart that he handmade in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in front of a home on West Lawrence Avenue, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. Heinzel started taking requests for the signs on social media and the demand soared to over 200 requests. "I really think everything will be okay," said Heinzel. "It's going to get worse and it's not going to be fun and we're going to lose people we know, but it will be okay."
Slide 3 of 105: Aidan Hawthorne, 19, sits by the pond and begins to paint Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at Sharon Woods Metro Park in Westerville, Ohio.
Slide 4 of 105: Geraldine "Gerrie" Mitchell, left, a resident at St. Joseph's Apartments, in Erie, Pa. is greeted by her granddaughter Jennifer Frick, of Erie, on March 29, 2020. It was Mitchell's 100th birthday. Mitchell is on a stay-at-home order to slow the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus and can't have any visitors.

Slide 5 of 105: Father Sandy McDonald presides over the funeral of Ralph Ray, 73, at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Columbia, S.C. on March 27, 2020. In the front row, L-R, are Ray’s widow Cathy Ray; son Steve Ray; and Steve’s wife Ness Ray. Due to coronavirus social distancing measures, no more than ten people were allowed to attend the funeral. Three family members and two friends attended. His daughter, siblings, and grandchildren were unable to attend.
Slide 6 of 105: Cathy Ray, the widow of Ralph Ray, blows a kiss while listening to members of her garden club sing “Amazing Grace” in the parking lot following the funeral of Ralph Ray, 73, at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Columbia, S.C. on March 27, 2020.
Slide 7 of 105: Workers set up a camp in front of Mount Sinai West Hospital inside Central Park on March 29, 2020 in New York City.
Slide 8 of 105: Gary Meyer, owner of Friedrichs Coffee, throws a bag of coffee into a car window at Friedrichs Coffee in Urbandale, Iowa, on Saturday, March 28, 2020. Meyer spent Saturday morning giving free bags of coffee to residents to help pull the community together as residents spend more time isolated in their homes due to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Slide 9 of 105: Nurses stand on a hill outside the emergency entrance to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx borough of New York, Saturday, March 28, 2020, as they demonstrate with members of the New York Nursing Association in support of obtaining an adequate supply of personal protective equipment for those treating coronavirus patients. A member of the New York nursing community died earlier in the week at another New York hospital. The city leads the nation in the number of coronavirus cases. Nurses say they are having to reuse their protective equipment endangering patients and themselves.

