COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A dream vacation for a central Ohio couple turned into a nightmare after coronavirus was confirmed on board, sending the cruise ship on a desperate route that was anything but relaxing.
John and Lyn Hamilton live in Pataskala and left for the South American cruise on March 6th, which was the last time their daughter, Amy Wallick, saw them.
“I think it was like, well the cruise line would not run if they didn’t think it was safe, right?,” Wallick said.
Days later, schools, businesses and communities shutdown throughout the country and the world.
In the meantime, not long after the Holland America cruise ship Zaandam left port in Argentina, four people died, at least nine tested positive for coronavirus and nearly 200 had flu-like symptoms. To stop the spread, the cruise confined all passengers to their rooms.
“They walk around the bed, they do have a window that they look out of,” Wallick said of how her parents stay active.
Through text and phone calls, the Hamilton’s tell their daughter they both feel relatively healthy right now. Lyn may have a cold, but they are more fearful for the 2,500 others, including 300 Americans.
“There are a lot of elderly on board, and a lot of veterans that served our country,” their son-in-law Adam Wallick said.
With the virus on board, the cruise ship has been stuck in a holding pattern for two weeks as it traveled from country to country looking to unload passengers. Multiple countries, including Argentina and Peru, denied the ship access as they sealed their ports amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
To stop the spread on the ship and keep people healthy, passengers were screened and those deemed healthy were transferred to another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, which is where the Hamiltons are currently quarantined. Both ships are now headed to Florida’s coast.
“They are not getting the medical attention they need, and the fresh air they need,” Amy Wallick said. “I am very much worried for my parents and all the passengers.”
President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have promised to help the people on board, but local Broward County commissioners have been weary about letting people off and over-whelming hospitals in the area.
A quarantine for passengers is certain, but Wallick is hopeful it happens while protecting the people onshore and the people at sea.
“I think there is a way for all the passengers to come ashore and get the treatment they need in a way that keeps everyone safe and healthy,” Wallick said.
Broward County officials are scheduled to meet Thursday to decide if, how, and when the ships can dock. The ships themselves are scheduled to arrive hours later.