TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Frank Kenny and his wife Toni set off for a dream cruise on March 7.
The plan was to board the Holland America Cruise ship The Zaandam on a South American voyage.
The ship departed Buenos Aires, Argentina and then was scheduled to end the journey in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21.
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During the trip, several passengers developed flu-like symptoms and eventually, some of them tested positive for COVID-19.
Four of the passengers died at sea.
After the cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, Argentina refused to let passengers off the ship and no other port would allow the ship to dock.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said he didn’t want the cruise line to dump sick passengers into his state, but after an urgent appeal from President Trump, Florida relented and agreed to a plan to disembark the passengers.
Jessica Mattie is Frank’s granddaughter and said they never expected the situation to become this serious.
“We didn’t think it was going to get this bad. We were hoping it was something we could take care of, that it was going to be a safe trip. We didn’t think they were going to get in all this trouble and have this potential threat,” said Mattie.
She said the couple has done the best they can to isolate themselves on board during their nearly four weeks at sea.
“They’ve been in quarantine themselves in their room on the ship. They’ve not had very much contact with any people, even their meals are being dropped off outside of the door,” said Mattie.
She became even more concerned when Governor DeSantis said he didn’t want the passengers in his state.
“You should give them a fighting chance to come back to their home and make themselves as safe as we are,” said Mattie.
She heard the state has finally agreed to let the passengers off the ship, but says she won’t feel comfortable until she hears her grandfather and his wife are safely on shore.
“They are letting some Floridians off the boat today. Now, I don’t know for sure if he’s one of them. I can only hope that he’s getting off as well,” said Mattie.
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