Slide 10 of 105: A lone traveler enters an empty baggage claim area in Terminal Four at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix on Mar. 27, 2020. Airlines are reducing flights due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
Slide 11 of 105: Teacher Julie Dannenmueller holds her sign for the students with the help of the Caped Crusader as teachers from Bluewater Elementary school have a parade through their school’s neighborhoods to sat “hi” to their homebound students on March 27, 2020 in Niceville, FL.
Slide 12 of 105: Caution tape is posted on playground equipment as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 in St. Joseph, Minn. on March 26, 2020.
Slide 13 of 105: A cashier, left, works behind a plexiglass shield at a Super H Mart grocery store in Niles, Ill., March 26, 2020. Local grocery stores are installing plexiglass shields in the checkout aisle as a coronavirus precaution.
Slide 14 of 105: Robert Becker walks his dogs while carrying a .410 bore shotgun as a precaution due to the new coronavirus pandemic on March 26, 2020, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Slide 15 of 105: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation employees remove the basketball hoop from a court in Tompkins Square Park, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in New York. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said authorities would remove basketball hoops at 80 public courts where people were not respecting coronavirus social-distancing instructions not to shoot around with anyone outside their households, while leaving up roughly 1,700 others where there were no problems.
Slide 16 of 105: University of Cincinnati sophomore's Allison Brown, left, and Vanessa Perez, walk through the toilet paper section at Target in Newport, Ky., on March 14, 2020.
Slide 17 of 105: A general view of a lock on the main entrance gate on what was supposed to be opening day between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Slide 18 of 105: Zach Tobler lifts weights in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas on Thursday March 26, 2020, the second day of the shelter in place order due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tobler said his gyms have closed but he is continuing to train for an upcoming bodybuilding competition.
Slide 19 of 105: Mary Lou Vignola, center, waves to her neighbors during a socially distant block party she and her husband Frank Vignola helped organize om March, 21, 2020 for their neighborhood off Hawkins Lane in Eugene, Ore. over the weekend.
Slide 20 of 105: Tom Giesfeldt, of Milwaukee walks his his dogs in an empty Miller Park parking lot on what would have been the Milwaukee Brewers opening day game against the Chicago Cubs in Milwaukee on Thursday, March 26, 2020. The game was postponed due to the coronavirus.
Slide 21 of 105: Playground equipment is taped off to prevent use at Tysons Woods Park due to Coronavirus on March 26, 2020. Fairfax County, Virginia has closed some parks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Slide 22 of 105: Kate Madsen, 6, displays her drawing in her window in hopes that it would cheer her neighbors up on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 in Sioux Falls, S.D. Madsen and her first-grade classmates are learning remotely to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Robert Frost Elementary School. The six-year-old says she misses her teachers, friends and art class.
Slide 23 of 105: Gloria Lyons, 37, of Detroit, left, sits with a mask on as her husband Kirk Myers, 32, asks questions at a meeting before they go leafleting. The Detroit Water and Sewage Department is leafleting Wednesday, March 25, 2020 to let customers know that if their water was shut off it will be restored due to the Novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Slide 24 of 105: Becky Kreager, center, her husband Doug, granddaughter Kamdem Villemeure, 1, center left, talk to their neighbors the Runkel family in Milan, Mich. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Slide 25 of 105: Lori Glazer of Ossining, N.Y. rides an empty Metro-North train in to New York City during the morning rush hour March 25, 2020. Glazer is a registered nurse in the Children's Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. She says that riding the empty trains is surreal and that it's scary going into the city because "you never know when you're going to get sick."
Slide 26 of 105: A low number of vehicles travel on a normally busy Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee on March 24, 2020. Scores of businesses will close for a month under a new order from Gov. Tony Evers aimed at keeping people in their homes to limit the spread of coronavirus in Wisconsin.
Slide 27 of 105: New York City is the epicenter for the coronavirus in the United States. Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported 25,665 cases in New York on March 24, 2020.
Slide 28 of 105: A sign on the Southbound Lodge Freeway reminds people about the entry restrictions to Canada on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 in Detroit. (Via OlyDrop)
Slide 29 of 105: Residents at The Waterford at St. Luke Senior Independent Living Community emerge from their apartments to wave flags and sing "God Bless America" on their balconies and porches in North Canton, Ohio on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, they must remain in their living areas.
Slide 30 of 105: Nearly deserted walking paths of the National Mall with the U.S. Capitol seen in the background on March 23, 2020 as officials urge the public to avoid the DC's famous cherry blossoms and are taking steps of closing down public streets to traffic in order to keep visitors away and prevent possible coronavirus spread.
Slide 31 of 105: Mail carrier Jasmine Armstrong wears a mask while delivering the mail in Peekskill, N.Y. March 23, 2020. Armstrong says the the postal service supplies gloves and a mask, and she is maintaining the recommended six feet from others in order to avoid being exposed to the Covid-19 virus.
Slide 32 of 105: A man wearing a red bandana crosses Main Street as the Snow flies in Worchester, Mass. on Monday, March 23, 2020.
Slide 33 of 105: Alba Sanchez, right, and her children, left to right, Stefanie Mendoza, 16, Alberto Mendoza, 11, and Iker Mendoza, 6, pick up their free breakfast and lunch that was delivered on a school bus to Park Place at Loyola apartments on Monday March 23, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Austin ISD continued to provide free meals to its students and their parents amid the school closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Slide 34 of 105: Palm Beach Atlantic University student Bella Langston of Dallas, Texas, carries here bedding to her car after students were asked to go home to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in West Palm Beach, Fla on March 23, 2020.
