MS Zaandam

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Zaandam in Glacier Bay, Alaska
OwnerCarnival Corporation & plc
OperatorHolland America Line
Port of registryNetherlands Rotterdam[1]
BuilderFincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiana SpA, Marghera, Italy
Yard number6036
Laid down26 June 1998[1]
Launched29 April 1999
ChristenedMay 2000
Completed6 April 2000[1]
General characteristics
Class and typeRotterdam-class (R-class) cruise ship
Length237 m (778 ft)[1]
Beam32.28 m (105.9 ft)[1]
Draught8.1 m (27 ft)[1]
Decks10 decks
Installed power42,000 kW[1]
Speed23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Capacity1,432 passengers

MS Zaandam is a cruise ship owned and operated by Holland America Line, named for the city of Zaandam, Netherlands near Amsterdam. She was built by Fincantieri in Marghera, Italy and delivered in 2000. Zaandam is part of the Rotterdam class and a sister ship to Volendam, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam.

The ship was denied access to the Panama Canal and then to Fort Lauderdale after an outbreak of COVID-19 early in the 2020 pandemic. Four passengers and crew died of COVID-19 during or after that voyage.[3]

Design and description[edit]

Zaandam's bulbous bow

The ship has a gross tonnage (GT) of 61,396, a net tonnage (NT) of 31,224 and measures 7,321 tons deadweight (DWT). The ship is 237.7 metres (780 ft) long with a beam of 32.4 metres (106 ft 5 in) and a draught of 8.3 metres (27 ft 1 in).[4][5][a] As built the vessel had a GT of 60,906 and DWT 6,150. As built Zaandam was 237 metres (777 ft 7 in) long overall and 202.8 metres (665 ft 4 in) between perpendiculars with a beam of 32.3 metres (106 ft 0 in).[7] The vessel is powered by a diesel-electric system turning two propeller shafts creating 37,500 kilowatts (50,300 hp).[8] This gives Zaandam a maximum speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph).[4]

The vessel can accommodate 1,432 passengers and 607 crew.[4][8][b] The 716 cabins range in size from in size from 10.5–104.6 m2 (113–1,126 sq ft), of which 197 have a balcony. Zaandam has a musical theme, and is decorated with artefacts and memorabilia from different musical genres, such as a Baroque-style Dutch pipe organ and guitars signed by the Rolling Stones, Carlos Santana and Queen.[8] One of the centre stairways has a saxophone signed by former United States President Bill Clinton on the mouthpiece.[8][9] A total of 10 decks are accessible to passengers (with the top-most split in the middle to accommodate the Lido deck pool skylight and the "A" deck having only the port/starboard tender ship docks accessible), 5 of which contain cabins. The Lower Promenade Deck (Deck 3) has an exterior walkway along the ship's circumference, excluding the bow section.[10]

Construction and career[edit]

The cruise ship was constructed by Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiana SpA at Marghera, Italy with the yard number 6036 and the keel was laid down on 26 June 1998. The vessel was launched on 29 April 1999 and completed on 6 April 2000.[7] Zaandam was christened by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in May 2000.[4] The ship is registered in the Netherlands and owned and operated by the Holland America Line.[6]

Zaandam currently sails through Canada and New England during the summer and during the winter sails Mexico and Hawaii. In December and January, Zaandam cruises the Antarctic and South America.[11]

On 24 June 2018, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 73 people became ill on Zaandam in a norovirus outbreak en voyage from Seattle, Washington to Alaska.[12]

Coronavirus pandemic[edit]

On 7 March 2020 Zaandam departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, sailing for San Antonio, Chile with 1,243 passengers and 586 crew.[13][14] By 14 March, 13 passengers and over 100 crew members had fallen ill with "flu-like symptoms.".[15] She became stranded off the coast of Chile after being denied entry. By 24 March, the vessel was sailing for Port Everglades, a cruise-liner port in Florida, United States. The number of sick people aboard had risen to 77.[16] Holland America dispatched sister ship Rotterdam to aid the ship by bringing supplies, additional medical staff, and COVID-19 tests, and also with the intention of transferring healthy passengers onto Rotterdam.[13]

On 27 March, Zaandam was denied transit through the Panama Canal due to the number of sick people on board.[17] Four passengers died while waiting for permission to transit the Panama Canal with the number of sick aboard climbing to 148.[13] On 28 March 2020, Zaandam and Rotterdam were cleared by the Panama Department of Health to transit the Panama Canal.[18] Some passengers from Zaandam transferred to the Rotterdam.[19][20][21] Rotterdam followed Zaandam through the Panama Canal on her way to Port Everglades, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At that time, the crew of Zaandam included four physicians and four nurses while Rotterdam's roster included two physicians and four nurses.[22]

By 31 March 2020, the number reported as being "ill" had increased to 193.[23] Rotterdam had taken almost 1,400 symptom-free people from Zaandam, leaving 450 passengers and 602 crew members on her sister ship.[24]

By 30 March 2020, Holland America did not receive permission to dock either vessel at Fort Lauderdale as planned. The city's mayor, Dean Trantalis, "said he didn't want the ship to dock near his city, at least without extensive precautions."[25][26] The Florida state governor, Ron DeSantis, was also hesitant to accept Zaandam at Fort Lauderdale, and declined to make a decision on 31 March 2020. The president of Holland America made a public plea for acceptance of the ship and expressed concern that various ports in several countries had been reluctant to provide provisions and medical supplies.[27]

