A Humanitarian Crisis: Response to Cruise Ships Stranded at Sea Tests Our Deepest Human Values

A Humanitarian Crisis
Response to Cruise Ships Stranded at Sea Tests Our Deepest Human Values

By Orlando Ashford, President, Holland America Line

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has run rampant through neighborhoods, businesses and nations, catching all us off guard. Stoked by fear of contagion, millions of people around the world are sheltering in place waiting out the storm.

During a time when we’re afraid to go out, fearful of others as possible COVID-19 carriers, how do we ensure we continue acting in ways consistent with our common human dignity?

Holland America Line is working tirelessly to find medical help and safe passage home for the 1,243 guests and 1,247 crew stranded at sea on our two ships, Zaandam and Rotterdam. They are among the 9,000-plus passengers still remaining on about a dozen other cruise ships(1) worldwide. These are unfortunate souls unwittingly caught up in the fast-changing health, policy and border restrictions that have rapidly swept the globe.

The questions I keep asking myself for guests and crew on these ships are:
• How will those needing intensive medical treatment receive it with limited shipboard medical staff, facilities and supplies?
• Nations are reluctant to share provisions or afraid to carry critical supplies out to us. What happens when our supplies run out?
• Can guests and crew without symptoms get home with limited flights and closed borders?

Even our guests are questioning, “My President or Prime Minister told me to get home. I’m a citizen. How can my government turn me away?”

Nations are justifiably focused on the COVID-19 crisis unfolding before them. But they’ve turned their backs on thousands of people left floating at sea. Are these reactions based on facts from experts like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or fueled by irrational fear? What happened to compassion and help thy neighbor?

Forced to Fend for Ourselves

We are dealing with a “not my problem” syndrome. The international community, consistently generous and helpful in the face of human suffering, shut itself off to Zaandam leaving her to fend for herself.

As a result, Zaandam was forced to take proactive measures, rendezvousing with sister ship Rotterdam to replenish much-needed supplies and protect the health of the guests and crew who aren’t ill.

We made the unprecedented decision to transfer to Rotterdam those guests we could quickly and safely move to alleviate Zaandam crew workload immediately, and to get as many guests as possible into rooms with windows and verandahs. Following CDC protocols, we screened guests prior to transfer and all wore protective face masks. To ensure everyone’s well-being, we did not move guests who needed further screening or those likely to need ongoing support by the medical team to Rotterdam. Guests on both ships continue to self-isolate in their staterooms.

Reducing the guest count on Zaandam helps available staff better serve those remaining on board. No guests who have been ill or symptomatic were moved, nor were their close contacts. And no Zaandam crew moved to Rotterdam. Zaandam received additional medical supplies including COVID-19 tests, face masks for guests and personal protective equipment for crew, as well as medical staff. This will help, but patients will need to get home for additional medical care.

How We Got Here

It’s important to remember passengers and crew did nothing wrong. When voyages began in early March, South and North America had few confirmed COVID-19 cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) was advising against travel restrictions and the Americas weren’t affected by travel or health advisories. Travel in all forms continued to bustle across the continents as recently as mid-March – albeit with more personal hygiene reminders.

Within a matter of days, that all changed. Local governments swiftly closed ports globally. Ships previously cleared for docking were abruptly turned away. Officials denied repeated requests for access and assistance and the world shut itself off, leaving ships stranded at sea to make it on their own, which isn’t sustainable. Eventually someone must allow these ships in.

Holland America Line began actively monitoring COVID-19 in early 2020, working with international health authorities to step up already-robust screening, prevention and control procedures to keep guests and crew safe. Then on March 13, amid growing global health concerns, we announced a 30-day suspension of global cruise operations. On March 30 that suspension was extended an additional 30 days, cancelling cruises through May 14.

For ships like Zaandam mid-operation – its two-week South America voyage began March 7 – we quickly sought approval to disembark guests for flights home. Chile announced the closure of their borders on March 16, literally while Zaandam had been sitting in Punta Arenas for two days awaiting clearance for guests to disembark for flights home. Peru closed, as did Argentina, and the rest of the ports in South America. Repeated requests for humanitarian consideration were denied.

Then March 22 – one day after the voyage’s original end date – a few guests and crew began reporting influenza-like symptoms. Despite countless desperate pleas in the following days, we were forbidden to medevac critically ill patients to shore-side hospitals (usually standard operating procedure for comprehensive care that ships aren’t equipped to provide).

Already four guests have passed away and I fear other lives are at risk. As of March 30, 76 guests and 117 crew on Zaandam have influenza-like illness, including eight people who have tested positive for COVID-19. We have seen a notable and steady decline in cases of the last 48 hours, which shows the immediate actions we took have helped contain spread.

However, there are also 1,167 healthy guests and 1,130 healthy crew across these two ships.

Thankfully, the Panamanian government graciously granted humanitarian approval allowing us to move through the Panama Canal, which we did the evening of March 29. Even with this progress, we are still facing a multi-day journey before we can safely dock and disembark. And we need confirmation from a port that is willing to extend the same compassion and grace that Panama did, and allow us to come in so our guests can go straight to the airport for flights home. It’s tempting to speculate about the illnesses that may have been avoided or lives saved if we’d gotten the assistance we sought weeks ago.

COVID-19 Response a Test of Our Humanity

It’s easy to condemn those who are unhelpful and unwelcoming during times of need. But what if instead we focus on the type of society we strive to be, where nations share a collective responsibility to help others in peril? Because these travelers could have been any one of us or our families – caught up by a fast-changing scenario nobody foresaw.

The COVID-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our common humanity. To slam the door in the face of these people betrays our deepest human values.

Given the opportunity, I am hopeful that all of us will follow the lead of our Panamanian friends and help our neighbors.

1 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/stranded-at-sea-cruise-ships-around-the-world-are-adrift-as-ports-turn-them-away


Join the Discussion


  1. Gregory Hendrickson February 26, 2024 at 6:31 am - Reply

    Could someone please contact me in regard to this article from Holland Staff. I am doing research for a project and would like to discuss getting Holland’s bigger story out of their pandemic actions.
    Mariner ID: 117529073
    Thank you!

    • Julie March 22, 2024 at 7:13 am - Reply

      Hi Gregory, we are putting together some information for you and will send you an email. Regards!

  2. Theresa bournique April 5, 2020 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    WELL DONE, HAL! We have 300+ days with you & hope to have 300 more with H A L!!! Our 4/6 sailing on Rotterdam was cancelled and we got all of our money back! Would have expected and got that action from you. FIRST CLASS CRUISE LINE!
    Praying for all the crew and passengers! We will sail again! Wonderful letter, Orlando, thanks.

  3. Rozell Doering April 4, 2020 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Excellent response to the humanitarian crisis. Thank you.

    I was one of the passengers on the ms Amsterdam. You flew me home (first class though I had not originally booked first class) from Perth to Sydney, Sydney to Honolulu, Honolulu to Phoenix. No problems! My daughter met me in Phoenix and drove me home to Sun City West. I had very little jet lag, and have no symptoms of the coronavirus. I have been staying home, no contact with my friends or neighbors. I am one of the lucky ones and for a ‘little old lady soon to celebrate her 90th birthday’ I am thankful.
    The 2020 world cruise (my 12th world cruise) was wonderful. I am grateful to ALL the staff aboard the Amsterdam!!!!
    May the world cruises ‘shine’ again!

  4. Diane Harker April 3, 2020 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    I am very proud of the way you and Hal have handled this very difficult situation. We had to cancel a cruise because of Coronavirus, but will be booking another soon. We are 4Star Mariners and think Hal is the best!

  5. Elaine Clabeaux April 3, 2020 at 5:15 am - Reply

    Thank you for writing the truth of this very sad situation.
    Holland America did nothing wrong yet Chile denied your ability to allow people to fly home as was the original plan. I find this totally unacceptable and the possible reason so many lives were impacted with health issues as time progressed.
    We are experiencing a world wide pandemic and no one has answers. Here in California the rules keep changing….don’t wear a mask…now wear a mask. I do not attempt to blame any one entity but sadly this experience has not brought out the best in people or governments.
    I’m just happy that the passengers can get home or get treatment if needed.
    If we live through this I will be excited to get back on one of my favorite Holland ships in the fall. As a four star Mariner I traveled extensively with you. My last experience was trying to avoid the typhoon in Japan last October. Let us all pray for calm waters and good health.

  6. Sara Baskin April 3, 2020 at 4:43 am - Reply

    I have sailed many times with Holland Am and will again in better times. The failure of this Government to take care if it’s citizens and lead the world in the moral directions is no fault of Holland Am. Thank you for caring for the citizens of this world.

  7. Henk Ekkelenkamp April 3, 2020 at 3:37 am - Reply

    Deep respect HAL!
    I pray for good coming home for guests and crew.
    Best cruisecompany worldwide also in crisises! Top HAL!

  8. Ann Pederson April 3, 2020 at 2:27 am - Reply

    Thank you Panama for being there in the time of need for this ship. I think it is heartless the way people have been treated on these ships. God bless all of you.

  9. Mary Holland April 3, 2020 at 12:25 am - Reply

    My friend and I disembarked the Osterdaam March 14th in San Diego. We found out that morning that the ship was not sailing for the next 30 days. Throughout the cruise the staff constantly cleaned around the ship and made sure people cleaned hands before entering dining areas.
    I am truly upset the State of Flofida has not let the ships dock, or has finally done so. The cruise ship companies have brought so many tourists to that state and has given a good economy over the years and this is how they treat you. Time to change ports if possible for cruisers. I will try to avoid sailing from that State.
    Keep up the good work. Cruisers will be back.
    Best regards.

  10. J.Gehrmann April 2, 2020 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Congratulations and well done for bringing Zadm & Rtdm into port.

  11. Tony Ruffell April 2, 2020 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    We feel for you, the passengers and the crews affected. It’s an appalling situation that you have been put in. We wish you well and hope for a speedy resolution for everyone. Let us hope that common sense and decent humanity prevails

  12. Elonda Austin April 2, 2020 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    I feel that the Government should give them the same treatment that they have shown those ships to see how it feels. Also that govenor in Florida shouldn’t have his position as governor because he knows better. On a personal note he should really suffer & let him go through 30 days of being neglected like he did the ships & the rest of those countries who turned their backs on them. They have no excuse for what they have done & I bet if their families where on that ship they would have done everything in their power to help.

  13. Karen Smith April 2, 2020 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Wow, what a piercing look at our humanity. We must extend our help to everyone in need. We should no longer live in the “leper colony” mentality, but rather we should give aid to any and all who need medical intervention. Surely this can be done with precautions.
    The Holland American passengers are in my prayers.

  14. Sheila Snowden April 2, 2020 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Well stated and well written. We have sailed with Holland America several times. We won’t sail with anyone else. The cleanliness, efficiency, caring report of All Staff Is unbelievable. It’s unfortunate that all this medical emergency has caused so many issues and catastrophic outcome. I understand why some ports do not want the ships to dock. FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is I believe as bad as the actual epidemic. So stressful. However, if the I’ll clients are not allowed to get off the ship it will only make things worse onboard. They don’t have the proper facilities, medical supplies and medical staff. If the sick people stay onboard, then there is a chance that more clients will fall I’ll. We have a cruise booked for October. Hopefully we’ll get that, things will be settled by then. I feel as I’m sure as thousands others are afraid, unsure, and could be touched by COVID 19. GOD BLESS TO EVERYONE DWALING WITH THIS TERRIBLE SITUATION.

