144 passengers and crew members have fallen ill aboard the stranded Holland America cruise so far, and a coronavirus test is still on the way

holland america zaandam

CLAUDIO MONGE/AFP via Getty Images

The Zaandam has been locked out of South American ports over coronavirus concerns.

  • Sickness is spreading on the MS Zaandam, a stranded Holland America Line cruise ship, with 144 passengers and crew members falling ill, people aboard the ship told Business Insider.
  • Previously, the cruise line reported that 42 crew members and guests were exhibiting "influenza-like symptoms."
  • Holland America has dispatched the MS Rotterdam to supply the Zaandam with COVID-19 testing kits and other medical supplies.
  • The Zaandam has been locked out of South American ports over coronavirus concerns.
  • The ship-tracking website Vessel Finder located the ship off the coast of Ecuador. 
  • 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.

A total of 144 passengers and crew members have fallen ill aboard the MS Zaandam, a Holland America Line cruise ship stranded off the coast of South America, according to passengers on board.

Previously, the cruise line reported that 13 guests and 29 crew members were exhibiting "influenza-like symptoms." Now, passengers on board told Business Insider that the numbers have jumped to 86 crew members and 58 passengers.

Holland America did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, although they did post an update to the line's official Facebook page on March 24. 

The outbreak of illness has not yet been identified as COVID-19, as the Zaandam does not have coronavirus testing capacity on board. Holland America has dispatched the MS Rotterdam to supply the Zaandam with COVID-19 testing kits and other medical supplies.

"As all ports along Zaandam's route are closed to cruise ships, Holland America Line has deployed Rotterdam to rendezvous with Zaandam and provide extra supplies, staff, COVID-19 test kits and other support as needed," Holland America said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Carrying 611 crew and no guests, Rotterdam departed Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at 3 p.m. local time on March 22 and the current schedule is for the two ships to meet by the evening of March 26 off the coast of Panama."

The cruise is currently located off the coast of Ecuador, according to the ship-tracking website Vessel Finder. There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew members on board.

Passengers were confined to their state rooms on March 22, with crew members relegated to delivering meals and collecting trash from each cabin. But concerns over the ship's sanitary measures have already arisen. Australia's 9 News published photos posted on Facebook of "crew members packed tightly together in a narrow corridor while collecting passengers' meal trays."

 

The cruise on the Zaandam was scheduled to last 14 days, embarking from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and set to end in San Antonio, Chile, this past Saturday. Those plans were diverted because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the cruise ship rerouted its course to sail north to an undetermined destination.

Currently, the ship is attempting to secure "a reservation to transit the Panama Canal" with the intention of sailing up to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a March 30 arrival. The Panama Canal Authority declined to comment about whether or not the ship will be permitted to sail through the canal, and the US Embassy in Panama did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

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

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