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Seminole County couple stranded on cruise ship with coronavirus cases

Two passengers test positive on board the Holland America Zaandan

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Four people have now died on board a Holland America cruise ship, where a Seminole County couple is waiting to head home.

Laura Gabaroni and Juan Huergo told News 6 they set sail on the Holland America Zaandan on March 7 for what was supposed to be a 14 day cruise.

Twenty days later, they were still on board because no ports will let their cruise ship dock.

Laura Gabaroni and Juan Huergo are stranded aboard the Holland America Zaandan after two passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.
Laura Gabaroni and Juan Huergo are stranded aboard the Holland America Zaandan after two passengers tested positive for the coronavirus. (WKMG)

"We are hopeful things are going to turn around and get better soon," Gabaroni said.

Holland America announced on Friday that two people on board the Zaandan have tested positive for the coronavirus, but they could not link the four deaths on board to the virus.

A spokesperson said 138 people on board have reported flu-like symptoms.

Gabaroni and Huergo are secluded in their cabin.

"We are hopeful things are going to get better," Gabaroni said. "I know the cruise line and the staff here is doing everything they can to make us more comfortable."

The cruise line said they sent another ship -- the Rotterdam -- to rendezvous with the Zaandan off the coast of Panama.

They said healthy passengers will board the Rotterdam.

The Holland America Rotterdam has come to ferry healthy passengers off of the Zaandan.
The Holland America Rotterdam has come to ferry healthy passengers off of the Zaandan. (WKMG)

Gabaroni and Huergo said they hoped to board sometime on Saturday.

"Healthwise, we both are doing well and we plan to continue that way," Gabaroni said.

Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert and founder of the Cruise Guy website, said the cruise lines are doing things responsibly.

"All of the cruise lines are acting in a very responsible manner to ensure that the ships' passengers and crew are being handled with the upmost respect," he said.

Holland America said their team was negotiating with Panama to allow the ship to pass through the canal and head to Fort Lauderdale.

That passage could happen by Wednesday.


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