  15. Helmut Stapel & Nicole Schulze-Aissen April 2, 2020 at 1:02 am - Reply

    You are absolutely right and we are with you and your guests and crew – hoping you receive the help you need like everyone on land does. A cruiseliner is still on this planet even if it is on water. Our best wishes!
    Helmut Stapel & Nicole Schulze-Aissen

  16. Joyce greek April 2, 2020 at 12:20 am - Reply

    God speed, glad and excited you can dock in Florida and disembark your passengers , Holland America..you did above and beyond, so proud to sailed with you and looking forward in sailing in to the future, you care for your passengers and crew, your amazing..god bless

  17. judy weisman April 1, 2020 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    As a frequent cruiser I am just sickened by the thought that these ships can’t dock and the passengers and crew rescued. I always believed my medical needs on a ship would be taken care of and grateful that I never needed to be airlifted off the ship. Hope this gets resolved, the passengers and crew get help and this doesn’t turn into “A Ship of Fools.”

  18. Brian McCarthy April 1, 2020 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    My plans to take 2 cruises on HAL this year are now on hold but I will return a.s.a.p. I have sailed 2 times on the Zandam and would gladly do so again. I have no doubt that the safety of crew and passengers were always the first priority. Thanks to all for everything thet have done and will continue to do.

  19. Bruce mochwart April 1, 2020 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Contact the port commissioners office at Port Canaveral . All our cruise terminal so are separated a distance away from each other. 10 total. Plenty of space for ambulances etc to off load. Please look into it. We also need HAL here permanently. Thank you !

  20. Ann Sikors April 1, 2020 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    HAL you are doing a great job. These things have happened through no fault of your own. Hold your heads up high and thank those people still on board the ships working and also those continuing to stay aboard. God Bless you all

  21. James Fisher April 1, 2020 at 4:38 pm - Reply


    While I am concerned about the passengers and their health and safety, you should NOT be in the cruise business if you can’t care for your passengers during a crisis. More importantly, why are you note returning your ships to the countries where they are registered and fly under? Why should the US be responsible for passengers aboard Bahamian ships? It is an open secret that your company registers ships in foreign countries to avoid paying US taxes and following US labor laws. This is where that has landed you. And aren’t you asking for US dollars to bail you out? You should be ashamed. I hope this industry learns a lesson and it won’t be sad day if a few of lines go out of business for such practices.

  22. Lair Potts April 1, 2020 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Orlando and HAL, We know you are doing your best, and so many want to point fingers in hindsight. Its so easy to pass blame after the fact when it hd not been declared a Pandemic until after she sailed. We boarded the Nieuw Statendam on the 8th, the day after the Zaandam had departed on their voyage. People need to understand it changed VERY RAPIDLY during that week and that HAL was up to the task of caring for their guests. I was there and saw the response, the concern and the professionalism of dealing with a rapidly escalating situation. I was VERY impressed! Our hearts and prayers go out to those aboard any ship at sea. Turning away anyone, especially Americans in an American port is unconscionable and not in line with the values of the US. What can we can we do to urge those in power to assist?

  23. Diane Eleveld April 1, 2020 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    I feel horrible that the same people who cheer on the drs and nurses for helping covid patients, turn their backs on others who need help. I apologize on behalf of all humanity. May the Lord bless all of you, heal thr sick and keep the others healthy. Praying for you

  24. Patricia April 1, 2020 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Excellent outline of the situation. We know HAL will do the very best they can for their guests and crew. HAL has our complete support. If we could we would be the first back on a HAL ship once sailing resumes.

    Thanks for this post.

  25. Sam Giammo April 1, 2020 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Mr. Ashford for your comprehensive update. I know that you are doing everything you can. My wife and I disembarked from the Koningsdam on March 15 and fortunately were able to easily get home. I hope the people on the Zaandam and Rotterdam can do the same. Thanks, Sam Giammo, 4-star Mariner.

  26. Timothy A Jules April 1, 2020 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Well said Mr. Orlando Ashford reading this Blog just brought tiers to my eyes.

    Thank you it was an upliftment #Halstrong.

  27. T K April 1, 2020 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Why aren’t they looking into docking in Port Canaveral, Florida? The Covid 19 cases are low, it is off the mainland, there are military bases near, and they have the new Mardi Gras terminal they could potentially use. Lets bring these people home.

  28. Marge April 1, 2020 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Love is the answer on all sides of this crisis. Much soul searching and walking in other people’s shoes will make all of us better people in the long run. All death is sad in the moment. It is also the only way to be born into the next stage of our eternal lives. God loves his children. We are ALL his children. Love to all.

  29. Billy April 1, 2020 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Just a thought, but you should contact the Virginia Port Authority and request to dock at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal. It has plenty of capacity for your ship and is an area that would be easily cordoned off from the general public. The area’s medical facilities are not heavily taxed currently by COVID-19. we also have the Portsmouth Naval Regional Medical Center. This would be a good alternative and you could have her here by Friday. I think Trump would help you get here

  30. Jack Cummings April 1, 2020 at 11:29 am - Reply

    We have US Navy hospital ships on both coasts, fully staffed, ask for permission to dock along side

  31. Nancy Thornton April 1, 2020 at 11:20 am - Reply

    I am a passenger now on the Rotterdam and am most appreciative of the efforts of the Captain’s and crews of the sister ships. They have been extraordinary I these very difficult circumstances. Like other frontline workers, they are heroes!

  32. Carolyn Stadfeld April 1, 2020 at 10:43 am - Reply

    My heart aches for your crew and passengers.
    I am so angry. These passengers and crew could
    be taken to hotels in Ft. Lauderdale and quarantined there.
    Couldn’t some passenger’s countries send planes for them
    to Ft. Lauderdale?
    For years people from Mexico and all South American
    countries have been crossing illegally into the United States.
    perhaps bringing diseases into our country. Why wouldn’t
    Mexico allow your ships to dock there. Some people
    in our country demand that we let everyone into our
    country and now they are saying no in this crisis.
    I hope and pray that President Trump will grant you
    permission to land in Ft. Lauderdale or Port Canaveral.
    Please extend to your crew and passenger my thoughts
    and prayers for a safe, quick trip home to their families.
    May God bless you, and hold you close to his heart.

  33. Andri Tri Handoko Putro April 1, 2020 at 9:57 am - Reply

    We are all crew on board HAL stand with you

  34. Paul Reuss April 1, 2020 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Having followed the plight of the passengers, and crew aboard the Zaandam, I feel compelled to volunteer to help in any way that I can. As a former part time instructor in shipboard firefighting for Resolve Maritime Academy at Port Everglades, I still have a valid port identification card, and can access most areas of the port. Also, I am somewhat familiar with IMO maritime regulations, and procedures. In addition, I am a retired firefighter/paramedic, and FEMA disaster response volunteer. Please be assured that not all Floridians are opposed to granting your ships access to Port Everglades, and providing some level of comfort, and relief for your passengers and crew.

  35. TimAWentz April 1, 2020 at 7:52 am - Reply

    I have a solution to this dilimia!
    Set up on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean these portable hospital tents like they are setting up in Central Park NY. Deploy hospital staff to work these units then transfer the ill cruise passengers to this temporary hospital Island. When they are well they can be transferred home. Just an idea. Tim A Wentz

  36. Carol Gupwell April 1, 2020 at 2:52 am - Reply

    Our thoughts and prayers to you Sir your crew and passengers.
    God Speed ..

  37. Elizabeth du Toit April 1, 2020 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Most unfortunate that your strong and healthy crew members had to manage loading food on small vessels when Zaandam was refused docking. Sad that them being unfortunately exposed and exhausted in this manner could not have been prevented as it was beyond the control of Zaandam. Thank you for caring for crew members by allowing unwell crew to recuperate, knowing that willing but unable crew members are excluded from being part of a necessary workforce, and praises to the healthy crew members who are carrying the burden presently. Our prayers are with all the Zaandam crew members. On behalf of all families of crew members from all over the world. Your lives matter. We salute you.

  38. Lori Shaw April 1, 2020 at 2:09 am - Reply

    I took the eurodam in nov I am a travel agent we did van to San for nest fest it was very nice I pray for this to be over and for help to the travelers

  39. Sally Ahlstrom April 1, 2020 at 12:42 am - Reply

    Our dear friend Judith Jaggers is on board the Z. She has not been ill but has been denied transfer to the Rotterdam because she uses a c-pap machine! A nearby port needs to show compassion and get these people home…their illness is not of their own doing! Man up world & get this done!!!!

  40. Sharon B. Sanders April 1, 2020 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Please save these people on these 2 ships. They should be allowed to disembark and seek medical help or fly home if they are tested and do not have the virus.

  41. Sandra keith April 1, 2020 at 12:04 am - Reply

    You are right on. As a 4 star Holland America guest we will sail again. Bless all of you, your crews, guests. May God bless you all.

  42. William robinson April 1, 2020 at 12:02 am - Reply

    It could be anyone’s family member in this situation, In the Bible it says, you speak of God but your heart is far from it, if your going to speak the truth than live it.

  43. Avon Ohl March 31, 2020 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Have friends that just completed your South American 74 day cruise. They declared it was a trip of a life time. They had so many wonderful experiences. They have returned to Australia and self isolated. They reported that the ship and crew especially were very supportive of your actions taken with them . We are booked on the same tour 2021. We remain booked as I believe you would cancel that trip if there were any health issues. We look forward to cruising with your company in 2021.

  44. Joel Heine March 31, 2020 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Orlando (MCO ?)
    Well spoken and I support you and your fabulous Crews 110%!!
    I just got off the Rotterdam March 11 in SAN was to re-board again on April 6 in FLL (it was xld)
    The Rotterdam is my home away from home numerous times a year. Captain Bas and Hotel Director Bart are aboard and that alone speaks well of HAL – in times like this our true colors shine through and deep down we DO care about each other and put politics aside!!
    Joel Heine
    Mariner# 396358426

  45. Nancie Lafferty March 31, 2020 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this informative post. May safe harbor be reached soon. We just debarked a cruise ship here in San Diego, I hope Florida will be as reasonable.

  46. Dee Wescott March 31, 2020 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    Mr. Ashford. Thank you so much for getting my husband and me home in a safe (if somewhat roundabout) manner. We really appreciate it! I will say that you might want to give your travel department some lessons in geography. Just sayin!

    With Aloha,

  47. Jill March 31, 2020 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    I don’t see why the healthy Guests and crew can’t be routed home from Fort Lauderdale. Those that are ill could be treated onboard once fresh supplies are loaded. I know it’s not as simple as that but we cannot ignore the onboard suffering and treat these people like refugees or hostages. Some of these people could easily be friends and family. Do the right thing. We are nothing without humanity and compassion. The cruise industry is very important to South Florida. This treatment will not be easily forgiven or forgotten.

  48. Betty Long March 31, 2020 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    I have sailed with Holland America many times,,and presently have the Grand Africa cruise booked for October 2020. I know Holland has the utmost standards for safety, and never would have put their guests in jeopardy. This situation is horrible ,and it is unthinkable that the USA will not let you dock! I imagine a lot of the passengers are American,,,the government worked to bring many Americans home from Peru and many other places,,,,,,how is bringing Americans home from the sea any different I ask ? I will be following your situation closely, and pray for a quick resolution!

  49. Neva Gould March 31, 2020 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your care of everyone on your ships. You and they are in my prayers daily.
    I have faith that there will be a quick and compassionate response by someone able to help.

