‘FIVE GOES TO SIX!!’ MS ZAANDAM ENTERS THE BAY!
Written by Jay Richards on 10/10/2020
Another cruise ship has joined the duo of Holland America Line cruise vessels in the Bay of Torbay. Yesterday saw the arrival of MS Zaandam. There are now 6 ships in the armada of ships off Torbay’s coastline, Westerdam, Volendam, Zaandam (Holland America Line), P & O Azura, P & I Ventura and The Queen Mary 2, Cunard’s luxury transatlantic ocean liner.
MS Zaandam 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. 4 passengers and crew died of COVID-19 during or after that voyage. The ship has a gross tonnage of 61,396, a net tonnage of 31,224 and measures 7,321 tons deadweight. The ship is 237.7 metres long with a beam of 32.4 metres and a draught of 8.3 metres.
The vessel is powered by a diesel-electric system and produces 37,500 kilowatts (50,300 hp). This gives Zaandam a maximum speed of 23 knots (26 mph).
The vessel can accommodate 1,432 passengers and 607 crew. There are 716 cabins which range in size from 10.5–104.6 m2, 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. One of the centre stairways has a saxophone signed by former United States President Bill Clinton on the mouthpiece.
Zaandam usually sails through Canada and New England during the summer season. During the Winter she sails Mexico and Hawaii. In December and January, Zaandam cruises the Antarctic and South America. On 27 March 2020, Zaandam was denied transit through the Panama Canal due to the number of sick people on board. Four passengers died while waiting for permission to transit the Panama Canal with the number of sick aboard climbing to 148. As of 30 March 2020, Holland America was denied permission to dock at Fort Lauderdale as planned. Associated Press reported that the city’s Mayor, Dean Trantalis said “he didn’t want the ship to dock near his City, at least without extensive precautions”. By 31 March 2020, the number reported as being “ill” had increased to 193.
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 the ship were not permitted to disembark. The cruise line sought to arrange for passengers from other countries to leave Florida on chartered aircraft.
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. A fourth person, one of the crew, died in hospital on 10 April. Zaandam now finds itself in ‘warm storage’ in the Bay of Torbay with 2 other Holland America Line ships, the Westerdam and the Volendam.
Torbay’s coastline is currently being used as an area for numerous vessels to remain in a state of ‘warm storage’ where a minimal crew is left aboard to keep the vessel in full running order to avoid completely shutting down the ship’s engines and putting the vessel into a state of ‘cold storage’ where all onboard facilities would be totally ‘shut down’. Cold storage is a last resort for cruise lines due to the extremely high costs involved in re-starting all ships systems, including, engines, water sanitization plant, air conditioning and other navigational systems.