Slide 35 of 105: People wait in line with appropriate social distancing for the 8 a.m. opening of the H-E-B in the Tanglewood Village Shopping Center in South Austin, Texas on Sunday March 22, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Slide 36 of 105: Joze Sola waves through a window to his 70-year-old mother, who lives at a senior citizens center in North Austin, Texas, on March 22, 2020.
Slide 37 of 105: Anne Peepas is blessed by Deacon Bill Shea who was posted in a window on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at St. Joseph Church in Charlton, Mass. The parishioners parked their cars at the front entrance and walked up to the windows to receive their blessings.
Slide 38 of 105: Daily routines must continue, Sammy Irizarry of Passaic, wears a mask and gloves as a precaution against COVID-19 while washing his clothes at Tri-City Laundromat on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Irizarry has preexisting health conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure and is still working.
Slide 39 of 105: Police officers direct drivers as they enter Glen Island Park in New Rochelle, New York on March 22, 2020. The park was the first site set in Westchester County set up for Covid-19 testing. New Rochelle was the epicenter of the spread of the Covid-19 virus after congregants of a neighborhood synagogue were the first to be diagnosed with the virus.
Slide 40 of 105: Signs block the paths to the beach at the Okaloosa Island, Florida, Boardwalk, Saturday, March 21, 2020, as beach closure orders are in effect for Walton and Okaloosa Counties in the Northwest Florida panhandle.
Slide 41 of 105: Times Square in Manhattan was far emptier than usual for a Saturday afternoon March 21, 2020. Coronavirus concerns have closed almost all businesses and kept most New Yorkers indoors.
Slide 42 of 105: A security guard walks through a sparsely populated transit hub in the downtown financial district as retail stores remain shuttered due to COVID-19 concerns, Saturday, March 21, 2020, in New York. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced sweeping orders Friday that will severely restrict gatherings of any size for the state's more than 19 million residents and will require workers in nonessential businesses to stay home.
Slide 43 of 105: Medical personnel administer tests to New Jersey residents at the drive-through coronavirus testing center at Bergen County Community College in Paramus, New Jersey on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Slide 44 of 105: A sign at Ever Open Cafe references the statewide closure of restaurants in Fort Collins, Colo. on Friday, March 20, 2020. Gov.¤Jared Polis ordered all Colorado restaurants, bars and breweries close to public dining and drinking on Monday, March 16, 2020. Mandatory Credit: Bethany Baker/The Coloradoan via USA Today Network. (Via OlyDrop)
Slide 45 of 105: Extremely light traffic moves along the 110 Harbor Freeway toward downtown mid afternoon, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Slide 46 of 105: Shoppers line up at a grocery store in Ardsley, NY early Friday morning, March 20, 2020. The store is limiting shoppers and attempting to enforce social distancing.
Slide 47 of 105: A man walks through a nearly empty Oculus transportation hub in lower Manhattan on March 20, 2020 in New York City.
Slide 48 of 105: A man wears a mask on his face and a camera around his neck as he looks at a mostly empty Times Square in New York City, early Thursday evening, March 19 2020.
Slide 49 of 105: A car parked on Main Street in the village of Brewster telling people to stay home because of the Coronavirus March 19, 2020.
Slide 50 of 105: Healthcare workers screen patients who will be tested for COVID-19 at the FoundCare drive-thru testing station in Palm Springs, Florida on March 19, 2020.
Slide 51 of 105: Eva's Village distributes meals to-go to hundreds of north Jersey residents in need during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic on March 19, 2020. The change from sit down meals to take away, is aimed to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus by limiting or canceling in-person events consisting of 50 people or more, according to CDC guidelines.
Slide 52 of 105: A closed sign posted at Knotz Hair Studio, one of the several businesses closed in New Rochelle, NY due to the coronavirus pandemic, March 19, 2020.
Slide 53 of 105: Two Taiwanese tourists wear masks while taking in the view at Mather Point at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona on Mar. 18, 2020. Due to the coronavirus COVID-19, park entrance fees are suspended, shuttle bus service is suspended and visitor centers are closed.
Slide 54 of 105: Gillian Goldman-Klein helps her son Ethan,6, with his math work as he does his school work at their Bedford, N.Y. home March 18, 2020. Ethan is a first-grader at the Bedford Village Elementary School. Students of all ages have started schooling at home as schools have closed due to coronavirus concerns.
Slide 55 of 105: Electronic message sign in front of the Rockland County Courthouse in New City gives advice on fighting the COVID-19 coronavirus March 18, 2020.
Slide 56 of 105: Aerial view of the Lincoln Tunnel entrance during the morning rush hour commute where few cars are seen on the road during the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday March 18, 2020 in Weehawken, N. J.
Slide 57 of 105: Empty cheese and dairy shelves greet customers at the Stop & Shop in Cross County Center in Yonkers, March 18, 2020.
Slide 58 of 105: Jordan Cook of Anderson Interfaith Ministries Hunger Ministries, gets ready to load a car in the drive-through during food pantry hours in Anderson, S.C., March 18, 2020.
Slide 59 of 105: Former employees at Redfire Grill in Hockessin, Del. come in for free to help owner Carl Georigi shut down and sort through perishable food for his employees to take home on March 17, 2020. Georigi had to lay off nearly 400 employees across his 6 restaurants after dine-in services were banned by Gov. John Carney Monday afternoon.
Slide 60 of 105: Ashley Layton, an LPN at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center, communicates with a person before taking a swab sample at a special outdoor drive-thru screening station for COVID-19 coronavirus in Meridian, Idaho on March 17, 2020.