  50. Joyce G. March 31, 2020 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    God speed, we pray that president trump will allow the 2 holland America ships that need humanitarian aid, who ever allows your ships to dock and save your passengers and crew from this killer virus, this is a time that greatest will shine. God bless all that is sailing aboard these ships, god speed to dock on the Atlantic coast of America, protector of the innocents…

  51. Joyce G. March 31, 2020 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    The governor of Florida refusing to accept the ships who need humanitarian aid, Remember him the on Election Day, they are humans in need, humanity and sickness they need help.. if you are a man that believes in life after death, or in a God…let them dock, and give them aid..karma is a bitch and god is watching, Florida needed aid when the hurricane and oil rig polluted your shores, now it’s your turn to repay some of the favour…do good for others as we did for you over the years now stand up and do good for these ships and crew and passengers…be accountable Florida show the world…we have love, compassion and kindness ..you are better than that.

  52. Michael Odanaka March 31, 2020 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much for your forthright, detailed and compassionate overview of the terrible situation confronting the crew and passengers aboard the Rotterdam and Zaandam. You are right that how Florida, how the United States, how the world responds to the plight of 2,300 passengers and crew members is a test of our humanity. In June1939 the M.S. St. Louis tried to dock in Miami but it was refused entry. Most of its 900+ passengers were Jewish. The ship was forced to return to Europe where over 200 of the passengers were killed during the holocaust. I’d like to think that the world has changed… Hopefully we (the United States and Florida) will respond to your call for assistance. I am praying for the passengers and crew members.

  53. Shelly March 31, 2020 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    This is appalling! I am ashamed of all the countries that will not provide assistance to HAL ships in need. God bless the crew & passengers.

  54. Val Kent March 31, 2020 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Well said and hopefully widely read. We can understand their hesitation but their humanity must come into play at this time. The passengers and crew deserve no less.

  55. Kelly McKee March 31, 2020 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Love the Zaandam, and disgusted by attitude of state govs (NIMBY). Have you considered asking the Navy for a rendezvous with one of their hospital ships? Offload all passengers and sick crew for quarantine and Rx as needed? Doesn’t solve disposition of ship and remaining crew but it could be a start to solving the problem.

  56. Alyson Lefler March 31, 2020 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Our family recently returned from a Caribbean cruise. We had 5 children with us. I can’t imagine being quarantined in a room and feeling fearful and helpless. It amazes me that This world has forgotten about compassion and that there was not a way to help these people. I can hardly believe it?. Our prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  57. David Williams March 31, 2020 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    Why didn’t Zaandam and Rotterdam dock In Panama? Isn’t that where Carnival Corp US is incorporated and pays taxes? How about Aruba? Why not dock there? Ships are flagged in the Netherlands.

    The US is not the world’s hospital. Why praise Panama? They just let your ships sail through, despite Carnival and HAL being Panamanian companies.

  58. Denise Casey March 31, 2020 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    This is a deplorable situation! As a world traveler and frequent cruiser I am shocked at the lack of compassion shown by our government. However, I know that Holland America is a unique, superior cruise line and will adapt and succeed to be a premature travel choice.

  59. LAURIE CORTES March 31, 2020 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    The amazing generosity to countries around the world by the United States was certainly not reciprocated in this time of need. Certainly makes me think that Trump or any future President should take a hard look where we are doling out aid.

  60. Andrew Brian Hart March 31, 2020 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Speaking as a United States citizen, I am ashamed of my government for taking this position. It’s wrong.

  61. Helen G. March 31, 2020 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Holland America knew the coronavirus was out there on March 7th, my guess it they didn’t want to cancel and refund the fares. How much is HA willing to pay to a country to allow the customers and staff to be quarantined and provide medical care for those who are ill? Or, are you expecting someone else to pick up the tab? Tell us what you are offering in exchange for docking to help those poor souls trapped on the ships.

  62. Catalina serna March 31, 2020 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Is there any way I can help or relief someone’s situation?

  63. Catalina serna March 31, 2020 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    It is a shame that the government of San Andrés and Dimar (Colombia) have refused to collaborate with this cruise company. As a Colombian citizen and professional of the hospitality and tourism industry I really do not understand this kind of decisions.
    I feel sorry my country do not understand that we are experiencing a humanitarian crisis in the world. We need more love and empathy

  64. David Jenkinson March 31, 2020 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    We were on the Zaandam for the same cruise a year ago. The crew were amazing and we had a great time. Our sincere best wishes to the passengers and crew and hope all come out of this OK.
    We have two smaller cruise liners parked in the Hauraki Gulf at the moment. The Vollendam was there earlier.
    David and Lyn Jenkinson

  65. Mary Bateman March 31, 2020 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    I am embarrassed and ashamed at our states lack of compassion . I am sorry for all the passengers and crew who are in the middle of this due to no fault of their own. Bless you Holland America you really are the BEST!

  66. Shirley Peacock March 31, 2020 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    My husband and I have been on several cruises with Holland America because my husband is one of your chaplains. We have enjoyed each cruise with meeting people from around the world to going places that we would never be able to go without him being a chaplain for you! I am appalled that no one will work with you to get people home or let you dock to get needed supplies! Had you been allowed to dock, those four people may still be alive! Unfortunately for you, people will probably sue the cruise line for a situation that you had no control! I really hope that doesn’t happen, but shame on them if it does! We love Holland America! Hopefully, we will get to sail with you again!

  67. MJ Blaquiere March 31, 2020 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    I am sympathetic to the serious concerns of the residents and government officials of South Florida who are already experiencing overwhelming demands on their communities, and hospitals, shortages of medical supplies, and an enormous risk to medical personnel and first responders.

    I am also sympathetic to the Holland America crew and passengers many of whom are in serious need of medical attention, left stranded as a result of this terrible health crisis devastating our world today.

    Perhaps you should approached the Federal Government for permission to dock at one of the US military ports, rather than place further strain on ports in highly populated communities that have already been heavily hit by the virus.
    Just a thought…

    Prayers for the best and speediest resolution to this terrible dilemma.

  68. Tom &Jeanne Gaunt March 31, 2020 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Our Holland World cruise ended early in Fremantle Australia recently. I can’t thank the Holland America staff for all they did to make it possible for us to get home. If it weren’t for the successful negotiations for the Amsterdam to port in Fremantle we’d still be onboard. In times like these it’s more comfortable and safer being home. Holland America’s compassion for their cruisers and their welfare is an example we could all learn from. Thank you!

  69. Aida Spradlin March 31, 2020 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Not sure that flying anyone back without quarantine is correct but our very expensive world class navel ports could be used to get drs and supplies to these folks who are everyone’s responsibility!

  70. Lindsey Lake-Grange March 31, 2020 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Please get our friends home.

  71. Pauline bouchard March 31, 2020 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    And now where the both ship will going?

  72. Linda Farrington March 31, 2020 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    As a person who has traveled on about 19 cruises…many with Holland America, my heart goes out to crew and passengers . I have always found Holland America to be the best at what it does and some day hope to go again. You are doing a great job in these terrible times and I’m hoping everyone gets home safely.

  73. Sue March 31, 2020 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I commend HAL for their efforts in dealing with this crisis. It is too bad that the President did not invest money into Puerto Rico to get their electricity operating. It could have been set up as a temporary hospital wards to check everyone out and isolate those that needed to recover. Hang in there HAL we still love you the best!

  74. Anonymous March 31, 2020 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Why not take your ships to their flagged countries? You “pay” taxes there – surely they won’t turn you away.

  75. Graeme Brooker March 31, 2020 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Mr. Ashford,

    This is an extremely well throughout and written statement and I applaud you for it and agree while heartedly with you.

    The passengers on the Zaandam boarded the ship prior to Covid-19 being identified as an pandemic and prior to it being detected in the countries that they would be visiting on this cruise. The fact that those same countries, who would have gladly take the money from the passengers, as tourists, as well as from Holland America in port and docking fees then firmly closed the ports to even a humanitarian relief request is, quite simply, shocking.

    Port Everglades is extremely reliant on the cruise industry for both direct revenue from the cruise lines themselves as well as tourist income from the many passengers who transit the area on an annual basis to board the ships, not only of Holland America and the subsidiary companies of Carnival, but Royal Caribbean, its subsidiaries and many other lines. The simple fact that the mayor of Fort Lauderdale and, indeed, the governor of Florida are making every attempt to block both the Zaandam and Rotterdam from docking at Port Everglades is disgraceful and they should, as well as the residents of Fort Lauderdale who are creating and hyping the issue, be completely ashamed of themselves.

    Now is the time for them to step up and use some of the revenues that you and fellow CLIA members have poured into the area to assist with the humanitarian effort that is required at this point.

    This should be a turning point for CLIA members and a definite eye opener. If the city of Fort Lauderdale does not want to support the Zaandam and the Rotterdam during their time of need, then maybe the member companies should look at shutting down their operations out of Port Everglades on a permanent basis and moving elsewhere, like say the port that accepts the Zaandam and Rotterdam.

    I hope for all on board that some resolution will come so that this horrible situation can come to a close.

  76. Cellina Mac March 31, 2020 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Very very sad. My heart goes out to all stuck on board. Prayers prayers and more prayers ♥️

  77. Margie March 31, 2020 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    I am very disappointed that our Florida ports may be turning Holland America away. Do they not consider how many local jobs HAL provides and how many millions of dollars of supplies are purchased in the US to service the passengers many of whom are Americans and even Floridians. They need to make a way for the ship to dock and the passengers to receive the level of service onshore that HAL provides to every passenger on every cruise every time!

  78. Valerie Newitt March 31, 2020 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    I have great respect for HAL and the deepest sympathy for your situation. I agree that you must be able to make port entry, and the country of residence for the majority of passengers makes sense. My heart bleeds for crew dealing with healthcare issues way beyond anyone’s pay grade. I do include you all in my thoughts and prayers and hope you will find a quick and safe resolution.

  79. Joyce Holden March 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    As a past employee for Metro my heart goes out to the passengers on the Zaandam and Rotterdam. Hopefully this situation can be solved soon, they need to get home.

  80. Gary Hoover March 31, 2020 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    God bless you sll???

  81. Marilyn Tanya McKay March 31, 2020 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    You are right, what has happened to the world’s compassion. This does hit close to home. We were supposed to be on the Zaandam and managed to cancel about the first or second week of March. This doesn’t mean are hearts don’t go out to those unfortunate who are currently traveling on the ship. The world cannot leave these passengers and crew held hostage without support and medical attention! We have travelled on many HAL cruises and always felt the service was superb. Holland America you are trying your best with your hands tied. Your company is based out of Seattle, Washington. As a US based company, the USA government should do it’s best to support you and help get your passengers home and treat those that need medical attention promptly. My heart goes out to all involved.

  82. Patricia Brockway March 31, 2020 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    My husband and I boarded the Zaandam cruise in So.America for a 22 day journey to Antarctica. It was a beautiful 3 week cruise. On February 23 we departed the Zaandam and flew back to our Florida home. Many continued their So.American journey further, ending with passage through the Panama Canal and departure to home from Ft.Lauderdale, Florida. I feel embarrassed to admit that we are are lifelong Florida residents. All my life we always reach out to others in times of storm and other difficulties – opening our homes and hearts to those in need. Gov.DeSantis, with proper precautions in place these people can be safely moved to prearranged transportation and make the journey home. Please don’t lock them out.

  83. Lindy Lee March 31, 2020 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    I’m praying for your safety and hope someone in the US will step up and get people off the ship. At least to quarantine on a government facility.
    This is a disgrace to the human race.

    Bring supplies at least.

    Disappointed in Florida, not having beds in 6 months , did you really say that.

    Good Luck.

  84. Sandi March 31, 2020 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    Please let the ships get to port and help these passengers and crew. I know there are many of us who have cruised and it could have been us. Just wrong day. Wrong time. I applaud all the cruise lines and staff are doing!

