Passengers have been confined to their rooms on Holland America's 'mystery cruise' after several guests and crew members exhibited 'flu-like symptoms'

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  • Passengers on board the MS Zaandam, a Holland America Line cruise ship, have been asked to remain in their state rooms because several crew members and guests have begun exhibiting "flu-like symptoms."
  • These individual instances of sickness have not been confirmed as COVID-19 cases, and Holland America did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
  • "The captain came on the intercom and told us several passengers and crew have flu-like conditions," one passenger told Business Insider in a text.
  • The Zaandam's 842 passengers and 542 crew members are currently sailing north after being shut out of South American ports over coronavirus concerns.
  • Are you a cruise ship passenger or employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Passengers onboard the MS Zaandam, a Holland America cruise ship, have been asked to remain in their staterooms after several passengers and crew members began exhibiting "flu-like symptoms."

Chile had previously blocked the ship from allowing its president to disembark over coronavirus concerns, leaving the cruise ship uncertain about its ongoing route. Previously, the cruise was scheduled to last 14 days, embarking from Buenos Aires on March 7 and set to end in San Antonio on March 21. Those plans were diverted due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the cruise ship rerouted its course to sail north to an undetermined destination.

But now, a day after the ship was supposed to dock in San Antonio, passengers are reporting an outbreak of sickness on board. An American guest who asked to go by his first name Chuck over privacy concerns described the March 22 announcement to Business Insider.

"The captain came on the intercom and told us several passengers and crew have flu-like conditions," Chuck told Business Insider in a text. "We are all now confined to our rooms. I guess the fun is over. Now I wish we would have upgraded to a balcony."

Holland America did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Previously, the cruise line said in a statement that the Zaandam was not in quarantine and that there were no known or suspected cases of COVID-19 on board. The passengers and crew members who are currently exhibiting flu-like symptoms have not yet been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Chuck said that guests will still be allowed to order room service and that the captain said the decision was made "out of caution." Another source whose brother is currently onboard the ship confirmed that passengers have been confined to their rooms due to "flu-like symptoms."

This is the latest instance of the havoc that the coronavirus outbreak has wrought on the cruise ship industry. Six passengers died after getting caught up in the coronavirus outbreak onboard the Diamond Princess ship in February. A majority of the guests released from the Grand Princess declined to be tested for the disease after a lengthy quarantine.

Now that crew members and passengers on the Zaandam have been struck with an as-of-yet-unknown illness, it is unclear what the ship's next course of action will be. But Chuck said that the news from the captain has brought down spirits on board. Yesterday, passengers had cheered the captain had announced that the ship's crew hoped to sail through the Panama Canal and up to Fort Lauderdale.

"The mood just changed," he told Business Insider in a text.

Are you a cruise ship passenger or employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.

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