Slide 61 of 105: Clark Drobek works at processing collections of swabs taken from various patients to see if they tested negative or positive for the Coronavirus COVID-19. The pathology and laboratory medicine labs at the Henry Ford Hospital on W. Grand Blvd in Detroit , Mich. were very busy on March 17, 2020 with many medical technologists and laboratory managers working long hours.
Slide 62 of 105: A sign announcing the shelter in place order in San Francisco is posted on Kearny Street on March 17, 2020 in San Francisco, Calif.
Slide 63 of 105: A New Orleans Police Department cruiser drives past Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, known as the oldest bar in the United States dating back to the 1700s, as it enforces an order from Louisiana's Governor John Bel Edwards to shut bars and restaurants state-wide to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, La., March 16, 2020.
Slide 64 of 105: With gloves, mask and gown on, Johanna Mannone, 79, caresses and hugs her husband Michael Mannone in the front room of WellBridge of Rochester Hills, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Rochester Hills, Michigan on March 13, 2020.She didn't know when she'd get to see him again, perhaps in a few days as the center is restricting visitors because of the Coronavirus Covid-19. She was only able to visit her husband who has lived here for 6 months for a half hour.
Slide 65 of 105: Kristi Rodriguez takes the sack lunches being handed out by Student Nutrition workers at Johnston Elementary School in Abilene, Texas on Tuesday March 17, 2020. Rodriguez was feeding her nine-year-old son Lucas and two other children in the back seat. The Abilene Independent School District is handing out breakfast and lunch to students at designated schools around the city.
Slide 66 of 105: Volunteers from the nonprofit Sponsored By Grace gathered across the street from the Vista Landing apartments on Cleveland Road in Jacksonville, Fla to distribute 11 pallets of food including dry goods, produce and meat from Feeding Northeast Florida Tuesday, March 17, 2020. According to Ron Armstrong, the Executive Director of Sponsored By Grace his organization has sponsored children in the neighborhood for some time but with the closing of schools due to the coronavirus fears and the the closing of the nearby Save A Lot, two major sources of food for the communities children, they decided to bring food to the community. "It is good that the schools are providing free lunches" said Armstrong "but 70 percent of the neighborhood does not have transportation and with the closed Save A Lot the area has become a food desert." Much of the food from Feeding Northeast Florida was donated by The Players Championship after the cancelation of this years golf tournament.
Slide 67 of 105: Mar 17, 2020; Valhalla, NY, USA; A car enters an area where tents are set up on the grounds of the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla for Coronavirus testing by appointment only March 17, 2020.
Slide 68 of 105: A man with a face mask stands on the subway station on March 17, 2020 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City.
Slide 69 of 105: Lighter than normal traffic on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is seen at 5:00 p.m. on March 16, 2020.
Slide 70 of 105: Bethel School District workers staff a station to hand out breakfast and lunch bags to students at Fairfield Elementary School in Eugene, Ore. on March 16, 2020.
Slide 71 of 105: A medical team prepares to test people for COVID-19 at a drive through station set up in the parking lot of FoundCare, federally qualified health center in West Palm Beach, Fla. on March, 16, 2020.
Slide 72 of 105: Helen Wood, a client advocate, and Nicole Davis, a special events planer, prepare food packages for client pickup on March 16, 2020. The Center for Food Action in Englewood, NJ is limiting the packing of food donations and access to the inside of their pantry to staff only in accordance to social distancing recommendations to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus. Clients picking up food are doing so outside and all employees are wearing gloves to handle food items and interact with the public. Donations are down and the request for food has increased.
Slide 73 of 105: Dr. Marjorie Bessel, Chief Clinical Officer at Banner Health discusses the COVID-19 coronavirus testing process during a press conference in Phoenix on March 16, 2020.
Slide 74 of 105: A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller, left, the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus,, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.
Slide 75 of 105: Aranza Arteaga, 4, receives a bagged lunch at the Edison Elementary School in Port Chester, N.Y., March 16, 2020. With public schools closed due to the coronavirus, several schools in Port Chester distributed free lunch to students. (Via OlyDrop)
Slide 76 of 105: A normally packed Cross County Parkway in Yonkers, NY carries very light traffic as seen March 16, 2020 at 7:25 a.m.
Slide 77 of 105: People entering the White House grounds have temperatures checked by officials at the northwest gate along Pennsylvania Avenue due to the coronavirus emergency before being allowed into the grounds on March 16, 2020 at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Slide 78 of 105: Rev. Roger Grimmett delivers his message to an empty sanctuary and a camera crew for First United Methodist Church's Sunday morning service for the first time due to restrictions of large gatherings because of COVID-19, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. First United Methodist Church live streamed their 9 a.m. traditional service as well as their 10:30 a.m. contemporary service on the church's Facebook page because of the restrictions. It's the first time the church has closed to corporate worship since 1918 at the height of the flu epidemic.
Slide 79 of 105: Amy Driscoll, 45, looks out the front door of her home, Sunday, March 15, 2020, in Hudson, Ohio. After testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday, Driscoll became Summit County's second confirmed case of coronavirus.
Slide 80 of 105: Mandy Barnett performs during the Grand Ole Opry broadcast on WSM Radio without a live audience at The Grand Ole Opry House Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Slide 81 of 105: New York State Police and Westchester County Police stop cars at the entrance to Glen Island Park in New Rochelle March 14, 2020. The park is the location for mobile testing of the Coronavirus.
Slide 82 of 105: Even for a typically slow Sunday afternoon Grand Central Terminal in New York City was quieter than usual March 15, 2020 as Coronavirus concerns kept travelers and tourists off the streets and away from popular destinations in the city.