  85. Zita Keeley March 31, 2020 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    It’s impossible to imagine what you and your team have been going through with this horrific ordeal.
    Thank you for sharing this and for your hopes for humanity to step up.
    All our prayers ? Zita & Patrick

  86. Peter and Phyllis Schiff March 31, 2020 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Correction to previous reply:

    November 2020 Nieuw Amsterdam transatlantic [not transpacific] cruise.

  87. Alex Gukool March 31, 2020 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    My brother is on board of Rotterdam., what guarantees you give his life/health is not in danger ? Bearing in mind you have decided to move people from Zandaam to Rotterdam.. what guarantee you give as a responsible employer he will be back home safe and sound.

    I am keen to know what is your commitment on security and safe returning of employees ?

  88. Peter and Phyllis Schiff March 31, 2020 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Dear Mr Ashford:

    In case our earlier reply did not go through:

    Thank you for your continuing blog communications regarding passengers and crew still at sea on Zeendam and Rotterdam. As HAL guests over the years, we have seen firsthand how officers and crew respond promptly, compassionately, and effectively to the medical needs of all onboard.

    The day after our upcoming April 25 Westerdam transpacific cruise was cancelled, we booked a November 2020 Nieuw Amsterdam transpacific cruise. We will continue to be loyal HAL voyagers.

    We hope that all those on Zeendam, Rotterdam, and all other cruise ships at sea return to their respective homes safe and well.

    Thanks again, to you, and all those at HAL for your humanity and expertise–now and always.

  89. Blanchie March 31, 2020 at 11:51 am - Reply

    I am very saddened by what is happening to these pax and crew members aboard these ships. I hope that Florida finds it in their hearts and let these two ships dock So I truly hope God helps them through this voyage and may they too get back home safe to their love ones. We love you Holland America you will be back. Love to all the officers and crew members that make this cruise line the BEST. ❤️❤️❤️

  90. Jane & Bob Long March 31, 2020 at 11:48 am - Reply


  91. Jane & Bob Long March 31, 2020 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Prayers for everyone.

  92. Sheila Greenberg March 31, 2020 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Well said , thank you for all you are attempting to do for your passengers.

    My husband and I are booked on a cruise in September so we are watching carefully but would really like to set sail on the Westerdam out of Vancouver.
    Do your best to stay healthy.

  93. Robert Schaefer March 31, 2020 at 11:37 am - Reply

    You have done a wonderful job during difficult times.

  94. Robert Schaefer March 31, 2020 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Well done

  95. Steve Lough March 31, 2020 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Thank you for speaking out. We were on the Zaandam S.America/Antarctica cruise last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it is outrageous that countries are denying entry to ships when they have been happy to take the tourist dollars that cruise ships brought to their economies. I also question what happened to some of the “law of the sea” norms to help any ship in distress. When this is past, the cruise industry will have re-consider where it sails and/or secure legal agreements with all countries to support passengers in emergencies. We have a HAL cruise planned for this summer that will likely be cancelled but if it is we will be re-booking for next year. Thank you

  96. Lynn Daum March 31, 2020 at 11:26 am - Reply

    We disembarked from Eurodam in San Diego March 1st. Even then I witnessed the steps Holland America was taking to keep crew and passengers safe. We had an incredible cruise.
    Thank you for your updates and this introspective piece. Hopefully others will read it and reconsider their actions and responses to pleas for help.

  97. Zsanett Zsurkan March 31, 2020 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Dear Company,

    I was reading this article and I felt endlessly sad for you … I am a singer working for Tui Cruises and we are anchoring near Tenerife for over 3 weeks now. I feel so blessed we were able to send our last guests home safe but the crew remained on board and all what we can do is to pray to stay healthy and hope that time and that awful virus will pass as soon as possible. Please be strong because anyone of us could be in the same situation! I wish you all the possible strength and I send you all my prayers to get through this particularly difficult time!

    Best regards, Zsanett Zsurkan singer Mein Schiff 3

  98. Jay pobliner March 31, 2020 at 11:09 am - Reply

    HAL is doing a fantastic job all the others should be ashamed of themselves

  99. John Rahkola March 31, 2020 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Because countries have denied your ships permission to access ports for supplies and medical assistance will you still be able to enter ports in the USA and its territories such as Porto Rico US & VirginIslands? If ports such as Port Everglades deny entry where will you go. Navel bases are government property so perhaps the president could order the ships be allowed to disembark their guests there.
    I’m sure that you have given this much thought and have been exploring every option but I just felt that I should share my thoughts.
    I’m a 5* gold member and appreciate everything that HAL is doing.

  100. Kimberly Kapusty March 31, 2020 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I’m afraid Holland America has to accept partial blame for their guests still cruising. Instead of offering last minute incentives, (room credits) to encourage guests not to cancel their cruises due to the flue outbreak they should have been offering full refunds/future cruise credits to discourage cruise travel. Holland America line has constant flue issues/quaranteens, some severe on board their ships. Holland America knows that viruses run rampant onboard ships and took NO steps to prevent this from happening, and no steps to protect their passengers.

  101. Meredith Furman March 31, 2020 at 10:55 am - Reply

    HAL is the most wonderful cruise line. We cancelled our August 2020 trip due to my immune deficiency issues, but will book again because of the customer care, professional and humanitarian treatment extended to all. Bless you.

  102. Bruce Palmer March 31, 2020 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Is there a list of countries turning you away? I am not a cruise person (tried it but not really what I want), but would happily stay away from countries that like the tourist money but won’t help out when times are tough. If they won’t help you as an industry, I certainly don’t want to risk going there as an individual.

  103. Hugh & Natalie Park March 31, 2020 at 10:43 am - Reply

    We are grateful to Holland America for all they do for their passengers. We have been loyal followers of this line since 1991 when we began cruising. Recently, our 44 day cruise on the Koningsdam was cancelled. And although we were disappointed we applaud HAL for making a difficult decision. When this is over we hope to continue cruising as long as we can. Bravo to Holland America, we stand by you all the way.

  104. Anna Jonah March 31, 2020 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the information. We have friends who were on the Zaamdam and are now on the Rotterdam so we are very interested in keeping up to date on their progress and when we might see them get back in Canada.

  105. Howard Schlesinger March 31, 2020 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Reminds me of the TV show THE LAST SHIP.
    Shame on you Florida!

  106. Robert mcmaster March 31, 2020 at 10:30 am - Reply

    This is very shameful for the governor of FLORIDA to denying this ship to dock or provide assistance.The cruise industry provides thousands of job in the state via tourist , hotels Ect when this is over I for one who is a cruiser on Holland I will think twice about staying in Florida.

  107. Robert Thompson March 31, 2020 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Would it be possible to arrange with the governor of Florida to allow the Zaabdam to dock while quarantining those onboard for 2 weeks. Some of the passengers are Floridians. Many are U. S. citizens. The U. S. government sent planes to China. There are military bases which could hold the passengers in quarantine. Perhaps those passengers with U. S. citizenship should file a class action lawsuit against the state of Florida. We love HAL

  108. Shelly scott-young March 31, 2020 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Please help these poor people!! Even to allow them to dock and get them the medical attention they need and have a right to! Follow the canadian example-a safe but careful exit from the it’s the only and the right thing to do!

  109. Matt March 31, 2020 at 10:06 am - Reply

    I can’t imagine why you didn’t stop all Cruises. With the knowledge of the Diamond Princess you still wanted to make money. I think you should be paying for the hospital bills. Let the people off at several ports so as to not cause a big impact in one city.

  110. Sharon Haars March 31, 2020 at 9:40 am - Reply

    It is absolutely unconscionable to think that the Florida Port Authority would turn down a good neighbor who has embarked and disembarked cruise passengers for many, many years. The Florida Everglades Port Authority is a quasi-governmental “public” authority, meaning the people, the public on those ships need immediate attention and assistance – NOW! For the Florida Governor Rick DeSantis to say he doesn’t want this problem is unthinkable and not humitarian, he has”no sole”. If he or anyone in the governing bodies had a family member on board they’d think differently. This bad relationship is all over the news and those of us that cruise frequently with Holland America won’t forget you Florida and the poor decision you’ve made, as you have forgotten us!!

  111. Angela Santiglia March 31, 2020 at 9:40 am - Reply

    I am sorry to hear of the unfortunate circumstances of both Holland America and the guests on the ship, however, it was a very poor decision to take this sailing in view of the situation we were in at the time of the sailing. We all knew it was a very risky time to go anywhere especially after all that we witnessed on TV on the Princess Diamond. The cruise industry is scarred for a very long time to come. $$$ cannot be the the first consideration in business. We will all pay for these mistakes made in our industry. I have been in the retail end of the industry for more than 40 years and I have clients booked on River cruises for the end of May. Does anyone know what condition the world will be inn at the end of May???? I advised them to wait and see. We will probably rebook for Sept 2020. The safety and enjoyment of the client is priority.

    Thank you for the opportuity to express my opinion.

    Angela Santigia,m Pres.
    Destination Paradise Int’l Inc
    Boca Raton, FL 33486

  112. Paula Wilcox March 31, 2020 at 9:17 am - Reply

    I was not aware of the closure of so many ports. My prayers are with all the crew and passengers on both of your ships. All of you deserve to be home with your families or being taken care of in a medical facility. My thoughts are with all of you.

  113. Kathleen Dawson March 31, 2020 at 9:12 am - Reply

    This ordeal is heartbreaking we cruised on the Oosterdam (Mexican Riviera) in March our first real cruise. I can’t say enough on how well the crew kept us all sanitized making sure we sanitized our hands, not to touch food in buffets, constantly wiping things clean and on top of that being so gracious and happy! Our little butler was always so friendly with a big smile. I wish you all the best in these hard times and look forward to cruise with you again God Bless you all!

  114. Margaret Allen March 31, 2020 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Our thoughts & prayers are with the passengers, crew & their families at home. Covid is a very serious virus & as a result there has been a lot of panicking because governments were unprepared to deal with it. We are 3* mariners & find one of the best parts of cruising is meeting other passengers from many different countries. I’ll bet if your passenger list was made up of only people from Peru you would have had no trouble disembarking at the port in Peru. Governments are frightened that they won’t have enough help or medical supplies for their own people. Hopefully rational thought & compassion will emerge quickly & help your staff & crew get home to their loved ones.

  115. Carol beanland March 31, 2020 at 8:58 am - Reply

    I have travelled on 3 of your ships and found them excellent I hope you all return home safely Here in Australia we have faced crisis after crises over the last 12months in some areas but not like this pandemic My thoughts will be with you.

  116. Toni Hamoen March 31, 2020 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Thank you for this very articulate letter. I have cruised over 120 days with Holland America and I know the care of the wonderful crew.
    I plead to the powers that be to allow these ships to dock in port and allow safe transport for passengers and crew home to their families. Not being allowed to dock is outrageous and definitely non-humanitarian.
    I pray for resolution. Please keep sending letters to be public because what we do hear is filtered by the media.

  117. Raymond miller March 31, 2020 at 8:50 am - Reply

    It’s a horrible disgrace and at best criminal malice. If I were Holland I would tell Port Everglades to go to hell when cruising returns to normal and dock in another port. Where the hell is our do nothing congress? Is Nancy Pelosi praying for these people?

