TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Frank Kenney and his wife, Toni, are among hundreds of passengers on board two Holland America cruise ships, stuck at sea off the coast of Cuba. The retirees from Citrus County tell 8 On Your Side they just want to come home.
Passengers from both ships were originally one manifest when the South American voyage began nearly a month ago on March 6 aboard the Zaandam.
Everything seemed fine until passengers started to show flu-like symptoms.
The cruise was scheduled to circle South America for two weeks. Instead, the ship became a haven for deadly infection, killing four people and leaving hundreds of others suffering and gravely ill.
Holland America responded quickly by transferring the healthy passengers, including Frank and Toni, to another ship, the Rotterdam where they remain locked in their cabin with no face to face contact with anyone for days.
“Every day we keep thinking something is going to happen, and it doesn’t happen,” Toni told 8 On Your Side. “We just want to go home.”
She added, “My heart goes out to those who are sick.”
Right now, the ships are being denied access to every port they approach, turned away from multiple countries, including the United States where Governor Ron DeSantis steadfastly refused entry.
No one will take them.
Both ships have cleared the Panama Canal and now headed for Florida. The captain on board on ship reportedly told passengers, “This is not a cruise anymore. This is a humanitarian mission.”
Right now, no one will take them. As both ships have been denied port access from multiple countries, including the U.S.
Governor Ron Desantis has steadfastly refused any entry into Florida telling reporters the state’s health care resources are already stretched too thin to take on ships’ coronavirus caseload.
“Just to drop them off here makes no sense,” DeSantis said.
President Donald Trump disagrees, calling this a “humanitarian” issue and says he will “do what’s right. Not only for us, but for humanity.” urging the governor to do the same.
As for Frank and Toni, they’re trying to remain positive as they put on their face masks when they open their cabin door for breakfast after hearing the early morning knock. When they open it, the hall is empty, only a tray awaits them
Frank has a message for the governor. “Please do everything in your power to bring us home.”