Slide 83 of 105: Deer Valley ski resort officially closed March 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Parent company Alterra Mountain Company closed all of their fifteen resorts.
Slide 84 of 105: A health care worker with ChristianaCare takes a swab from a person in a vehicle during a drive-thru coronavirus testing setup in the parking lot of Chase Center on March 13, 2020. Tests were free, and patients will receive their results in two to five days.
Slide 85 of 105: Cars line up for a drive through testing center for the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Denver Coliseum on Mar 14, 2020.
Slide 86 of 105: People stand outside the gates of Disneyland Park on the first day of the closure of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks as fear of the spread of coronavirus continue, in Anaheim, California, on March 14, 2020.
Slide 87 of 105: A train commuter wears as mask as he waits on the Stamford bound platform at the New Rochelle Train Station, March 13, 2020.
Slide 88 of 105: Customers at grocery chain HEB in Austin look for products among increasingly empty shelves as the city responds to concerns of the spread of the new coronavirus and COVID-19 on March 13, 2020.
Slide 89 of 105: ACT Environmental Services crews clean a JetBlue plane after a flight from New York landed Wednesday night carrying a passenger who’d been infected with coronavirus at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida on March, 12, 2020.  (Via OlyDrop)
Slide 90 of 105: A woman moves out of Chadbourne Hall Thursday, March 12, 2020 on the campus of UW-Madison in Madison, Wis. The university is one of multiple Wisconsin universities on Wednesday took dramatic steps to ward off or curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, everything from moving courses online to canceling university-sponsored travel and events to extending spring break.
Slide 91 of 105: Tourists visit the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on the final day the U.S. Capitol will be open to the public due to the coronavirus outbreak on March 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Earlier today it was announced the U.S. Capitol will be closed until at least April 1 due to evolving concerns about the spread of the virus.
Slide 92 of 105: Trader Michael Gallucci works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Stocks are closing sharply lower on Wall Street, erasing more than 1,400 points from the Dow industrials, as investors wait for a more aggressive response from the U.S. government to economic fallout from the coronavirus.
Slide 93 of 105: Judie Shape, left, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, waves to her daughter, Lori Spencer, right, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, as they visit on the phone and look at each other through a window at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., near Seattle. In-person visits are not allowed at the nursing home. The vast majority of people recover from the new coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness.
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Slide 95 of 105: Street performers who wear character costumes to pose for photos with tourists in exchange for tips, stand around waiting for customers, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in New York's Times Square. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
Slide 96 of 105: Students leave New Rochelle High School after classes are dismissed, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in New York. State officials are shuttering schools and houses of worship for two weeks in part of the New York City suburb New Rochelle and sending the National Guard there to help respond to what appears to be the nation's biggest cluster of coronavirus cases.
Slide 97 of 105: David Rodriguez, top, and Joseph Alberts, of the City of Austin Transportation Department, take down a South by Southwest street banner on East 7th Street outside the music venue Barracuda on Tuesday March 10, 2020, after SXSW was canceled due to the coronavirus scare.
Slide 98 of 105: Passenger aboard the Grand Princess celebrate as they arrive in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, March 9, 2020. The cruise ship, which had maintained a holding pattern off the coast for days, is carrying multiple people who tested positive for COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Slide 99 of 105: A patient is loaded into an ambulance at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash. Monday, March 9, 2020, near Seattle. The nursing home is at the center of the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Washington state.
Slide 100 of 105: A worker wipes down fare gates at the Montgomery Street Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station on March 7, 2020 in San Francisco, California. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, people are taking precautions to keep themselves and the general public safe by cleaning surfaces and wearing protective masks.
Slide 101 of 105: A woman who tested positive with the coronavirus is brought to the University of Nebraska Medical Center, March 6, 2020. She was transferred from Omaha's Methodist Hospital in an isolation pod inside an ambulance.
Slide 102 of 105: People walk through a sparse international departure terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport as concern over the coronavirus grows on March 7, 2020 in New York City. The number of global coronavirus infections has now surpassed 100,000, causing disruptions throughout the globe. The airline and travel industries has been especially hard hit by the outbreak, with both business and leisure travelers cancelling plans.
Slide 103 of 105: Golden State Warriors fan Noah Gutierrez 11-years-old form Littleton, Colo. holds out his hand while wearing an elastic glove hoping to get a high five from Golden State Warriors Damion Lee prior to their game against the Denver Nuggets, March 3, 2020 in Denver. The NBA has told players to avoid high-fiving fans and strangers and avoid taking any item for autographs, the league's latest response in its ongoing monitoring of the coronavirus crisis.
Slide 104 of 105: Larry Bowles, an equipment service worker for King County Metro, sprays Virex II 256, a disinfectant, throughout a metro bus at the King County Metro Atlantic/Central operating base on March 4, 2020 in Seattle, Wash. Metro's fleet of 1600 buses will get sprayed once a day to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Slide 105 of 105: A staff member blocks the view as a person is taken by a stretcher to a waiting ambulance from a nursing facility where more than 50 people are sick and being tested for the COVID-19 virus, in Kirkland, Wash. on Feb. 29, 2020.