  118. Fred A March 31, 2020 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for your words and actions to protect passengers and crew. Part of the solution should be to be transparent about decision making my authorities. Their decisions should have move than short term consequences. Lack of accountability is part of it. In the USA our fragmented, piece meal approach to containment contributed to confusion in our ports, The White House says one thing, CDC another as well as Governors, and local Port Authority make independent decisions. HAL and Carnival Corp can no longer rely on these systems to guide business decisions and safeguard guests. Just as Carnival Corp invested after the Costa Concordia tragedy, it must do so again to endure the safety of passengers, crew and the brands. Sad day when the processes systematically fail as well as our leaders fumble. Thankfully, on the Maasadam we got lucky and were blessed by a seasoned, dedicated Captain, officers, medical team and crew that kept us healthy and safe.
    Keep the voice loud to facilitate change and so we can expect others to do their jobs humanly and rationally. Thank you

  119. Allan Benson March 31, 2020 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Why were charter flights not used to return Grand World Voyage passengers to its original port. The trauma that has resulted in the find your Own way Home attitude was so painful and lacked caring. The staff on board were amazing but with their hands tied could only do as ordered. We the passengers will suffer for many years to come. Response to this would be appreciated.

  120. Geoff Barron March 31, 2020 at 7:36 am - Reply

    You are asking for compassion when you sailed that ship knowing what would happen if this disease was on board. We all saw that Princess ship in Japan. The Zaandam should have never left port. Holland America chose money over lives. I bet there was never a thought to refunding money and canceling the cruise. A refund is a dirty word in the cruise industry.
    This boat sailed with no thought to the misery this disease would inflict on its passengers. You knew Covid-19 kills and you still sailed. Shame on you Holland America. I will be sure that none of the people I care about ever sail on your ships. I will post this comment on every news site I see an article about the people you have killed.
    You knew of this for over 30 days and sailed anyway.

  121. Charles Arend March 31, 2020 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Thank you HAL, we have been on the Westerdam and are grateful for all this company did for us, and also to Cambodia, this poor Country that did not react as “my Country first”

  122. Anna March 31, 2020 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Shelter in place and expect shortages and hardship is the message wherever you are living. Many are at risk, already suffering, dying or dead. The dead are in beds of trucks being moved by forklifts in New York.

    Mexico leader is reflective of trumpism with his head in the sand. So another disaster looms nearby.

    There is tremendous humanity but it will not be there for everyone.

  123. Peter-Bas Maaskant March 31, 2020 at 6:52 am - Reply

    Straight from the heart and so true. Well said.

    I do hope the authorities will use their minds and hearts and give the ships permission to dock. We pray for all the people on board.

    May God bless you all. From Rotterdam with deepest regards.

    NB: no solution at this moment but I am sure Dutch authorities will welcome both ships as Rotterdam is still their home port.

  124. J Lizardi March 31, 2020 at 6:46 am - Reply

    Definitely, something to bring up back to the world once all this is over and they start praising themselves as heroes. Shame on us ALL.
    Now and seriously, have you approached Cuba? And, isn’t this something for the United Nations to get involved with?

  125. Gerben Van Duyl March 31, 2020 at 6:26 am - Reply

    Hi, have you considered docking into Cuba and arranging evacuation from there? Cuba has excellent medical capabilities, they are known the be very hospitable. This may be in fact a better option than the USA, which is in disarray itself. Of course you would have to maintain full isolation, board charter flights directly, etc.

  126. Pat belus March 31, 2020 at 6:22 am - Reply

    United States of America’s needs to stand up and get all the people off the ship including the crew who have worked so hard. This could have been me and my family and friends and I cannot imagine what all are going through including officers and staff. As I have cruised over 55 cruises my heart breaks for the needless suffering going on. Please help, how about the navy ship, why cannot not help?

  127. Bill jackson March 31, 2020 at 6:21 am - Reply

    How sad it is to read about the current situation that has befallen Zaandam.
    Bravo to HAL for all they have done. Forever my favourite cruise line.
    It is beyond belief that countries,especially home countries can forget basic human compassion at times like these.
    Show humanity now.

  128. Gloria Kops March 31, 2020 at 6:12 am - Reply

    As a 4 star I find this heartbreaking. Knowing HAL, I am sure you are doing everything possible. My sympathy to passengers and crew, and I look for my sailing days again. May the wind be at your back. God Bkess.

  129. Richard Hodgkinson March 31, 2020 at 5:40 am - Reply

    See my post on Facebook
    Richard Hodgkinson
    Retired seafarer
    Regarding the Zaandam

  130. Kenneth Reed March 31, 2020 at 5:37 am - Reply

    I feel so sorry for the people that are stuck on both the Hal ships, I have cruised on Rotterdam before & enjoyed it. I can understand why why folks don’t want the ships docking in their ports but the majority of the passengers are Americans and our government made a special effort to bring home Americans from other countries and should make some kind of arrangement for the people on the ships

  131. Irene Mart March 31, 2020 at 5:33 am - Reply

    This appears to be very frustrating and when people need help no one is willing to help yet we have been welcome at ports for years spending our money and they were more than willing to take but when we needed help none was given. I have taken many cruises and this is hard to take from all of these ports AMEN

  132. Alice F Cambria March 31, 2020 at 5:29 am - Reply

    I cannot imagine myself and my husband or myself in these circumstances, no way – I pray and this is ALL we can do – but lots of prayers going out – bless all aboard – Alice Cambria

  133. Rene March 31, 2020 at 5:15 am - Reply

    I will pray your needs will be met. HAL is an amazing company that care for their passangers. We’ve cruised with them a few times

  134. Stephanie Burns March 31, 2020 at 4:49 am - Reply

    Well said. We were guests on the previous cruise on Zaandam and disembarked on March 7th. Nobody had any idea how events would unfold.
    Our hearts go out to all the passengers and crew on both ships. Please send them our love.

  135. Sarah Davies March 31, 2020 at 4:44 am - Reply

    My parents who are almost 80 years old, were on Zaandam, and now on Rotterdam. This was a special 80th birthday trip to an area of the world that they were desperate to visit, if they had cancelled they would have lost all of the cost of the trip which they could ill afford to do. The Covid 19 spread has been so rapid that no one predicted this horror story. The lack of support and assistance provided at this difficult time by the ports along their route has shocked and dismayed me. Thank you Panama for allowing them to pass through the canal, we had had the most stressful and upsetting time not hearing from our parents for days, technology is not a strength! It is such a horrendous time in the world for everyone and whilst no one wants to take unnecessary risks we do all need to pull together to help one another. Please help get everyone back to their families and friends.

  136. Werner Verbrugge March 31, 2020 at 4:40 am - Reply

    I belief Holland America Line, countless people at the company’s shoreside offices, and the fully dedicated crew of all ranks aboard ms Rotterdam and ms Zaandam, are trying to making the impossible possible in taking care of their passengers still at sea.
    The shameless attitude of many, at ports that use to welcome the same ships and more, earning part of their living from it, is thought provoking !
    I rest hopeful with you, that somewhere someone will follow the exemplary lead by the Panamanian People.
    Holland America Line, go strong, go safely. My Great Admiration !

  137. John McGrath March 31, 2020 at 4:40 am - Reply

    This is a shocking situation for passengers and crew aboard these vessels, for centuries now those at sea and in peril have been offered help and assistance of every kind, this should be no different. It’s a poor reflection to ports refusing a safe refuge.

  138. Carol Perry March 31, 2020 at 4:18 am - Reply

    It was only a once on your line. It is our low NZ dollar level which is not up with the big spenders. However it was perfect for our budget we loved Holland America Line . It was a one off wonderful Scandinavian holiday. Your brand suits us and if there is ever an opportunity to do it again without doubt it would be with Holland America. Hoping that you can continue to make one off people like us want more…. we are hoping that Zaandam gets home safely .

  139. Anne Saunders March 31, 2020 at 4:12 am - Reply

    hollandamerica …. this response by your president … confirms my faith in your awesome cruise company… I supported and promoted your cruise line pre pandemic, and will definitely support post pandemic. What a thoroughly decent attitude of concern and care… wishing all your employees a safe journey through this horrible time. We look forward to our next cruise with you on the other side.. Anne & Ross Saunders

  140. Margot Ladeur March 31, 2020 at 4:06 am - Reply

    Very well spoken mr. Ashford. Our son is on board of the Zaandam and we know that all of you at HAL are working 24/7 to make things right. But when the world is ruled by fear it is very hard to get things done. Therefore know that we think of you, that you are in our prayers and a little candle is burning for the guests and crew on the Zaandam. Stay safe and please keep up the good work.
    With kind regards, Margot Ladeur.

  141. Shawn Spencer March 31, 2020 at 3:44 am - Reply

    The plight of your crews and passengers is a sad but true commentary on this new world order and I think we all know that started before COVID19. I hope the good folks in Broward County will help you get people off the ship and onto flights home wherever possible. Vaya Con Dios.

  142. Pauline Revell-Bowles March 31, 2020 at 3:34 am - Reply

    Wishing you all a speedy resolution to this awful crisis. We have distant cousins on board, last we heard they are healthy. Can’t imagine the nightmare all of you are going through and hope you all remain well and return home to loved ones Very soon!

  143. Pauline Lucarz March 31, 2020 at 3:29 am - Reply

    I have cruised many times, on many cruise lines. If I found myself in this poition I would always hope it was with a Holland America ship as their customer service, health and safety approach and caring attitude cannot be beaten at sea.

  144. Stacey Batt March 31, 2020 at 2:59 am - Reply

    I am heartbroken hearing of the trials these two ships, the crew and the passengers have had to endure. To watch your loved ones die because a country has closed its borders to you is unimaginable!

    What can I do as a Travel Advisor, citizen and human being to help the situation at hand? I love cruising and Holland America! I was on the same dance floor with you, Mr. Ashford during the Inaugural sailing of the Koningsdam out of Florida!

    Could I send messages to the crew onboard? Please advise as I hate to sit back and do nothing.

    Thank you for sharing this story! What other ships are stuck out there?

    Thank you for taking such good care your passengers and my clients always.


    Stacey Batt

  145. Raj Mungra March 31, 2020 at 2:32 am - Reply

    My wife is onboard Zaandam, working as Massage Therapist,Sir , frankly l feel assure she and all crews and guests are in good hands,an bravest members,staffs,,, supporting you.,it seems a test from the almighty,God bless,stay Safe, Courage,,,, Thanks

  146. William Allen March 31, 2020 at 2:07 am - Reply

    We were on Amsterdam and now home for 7 days clear. I pray for those still at sea. And, despite my fears of air travel and risks it presents, I know now you acted in our best interest. We are at home; thank you. Who would have ever imagined we would leave our people behind.
    I pray that President Trump will see the wisdom of being his people home and providing for those others who find themselves in harms way.
    Respectfully, William & Nancy Allen

  147. Gary Marsh March 31, 2020 at 2:02 am - Reply

    When this is all over as it will be one day, remember who helped and more importantly who did not. They will want the ships to visit again, will want the income it brings. Remember the compassion they didn’t show when fellow human beings needed help.

  148. Wendy Busch March 31, 2020 at 1:54 am - Reply

    We are currently stranded in melaque mexico after two of our flights were cancelled. Now booked for may 6th out of puerto vallarta. We are safe and we have access to medical care if needed.i cannot imagine nor can i understand why you are not permitted to dock. We arrived here january 2nd and the virus was in china. Here we are three months later its world wide! Shame on ports for denying docking. Please get these people home to their loved ones or at least get them on dry land!

  149. Sharon Lepin March 31, 2020 at 1:38 am - Reply

    We were aboard the Rotterdam when the cruise was terminated in Puerto Vallarta.
    I must say that our short time on board we were treated so well!
    When the captain made the announcement of the termination it brought tears to my eyes how caring and sole full
    he sounded.
    What a huge decision for him to make!
    The crew were so helpful with arranging a flight home for each and everyone.
    The all remained composed.
    My husband and I are so thankful. We made it home just in time.
    Thank you and God Bless all of you

  150. Madelyn Lane March 31, 2020 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Thank you for all the updates. I pray for all the people on the ships. They need to get home and care. Thank goodness they are on HAL where their well-being is a first priority. Thanks for doing everything you can.