In a 30 March press conference, the state governor suggested that the best solution might be to send medical assistance to the ship.[28] On 1 April, the governor announced that only residents of Florida could disembark when the ship arrived. 190 passengers and crew reported "flu-like" symptoms and eight had tested positive for COVID-19.[29]

US President Donald Trump said on 1 April 2020 that "we have to help the people" [on the ships] and that discussions were under way with Canada and the United Kingdom about them "arranging flights to retrieve their citizens from the ship." After the ship was allowed to dock, nine passengers were taken to local hospitals, but 45 others who were ill were required to remain on board, receiving medical care, until they fully met "the CDC guidelines for being fit to travel." Crew from both ship were not permitted to disembark.[30] The cruise line sought to arrange for passengers from other countries to leave Florida on chartered aircraft.[31]

By 4 April, "14 critically ill people" were admitted to local hospitals, while the others were allowed to disembark when flights to their destinations were available.[32] A fourth person, one of the crew, died in hospital on 10 April.[3] As a result of the pandemic, Zaandam was taken out of active service.

In August 2021, Holland America Line announced Zaandam would return to cruising the Canada/New England region in May 2022.[33]

External videos
video icon Q&A interview with Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin on Cabin Fever, July 24, 2022, C-SPAN

A book about Zandaam was published in June 2022 titled Cabin Fever: The Harrowing Journey of a Cruise Ship at the Dawn of a Pandemic, by Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin.[34]


  1. ^ Holland America has the beam at 32.2 metres (105 ft 8 in),[4] while Equasis has the deadweight tonnage at the original 6,150.[6]
  2. ^ Ward has the crew numbering 650.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Zaandam (9156527)". LR Class Direct. Lloyd's Register. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Zaandam (9156527)". Leonardo Info. Registro Italiano Navale. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b Sullivan, Helen (10 April 2020). "Coronavirus live news: global deaths pass 95,000 as 1 in 10 Americans lose their jobs". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Holland America.
  5. ^ "Zaandam (4746)". Port State Information Exchange. United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b Equasis.
  7. ^ a b Miramar Ship Index.
  8. ^ a b c d e Ward 2019, p. 1631.
  9. ^ "Zaandam Ship Details". Cruiseabout. Archived from the original on 18 August 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  10. ^ "Zandaam Deck Plans" (PDF). Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  11. ^ "South America & Antarctica Cruises & Vacations". Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  12. ^ "73 sickened on cruise ship that left Seattle for Alaska". Associated Press. 24 June 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  13. ^ a b c Harris, Alex (27 March 2020). "Four passengers died on Zaandam cruise ship with 148 people sick with flu-like symptoms". Bradenton Herald. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  14. ^ McCormick, Erin (27 March 2020). "'Stranded at sea': cruise ships around the world are adrift as ports turn them away". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  15. ^ Harris, Sophia (23 March 2020). "'Get us the hell off': Canadians on board stranded cruise ship with 42 sick passengers, crew". CBC News. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  16. ^ Dolven, Taylor (24 March 2020). "A cruise ship with 77 sick on board hopes to dock in Port Everglades on March 30". Miami Herald. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  17. ^ "Zaandam cruise ship denied crossing Panama Canal due to quarantine". Prensa Latina. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  18. ^ Hines, Morgan (28 March 2020). "Coronavirus: Holland America's Zaandam, Rotterdam get permission to transit Panama Canal". USA Today. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  19. ^ Hines, Morgan (28 March 2020). "Coronavirus: Holland America's Zaandam, Rotterdam get OK to transit Panama Canal for Florida". USA Today. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  20. ^ Silverman, Hollie (30 March 2020). "A cruise ship headed to Florida has reported more sick people on board after 4 die and 2 test positive for Covid-19". CNN. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Coronavirus: Cruise ship off Panama coast transfers passengers". BBC. 29 March 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  22. ^ Winsa, Patty (28 March 2020). "Passengers on cruise ship in Panama transferred to new vessel". Toronto Star. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  23. ^ "More COVID-19 cases on stranded cruise ship with 4 dead. Cruise line pleads for help". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  24. ^ Gomez, Adriana Gomez & Kennedy, Kelli (31 March 2020). "Florida Docking Plan in the Works for Ill-Fated Cruise Ships". NBC New York. Associated Press. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Authority: Stranded ships begin transiting Panama Canal". WFLA News Channel 8. Associated Press. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  26. ^ Neal, David J. & Dolven, Taylor (30 March 2020). "Fort Lauderdale mayor not ready to accept the coronavirus-hit Zaandam at Port Everglades". Miami Herald. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  27. ^ "More COVID-19 cases on stranded cruise ship with 4 dead. Cruise line pleads for help". CBC News. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  28. ^ "Cruise ship with coronavirus outbreak sails to uncertain Florida welcome". National Post. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  29. ^ Sanchez, Ray; Flores, Rosa & Weisfeldt, Sara (1 April 2020). "Florida governor: We'll take state residents only from Zaandam cruise ship". CNN. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Cruise ships are still scrambling for safe harbor". CNN. 3 April 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  31. ^ Burke, Minyvonne (2 April 2020). "Cruise ship with sick passengers and sister ship will be allowed to dock in Florida". NBC News. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  32. ^ Anderson, Curt (4 April 2020). "Another cruise ship with virus victims docks in Florida". Belleville News-Democrat. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 6 April 2020. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  33. ^ Line, Holland America. "Holland America Line Announces May 2022 Return-to-Service Dates for Volendam and Zaandam". (Press release). Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  34. ^ Rob Merrill (21 June 2022). "Review: 'Cabin Fever' captures the horror of COVID cruise". Associated Press. Retrieved 1 July 2022.


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