Andrea Bergmann Anderson, 63, a passenger from Ohio, was one of the passengers hoping to be given medical clearance to move to the Rotterdam. But first, she had to pass a questionnaire and temperature screening.

“I went to the medical center nine days ago because of the sinus infection and a cough,” she told USA TODAY Friday afternoon, adding she completed two rounds of antibiotics for the infection. Her husband, Rob, had also reported a cold to the medical center. She was feeling a bit nervous that she would not be allowed to transfer because of her visit to the center. “We filled out a medial form, and we were honest.”

Andrea and Rob were not among the passengers to get the green light to switch ships.

A little later on Friday afternoon, Andrea told USA TODAY that they had not passed the health screening. Neither had a fever at the time of the screening and neither was asked to take a test for COVID-19. But they were told they would be remaining on the Zaandam nonetheless.

“I am kind of depressed about this,” she said. “I had hoped that we could go and that the ship would be clear to disembark. We could have lied, but that would not be right.”

Andrea understood why she and Rob weren’t allowed to make the switch, in spite of her disappointment. “They have be careful.”

Zaandam caught at sea as cruise lines agreed to suspend operations 

Holland America Line, along with major cruise lines worldwide, announced March 13 it would suspend cruise operations for at least 30 days and end its cruises in progress. But cruise ships that were at sea at the time that were stuck on the water. They have been denied ports and scrambled to get passengers disembarked amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Zaandam began its South American voyage from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end the sailing in San Antonio, Chile, March 21.

No one has been off the ship since March 14 when it was in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Contributing: Andrea Mandell

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Holland America’s Zaandam, Rotterdam get OK to transit Panama Canal for Florida

WATCH: Holland America ships headed to Florida (provided by CBS Miami)


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