  151. Craig Currier March 31, 2020 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Dear Mr Ashford
    I am only one person living in Alaska. Is there anything I can do to help the current situation.
    Please let me know, I am willing to help anyway I can.

    Craig Currier

  152. Pat Petrie March 31, 2020 at 12:35 am - Reply

    I have been aboard
    Many Holland America cruises including the one to South America. I have been following your voyage on Facebook and find it so upsetting that no one will let you disembark in their country. I know this is uncharteted territory for all! My Prayers are with all of you on your safe return home!

  153. Bill and Diana Sweey March 31, 2020 at 12:19 am - Reply

    So very well written and I am ashamed of the ports who dented your entry and especially under these rare circumstances. We were passengers on the Rotterdam and are very aware of the above information. We witnessed it. We have friends who are crew on the Maasdamn and aware of their concern to disembark. HAIL to HAL we think you did a more than the call of duty not only arranging our flights home but the crew had a positive and caring concern for each passenger and their particular grief with this unfortunate change of their cruise.
    Many thanks and much appreciation.

  154. Anquanie McSwain - State Farm Agent March 31, 2020 at 12:18 am - Reply

    Reading this article brings tears to my eyes, I live by the motto “like a neighbor…is there” because of what I do. But I do it because I genuinely believe it. This is very heartbreaking. If I can do anything please let me know. Perhaps we should be petitioning on your behalf? I’m not sure- but something.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the two ships and others in this situation. May resolution be brought swiftly. Please be safe.

  155. Judith Kerschner March 31, 2020 at 12:12 am - Reply

    It is disgraceful for these countries to refuse these ships. Ports make a lot of money from the cruise industry. You would think that they would feel obligated to offer clearance during a Humanitarian Emergency situation.

  156. Michael March 31, 2020 at 12:08 am - Reply

    I would love to be on a medical strike team to help these people. SIGN ME UP

  157. Lorraine Belcourt March 31, 2020 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Well stated HAL! The United States and Canada need to let your ships docked so all of your passengers and staff can receive medical aid if necessary! Staff should be checked and if possible fly directly home!

  158. Mike Carroll March 30, 2020 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    I am appalled at the lack of concern and compassion for the passengers and crews shown by the leaders of nations around the world. The passengers and crew, I’m sure feel abandoned, angry and hopeless right now. I will contact my my representatives demanding that the US Government render all assistance without regard to nationality of passenger, crew or ship’s flag.

  159. Randy Knox March 30, 2020 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    I agree that provision should be made for the passengers and crew in a near port in a manner that will protect the health of local people . This is a humanitarian concern and should not be determined by unfounded fears.

  160. Dr linda steele March 30, 2020 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    I need help getting my full refund for my cruise on zuiderdam booked for March 29th through Panama Canal. I cancelled and then a week later Holland America cancelled the cruise. I only got a partial refund. Since holland America cancelled the cruise, I want my full refund.
    Dr linda steele

  161. Jane H Simpson March 30, 2020 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    I have such admiration for how you are handling this crisis…maybe the Antilles. Good Luck, and let us know if there is anything we can do. Regards, JS

  162. Dorothy March 30, 2020 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    I find it unthinkable that you have not been able to dock and disembark passengers. I commend you for all the precautions you are taking. We have made many family cruises with you and were booked to sail with you March 14th ( trip was cancelled)
    Your concern for the safety and well being of your passengers was not surprising. We have always been impressed by your excellance
    We hope to sail with you again when this pandemic is over and thank you for the memorable cruises we have had with you in the past years.

  163. Agnes Koster March 30, 2020 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    As a cruise person all I can say is there but for the grace of God go I. We must find a solution to this tragic problem and soon.

  164. William Jaeger March 30, 2020 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Well said, sir. I agree completely. The global response to this virus has been less than stellar. Thank you for being a voice of seasoned reason.

  165. Michelangelo H. Siscar March 30, 2020 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    I know how difficult it is to be stranded inside a ship together with sick and hungry passengers for days without assurance of any assistance from the nearest seaport that is closed. We pray for the assistance of a Good Samaritan. Amen.

  166. Deborah Stribling March 30, 2020 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    I whole heartedly agree. We must all show love and compassion at times like these.
    Of course proper precautions need to be observed; but this could have been done and the crew and passengers could have been safely allowed off the ships and quarantined till their flights home.
    I am truly sorry the passengers and crew have had to go through this.
    Kudos to you for moving people over to the other ship and trying to see that as many as possible had outside and veranda cabins.

  167. Michelangelo H. Siscar March 30, 2020 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    I personally sympathize with the President of Holland America Lines in his pleadings for humanitarian assistance to their guests in their ships caught with the unexpected rise of COVID-19 Threat in various countries in North and South America thereby preventing their Cruise Ships from docking to provide medical assistance to guests who were found to be sick of the influenza-like disease which requires fast medical assistance and treatment in hospitals. We pray immediate assistance be extended by locked down countries to those ships that are sending SOS for several days now as time is the essence in saving precious lives. Amen.

  168. Richard Zacharias March 30, 2020 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    Well said Mr. Ashford. First of all let us say how pleased we are to be associated with an organization such as Holland America. It makes us proud to have sailed with you. It is unfortunate that The Zaandam did not receive the consideration she should have. On one hand is is sad that her needs were refused by some. On the other we can understand that conditions being as they are now, there are those that believe their first efforts must go to their own. We hope that Zaandam will will soon be home again. Our own distress at this virus situation has been minimal to this point. We had a cruise scheduled with you this upcoming June that that will now not happen. We look forward to rescheduling in the future.

  169. Alan Rosenberg March 30, 2020 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    We are 3-Star Holland America Mariners. We’re heartbroken over the world-wide tragedy taking place, and our sympathies are with the families and friends who’ve lost loved ones. But we have faith in Holland America’s measures to deal with the situation as best they can, and we support their efforts and all their staff. We wish them the best.

  170. Linda Schrier March 30, 2020 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    I applaud Holland America to have the foresight in bringing another ship to help separate the healthy passengers from those who could have been exposed. This action should never have come to be if the ports or borders were not closed to the ship. It is sad to think that human kindness is not the first thought. My thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and the crew of Holland America cruise line. I hope for you safe travels home quickly and safely.

  171. Trevor Smith March 30, 2020 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    Ifeel for anyone on a cruise at the moment, but to turn the ship away is criminal. Best wishes to all and we look fwd to our next cruise when we are able to travel again.

  172. Vicki Tringrove March 30, 2020 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    I have saddened to see the way crew and passengers are being treated on cruise ships. My thought are with the crew, passengers and their families at home that must so worried. It like the world has lost its humanity and are these people like lepers. I am terribly sorry that the world appears to have turned their backs on you. I spent weeks crying about the cruel way people has been acting and about the deaths that is happening every where. My thoughts and prayers are with these people and I hope that your company and any other cruise will receive help soon.

  173. andy palomar March 30, 2020 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    I can just imagine the feeling of frustration by everybody affected by the situation on the Zaandam. Sparing no effort to resolve the problem, HAL should be commended for their actions. The old traditional SOS did not work against the effect of corona virus on human dignity as Mr. Ashford contended. I would hope everybody on the ship can be reunited with their families at the end of their journey without any further complications and difficulties.

  174. Wanda Luey March 30, 2020 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    Praying for all of the passengers crew and management of HAL God Bless all of you

  175. e costello March 30, 2020 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    He is right where did peoples compassion go. what if one of these people were from your family. i am ashamed to be an american and a floridian . i know people are scared but many are still not staying home so why pick on these passengers and crew. show mercy and grow up.

  176. Deborah M. Shorb March 30, 2020 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    As a resident of Florida, I have been appalled at the insensitivity of the response of the people of Florida. I cannot believe how they absolutely do not want the Zaandam to dock in Ft. Lauderdale. Their lack of humanity and compassion is upsetting . I believe that we should do everything we possibly can to help everyone on this ship.

  177. Wendy Bigler March 30, 2020 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Beautifully said. Thank you for doing all you can to take care of my Cousin, NH. You are doing all you can.

  178. Carol Bednarck March 30, 2020 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    The way in which some countries/ports are reacting is scary. If US ports deny entry I fear for all aboard both ships. As a past passenger of HA I in no way blame Holland America. I have followed several Amsterdam blogs until World Cruise ended in Fremantle. God bless the Aussies for letting the passengers debark. I pray that Florida will be as merciful.

  179. Grace Molina March 30, 2020 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Shame on us ?, unfortunately This virus had brought out the worst in people but also the best. We need a better world to come out of this , hoping and praying for it
    We will survive
    Holland America was my first cruise and immediately fell in love with cruising.
    My heart goes out for you, your crews and your passengers on this horrific times ?

  180. Victoria Awbrey March 30, 2020 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    To all concern: I am sincerely heartbroken by the dark circumstances HAL cruisers are currently facing. Since I am not a person of power nor influence, all I can offer is my sincere prayers to each and everyone aboard these 2 ships. Hoping that the best will come sooner.

  181. Randy Taylor March 30, 2020 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    I have cruised with Holland America on multiple occasions and have always found their concern for passenger safety to be their number one priority. Fear of the unknown causes people and I guess Governments to act in cowardly ways and it is a pity that Chile and Peru could not be counted on to help the Zaandam. Kudos to Panama. Am praying that the rest of the passengers and crew will be able to reach their destinations without further loss of life.

  182. Roberta March 30, 2020 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    We were to be on the March 15 44 days cruise which was canceled on the 13th you are to be commended all of your employees have worked diligently we trying to get your ships and passengers home and the rest of us rescheduled when all of this is over I applaud you for the work you’re doing look forward to cruising as Holland America Line is our favorite and we will be back

  183. Dianne Schmitt March 30, 2020 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    I love HAL. I am so sorry for these passengers and crew. As much as I have enjoyed cruising with HAL I know I would be scared if I were aboard now. Thank you for all your effort. I am praying for a just and compassionate solution.

  184. Jen March 30, 2020 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Thank you Orlando for taking the time to write this. I agree with everything you said. My parents are on-board the Zaandam along with 66 friends and guests who are now split between the two ships Zaandam and Rotterdam. I hope someone somewhere will take the lead and accept our request to let these ships dock so our family and friends can come home.

  185. Mary Dygert March 30, 2020 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    We are four-star Mariners we will cruise again when this crisis of the coronavirus is over…

  186. Betty Sdams March 30, 2020 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Mr. Ashford, my husband and I are Mariners, and love HAL. I have followed this situation from Day 1, and my heart goes out to you, your captains, medical staff and guests. I pray that the two ships will soon be granted admittance to a port and that you lose no more lives.

  187. Bernice Steinman March 30, 2020 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    This just breaks my heart. I am a loyal HAL passenger and have been on both those ships. I’m sure I know crew on both ships. We just got back from 4 weeks in South East Asia on the Westerdam in December/January. I spend the winters in Florida and I am hoping this Governor and other officials will have the humanity to allow the ships to disembark in Fort Lauderdale. However, having heard DeSantis’ comments, I am not sure. Is there anything that those of us on shore can do to help? Thoughts are with all of you.

  188. Robert Pressrich March 30, 2020 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    I sincerely hope the Zaandam and Rotterdam will be able to safely disembark their guests here in Florida.
    Florida has been the cruise capital of the world and needs to come to the aid and service of these cruise guests returning to the USA.

  189. Dena Serra March 30, 2020 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Best Wishes n Safe Journey Home to You Mr Ashford and to Crew, Guests on Zandam & Rotterdam for your remarkable co-operation, help & support for Health & Safety GodBless?you all; HAL the Best Wise Move Wisdom Prevails;Look forward to my future Cruise?️ ?

  190. Chrysantha Robinson March 30, 2020 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Our prayed are with all of you. May God cloak your ships with His grace and love with safe passage to Fort Lauderdale. May He watch over each and everyone on board both ships and bless all the ill with speedy recoveries.

  191. Susan March 30, 2020 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    Dear Mr. Ashford,

    I will be praying for all passengers and crew on your two ships. It reminds me of the St. Louis. (Jewish refugees turned away). I think you are exactly right that this will be a testament to our commitment to helping others in need. We must help. Find a way to separate levels of need, find several ports to disperse those in need into someone’s care, call on the U.S. military. We cannot leave these people to fate.

    Surely someone will step in. I pray it is sooner rather than later.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Dam ships (I’ve been on one). ??

  192. Joan March 30, 2020 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Having been on many cruises in my lifetime, I cannot imagine being
    Kept in my stateroom 24 hours a day. I feel for these people and pray that
    The ports in Florida will rethink the situation and permit these ships to
    Dock there. I feel sure that they can quarantine those that need to be and
    Get the remaining who are not Sick flown home.
    These people are in my prayers as I pray for their safety .

  193. Gail Pieper March 30, 2020 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Well said Orlando. My husband and I will be sailing with you again in 2021 all going well. Every journey we have taken with HAL has been unbelievable. We too are disappointed with the nations that have turned you away at this crucial time. You are number “1”.

    Keep on sailing!

    Kurt and Gail Pieper

  194. Kari H Allen March 30, 2020 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Dear Sir,
    I have followed your struggles which is no fault of HAL. To see the callous response from the world community is appalling. One takes off on a pleasant trip and something like this happens. Then nobody wants to step up and help. Is that a sign of today’s humanity? Selfishness and lack of empathy? I sure hope this is a lesson to be learned that it is a very small world and we’re all in it.
    Hopefully on day we will look back at this as another test for the human race.
    Honors to you and your sea and land crews. You do an amazing job at anytime. That is why we keep coming back.
    Thank you.
    Kari H Allen

  195. Joan March 30, 2020 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    I can’t even imagine being on a ship and not be able to move around. I have been on many cruises in my lifetime and feel so bad for these people. I sincerely hope that ports inFlorida will agree to let your ships dock. I feel that those in charge will have the compassion to do so. Like any of the other ships that had this problem earlier , arrangements were made and people were able to disembark ,be quarentened and then fly home.
    These people are in my prayers as I pray for their safety and pray they will make it home in good health.

  196. Kathleen March 30, 2020 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    To all who are caught up in this terrible situation, our prayers that a solution will be quickly forth coming. We are behind you ❤️❤️

  197. Patricia Kolar March 30, 2020 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    My husband and I just had our 13 day Panama Canal cruise cancelled today, so we very much sympathize with those persons currently stuck on these ships! How about they let your ships dock at either Miami or Fort Lauderdale and directly take everyone to the former Homestead Air Force base for triage, treatment if necessary and/or careful transport home if shown to be unaffected by this virus. My first child was born at this Base hospital in 1970, while her father was fighting in Viet Nam. I know the base isn’t an active base now, but if China can BUILD new hospitals and now New York in just days, I am sure this former AFB could be reopened and used for this purpose! Think about it! They did a similar thing in California a few weeks ago for a Princess Cruise ship!! Come on! Get those folks off that ship! Good luck and prayers to all !!

  198. Marie March 30, 2020 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Why not go to the port of the flag you fly?

  199. Judy Davenport March 30, 2020 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    We have enjoyed 4 cruises with HAL, and look forward to another time. Until then, we continue to pray that both ships will soon be welcomed into port and the guests and crew will be going home.

  200. Monica Luna March 30, 2020 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    You are a great leader! I worked for you on the world cruise and treated your wife. (I was the acupuncturist.) I just want to commend you and your integrity and your wisdom. I always felt well cared for and appreciated on HAL. God bless your efforts to care for those in your realm. Stay positive. There are angels all around.

  201. Debbie Haas March 30, 2020 at 9:46 pm - Reply


    You provide important context to our current situation and remind of us of our responsibilities to each other. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of those affected and as a lesson to us all.

  202. Elaine Law March 30, 2020 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Thank you Mr. Ashford
    My heart is breaking
    I am Canadian and am wondering if our government cannot send help in some way
    I am also a loyal Holland American client
    My husband and I just completed a 2 week Caribbean cruise on February 9th,and I promise you that we will be cruising with you again if we survive this crisis
    God Bless

  203. Karen March 30, 2020 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    I saddens me that my fellow Americans would do this. Surely someone somewhere in this great nation could find it in their heart to help these people. They deserve the same care that others are getting. I know they could be safely transported to the same hospitals that other people in the same situation are in. I hope this is resolved soon before we are the cause of someone’s death

  204. Marilyn McCall March 30, 2020 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Hubs and and I are faithful Mariners and did look forward to our August Baltic cruise. I’ve been taking your side on anti-cruise posts, namely Am. money to a Dutch line. My heart just breaks for the passengers and crews. We know how hard HAL crews work under normal situations. I can’t even imagine how hard they’re working as well as the fear they are working under; they too could get sick! I can only send you all our best and prayers that a solution is found soon! We will always stick w/ you, just not sure it will be this year if there are more cruises, we’re early 70s and still have our list! God bless sir.

  205. John Quinn March 30, 2020 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    My prayers for all on board.I enjoyed many a cruise on Holland American and they are a gracious and kind crew and company.Would anyone among us turn our backs on their plight.We are fighting a war against a virus. Will a wise man step forward.

  206. marjorie denton March 30, 2020 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Please God hear our prayer and save our world

  207. Roseann Bartok March 30, 2020 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Very well written. It brought tears to my eyes. I hope and pray Florida will help everyone get home or get the medical help they need. This is such a terrible event for the planet and human kind. I am grateful HAL is there to help those involved.

  208. Barbara Smerek March 30, 2020 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    I am in tears reading this. Why can’t these people be allowed off the ship and taken somewhere to be put into a 14 day quarantine then allowed to fly home.
    Why are the sick not allowed to be taken to a hospital,

  209. Jeff Farschman March 30, 2020 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Well said! I would hope that countries around the world would, without hesitation, find a way help people in desperate need of help. They should put themselves into the shoes of the men & women onboard these ships. Helping them is the only option in a civilized world!

  210. Robert Murphy March 30, 2020 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Countries should assist just as other ships would assist on an SOS. The Home countries of the passengers should also join in to assist in creating a “Safe Harbor” answer working to get thier nationals home.

  211. Catherine owen March 30, 2020 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    We are citizens of Florida, have been on the Zaandam, loved the boat and Holland America. We are dealing with a horrendous situation here, my husband and I are at risk for the virus because of our age and health conditions. We cancelled two trips we had planned for march because of the virus growing around the world.
    Maybe this trip should have been cancelled long ago, instead of being greedy and continuing on when you knew the virus was out there. You don’t pay any income taxes to the US because you register in other countries, maybe you should be going to those countries to help you.
    I want my husband to live through this.
    We already have more than we can handle in Florida

  212. Ute Bell March 30, 2020 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Hoping and praying that both ships can dock in Fort Lauderdale.

  213. Barb Hawkins March 30, 2020 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    A beautifully written article…brings me to tears that the people on your ship (now ships) are being treated like aliens. These are people from all different countries! People who have family and people who love them and need them at home with them. Please some country needs to let them come home. Port to airport not asking that much! At this time of seeing so much sickness and loss we need to see the good of humanity….I know it is still out there! All I can give right now is my love, hope and prayers. Wish you all to be home where you belong soon.

  214. cheryl schnell March 30, 2020 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Have future cruises been canceled? If so up to what date?

  215. Susan March 30, 2020 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    We live in an area close to Port Everglades. We in South Florida are considered a Covid-19 hotspot. People are afraid of more infection and not enough hospital beds. There is a hospital ship docked off New York. I wish same would be set up for Port Everglades. I would think they could get your passengers and crew tested now that
    5-minute and 15-minute tests have been developed. Since virus is very contagious, all clothing should be laundered before disembarking.
    If you can guarantee safety measures in place and the media does not distort the situation for politics, a solution should be in sight.
    This pandemic has affected our family. Our daughter had to cancel wedding planned for 3/28. She is a hospice nurse. Our son and his family in Brooklyn, NY are now recovering from Covid-19.
    We are thankful no pneumonia or hospitalizations for them.

  216. Louis Wassenaar March 30, 2020 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for those words. My wife and I had two cruises booked on the Veendam cancelled. Our prayers are that a cure will soon be found and we can re-book our cruises. With regards to all the ports being closed to ships at sea, this is unforgivable. I pray those in charge will re-think their actions and it will never happen again.

  217. Vicky Ferrasci March 30, 2020 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    They had set up for Princess in Oakland maybe they can do the same for you there. Our prayers are with you.

  218. Randie Blauth March 30, 2020 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    We have sailed Holland America many times. The old Westerdam was a favorite. The OLD Rotterdam even more so !But every Holland America ship has wonderful crew, rooms, food and amenities. To hear what has gone on to these poor passengers and wonderful crew and their ships is heartbreaking … that countries would so cold heartedly turn away these needy passengers and crew allowing them to literally languish on the ocean and pass the problem on to the next country is inexcusable! Against all semblance of decent humanity ! Praying that someone steps up !

  219. Paul Rowden March 30, 2020 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Very well put it is always the same the goals keep moving but my problem … yet when there is a natural disaster some of these countries take whatever they can get … I hope that the US authorities are more accommodating it seems a case of pull up the ladder Jack … I know the Captain of the ZADM and Yan will be doing his best to keep the crew morale up .. I pray that this will be resolved quickly

  220. Dr. Bruce Redding March 30, 2020 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    This situation you describe so fairly and impressively calls for love and grace. May the ports and countries that can help do so quickly.

  221. Jacqueline Mifflin March 30, 2020 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Dear Mr Ashford,
    I have travelled on Holland America Ships 30+ times, the Zaandam was my first cruise ever. I am left feeling very disappointed and disheartened after reading your letter, how could the world turn their backs on anyone.
    My prayers and thoughts go out to all the guests and crew on both the Zaandam and the Rotterdam, which really doesn’t help much I know. I know for a fact that HAL is doing everything it possibly can for their guests, I was on the Zaandam at 9/11, and everyone was amazing.
    I pray for the safe return of everyone to their homes and speedily so. I will continue to travel with Holland America once all this madness has settled.
    Thank you to EVERYONE at Holland America Line.

  222. Pat Holden March 30, 2020 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I’m so sorry! I’m a dedicated HAL customer and I’ve been on ships with norovirus and witnessed first hand just how hard the staff works. This isn’t your fault and when the air is clear, we will return to you! Stay healthy!

  223. Michael Thiele March 30, 2020 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    I have sailed on both the Zaandam and Rotterdam, I am embarrassed for the countries that are not willing to provide assistance, I am sure many of the guests on the ships are from those countries.

  224. Peter Vanderstelt March 30, 2020 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    When I fist heard of the ships being denied to dock in certain countries it reminded me of the ship loads of Jewish people being denied entering countries including the USA and Canada.
    My only word I can think of is shameful.
    We took our first cruise on Holland America in October 2018 and it was one of the best vacations ever. Once this crisis is over I would have no hesitation to take another cruise with Holland America.
    Peter V

  225. Diane Campbell March 30, 2020 at 8:57 pm - Reply

    Mr. Ashford,
    Thank you so much for the leadership and dedication to the Zaandam and Rotterdam crews and especially the guests!
    My husband and I did the South American cruise last February. We cruised on the Zaandam, the same ship we were on in 2016 during our Alaska trip.
    HAL has unanimously been our cruise partner since that amazing Alaska experience. I can’t imagine cruising with any other cruise line!
    And, as if these comments have been said numerous times by other guests, I have one more “special” experience to share.
    When we boarded Zaandam in Buenos Aires, we were greeted by Edward, our room steward. We ran to each other in the hallway, so excited to re-unite for our cruise. It was like a family reunion!
    Thank you again for sharing the plights of your guests. God be with you in these unforeseen times!

  226. Terri March 30, 2020 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    I’m so sorry this happened to the passenger and crew of these ships. Praying for the safe passage of everyone. Holland America has wonderful crew members and no one deserves this treatment. The humanitarian response is called for. I will email my congressman.

  227. Janice Rae March 30, 2020 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you to HAL for your care and compassion for your passengers and crew on all your ships. Praying that both ships will be allowed to dock safely and all will get home to loved ones.

  228. Ken Pearson March 30, 2020 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Hello Orlando Ashford,
    YOU have been great and I want to Thank You. We were friends of the past CEO and his wife and live south of Seattle. We are 5 star mariners and my Father was in Presidents Club. We love your company HAL and sincerely appreciate what YOU are doing.
    IF you need anything from my wife and I, let us know. These are sad times and adjustment for the cruising industry as well as the future life of the world is out there. We appreciate YOU and your staff and especially the employees, staff and crew. We know many of the Captains and crew of your ships and only want to say, THANK YOU.
    Ken Pearson
    5 Star Mariner and moving up to the Presidents Club.

  229. John Stevenson March 30, 2020 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Bang on Orlando! You have hit the nail squarely on the head. It is beyond belief that countries would block their ports, ultimately leaving cruise ships to find solutions to problems, which without question, are beyond their control, By so doing, they have virtually left the ships adrift at sea! I have trouble with the mindset behind countries coming to these non humanitarian decisions. It seems that during times of crisis humanitarianism takes a back seat. You/HAL are to be commended on your handling and conduct during these stressful times!!! Regards.

  230. Laura Kaufman March 30, 2020 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    As an American and a HAL Mariner i am so sad to hear of your dilema. While I have no suggestions to help you. Perhaps your American passengers should contact the State Department for assistance. Maybe the passengers should contact President Donald Trump wbo is a fabulous problem solver. We are praying for you all.

  231. Michael Sorrell - 4Star March 30, 2020 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Very, very comforting and helpful response from HAL. We are thankful for HAL canceling our Machu Picchu – Panama Canal Cruise. We are so looking forward to taking the same trip when this crisis has passed. I trust that HAL will be in touch with all passengers who did not want to Cancel, when the situation has improved and schedules are back in order.
    Thank you for being such a GREAT Cruise Line.

  232. Barbara Greiner March 30, 2020 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    OMG! My late husband and I took a number of HAL cruises and we loved every minute of them..
    I can’t believe the horror all of you aboard are suffering.. It’s hard to believe the inhumanity of those who keep so many of our citizens floundering at sea.. Something is very wrong with our government! My heart goes out to you all and my prayers that this comes to a happy ending soon!

  233. Brian Phillipo March 30, 2020 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    HAL is doing a great job for all the passengers and crew of the Zaandam, as well as those who were on other ships of the fleet.
    We look forward to sailing when this crisis is over.
    Keep up the good work.

  234. Margaret March 30, 2020 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Why can’t it be arranged for the ship to do like the cruise ship that docked in a port not a cruise terminal in California???
    God bless you HAL, all the passengers and the crew??????

  235. Dominique Nobbs March 30, 2020 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Wowwww, This is the best written letter ever! Heartfelt and to the point where it counts.
    Best said ever, perfect! It made me cry!
    my husband and myself take our hats off you. Salute you!
    Please know we totally support you Holland America!
    We sailed with Rotterdam ship and had to leave in PV Mexico, as no country would accept us do to the covid 19.
    You were all above and beyond for guests!
    Your crew was amazing!
    Thank you for caring! Your hard work!
    Thank you for this beautiful letter!
    Extremely well said,
    And hoping that will open some eyes for those countries that would not accept you , not help , In this frustrating, stressful urgent time!
    We will be back Holland America!
    Bless you all!

  236. ray hughes March 30, 2020 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Well spoken and a tragic commentary on those countries that will be begging you to return when when we get back to normal. As a well travelled senior I would like a list of those places that refused entry.

  237. Dave Elyea March 30, 2020 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    I cannot imagine the stress and pain that you have been and are going through with this unimaginable situation. I couldn’t be more proud of you and Holland America for the way you have endeavored to keep the passengers safe in the face of never before seen adversity. God bless you and your staff as you work to get everyone home safely and to keep Holland America cruising! I can’t wait to book my next cruise!

  238. Beverley May March 30, 2020 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your above statement – Im am appalled watching in Australia at the condemnation being directed towards the Cruise lines both here in Australia and Overseas. the spread was done by a person not a ship or cruise line. Even more appalled at the turning away of ships from Ports. I think your statement above needs to be shared on the Internet so everyone – not just those of us who will remain supportive to cruising with HAL – can read this. There has been very little input from cruise companies that we have seen here in Australia. Through all of this my thoughts have constantly been with the crew as my father was both a merchant and naval seaman and I understand the logisitics and fears around sailing. My thoughts and prayers go with them all as this would be a harrowing and fearful time for them all and their families waiting for them at home. I do wonder how the merchant lines are managing. I sincerely hope the international communities and governments can see their way through this as can all shipping companies throughout the world. We have booked to sail with HAL in 2021, and as far as I am concerned, will continue to cruise and look forward to doing so – hoping the virus runs itself out and we can see a full recovery for Cruise lines who I am sure are taking a significant hit now and in the future.

  239. TITIA KOOPMAN March 30, 2020 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Sensitive and caring response to a rapidly developing humanitarian crisis..
    Thank you, Mr. Ashford.

  240. Diann Gerbo March 30, 2020 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    How shameful for a country who has always prided itself on being kind, considerate and welcoming. Why can’t these passengers be quarantined for the standard 14 days on their arrival into port. This reminds me of the boatloads of Jewish people who were forbidden to land in America and returned to Europe where mist ended up in concentration camps. Shame on us

  241. Kim Michael Rolls March 30, 2020 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for that update and providing answers to the many question I had regarding the behaviors of the South American countries involved. Very disheartening to witness this “ugly” side of humanity – lack of compassion and yet there is so much of human spirit that is willing to aid their fellow man in time of need. I am well impressed with HAL their management team and the decision making process together with the rapid planning and response to this crisis. Thanks you again and know that my heart, thoughts and prayers are with you and the whole HAL team as you adjust to a new world reality. God bless Zaandam and Rotterdam, her guests and crew. We are planning Alaska (again) in 2021. mat the “force” be with you always.

  242. David Haycox March 30, 2020 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    I’m on Rotterdam. So what you’re saying is nobody wants us and you’ve got no answers. You’re saying we may run out of supplies. What’s the answer we all die at sea?
    The Florida State Governors response today is incredible on every level.
    Come on, get this fixed NOW

  243. david buckingham March 30, 2020 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    in late january we toke a quick cruise out of ft lauderdale on the veendam for my wifes 70th as we finally made 4 star and hopefuly this fall we will be able to take one for my 75 as long time hal members i have nothing to say but they are the best and most helpful cruise line i know . i dont think the general public really realise what it takes to ooarrange everything that a cruise line has to do to arrange everything .as a retiered gm.to you sire i thank you for your perservence in this matter.

  244. Rita March 30, 2020 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Covid19 is a natural disaster, this is no ones fault. The cruise line did not cause this nor did the guest or coworkers on these ships, for the love of God let them go home!!!

    God forgive those that allow continued suffering of these people.

    Heart Broken and disappointed in our world.


  245. Samuel/DoreenWebster March 30, 2020 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Having travelled many times with Holland America, their response to this awful problem does not surprise us. They give 101% to provide for their guests.

  246. Penny March 30, 2020 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Hi Orlondo, I am one of the passengers still on Zaandam because my companion stated on her medical form she uses aCPAP machine for sleep apnoea. Neither of us have, has any of the symptoms.
    But we are still on a ship with COVID-19 , are still on lower promenade deck and haven’t been out of our cabin .
    I realise that you have over 2000 people to worry about, but we are starting to become very anxious ourselves, when we see this press release

  247. Erma Lou Mojado March 30, 2020 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    I hope that there are still goverment out there who are have the heart and compassion to help these ships..this is the time to unite and help each other instead of turning away from eath other..My heart goes to the passengers and crews of these ships..And kudos to HAL for doing everything they can do at times like these..God bless ?❤

  248. Nancy Hailey March 30, 2020 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    We are all humans facing this terrible virus together. These people should be allowed to go home and they deserve to get the best medical care available. Shame on those turning their backs on these people . Your article touched my heart ! Praying that you will have a port to come home to. We are suppose to help one another in crisis… not turn our back on those in need. Allowing fear to change who we are… we are all humans..

  249. Dana Cook March 30, 2020 at 8:22 pm - Reply


    I 100% agree. Thank you for writing. I hope others continue to stress to local officials to help our stranded shipmates. I also hope that US officials find a way to provide enough test kits while at sea to the ships to allow quick repatriation (or quarantine on shore if necessary) when the ships finally arrive at the port.

    I continue to pray for the HAL cruisers at sea, HAL employees impacted by this unfortunate event, and local officials for their compassion and assistance. I am in communication with several HAL employees on various ships and continue to hope they can either be reunited with their families or get a clear path forward during this troubling time

    Thank you for your leadership

    Dana H Cook

  250. Robert Clark March 30, 2020 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Nicely stated. We could have been on a cruise if the US outbreak had been delayed by two days. I understand the unfortunate timing.

    Hoping that Florida allows access to their port…..they freely allowed access to their beaches over spring break.

    Heartfelt appreciation for HAL’s determination to do what is best.

  251. Bernard T Wilson March 30, 2020 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Much Sadness!
    My wife an I have had many cruises with Hollandamerica we are both shocked and disappointed at the actions taken by authorities of some of these ports and countries.
    We all have a future after this time and things will be different but personally I hope nothing changes for the attitude of all Hollandamerica Staff and Crew . Please take care of yourselves just like you take care of your passenger’s.

  252. Marc White March 30, 2020 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    I’m a former guest on your ships. You and your staff are all in our thoughts and prayers. I’m proud that you found it appropriate to share your thoughts about this terrible situation.

  253. Lorna Berbeck March 30, 2020 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    We have recently sailed aboard both these wonderful ships… Bravo Zulu to all involved in this exercise in keeping people who will not wash their hands, or will not keep quarantine. The staff of each ship is to be commended for their hard work during this difficult time..

  254. patricia March 30, 2020 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    saddened by this outcome – we travel holland american all the time – was suppose to be on a voyage to japan and when that cancelled we rebooked to south america 3/15 thinking the virus was not coming this way – all of a sudden with a blink of an eye everything changed. i have rebooked an amazing journey from san diego in october. lets hope this all comes to a good resolution.

  255. Megan March 30, 2020 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Well said. My family and I love sailing on Holland America and our thoughts are with those on your ships. Thank you for your work for your passengers and crew and I wholeheartedly share your belief we should focus on who we want to be as a people and how we can help each other in these difficult and unprecedented times.

  256. Kris Baker March 30, 2020 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Awful for all involved. What a shame HAL didn’t heed the recommendations from the CDC when all other cruise lines did. COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE.

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