Supplies are to be delivered at sea to a cruise ship unable to dock for more than a week due to port closures.
Holland American Line vessel Zaandam will receive coronavirus test kits after 13 passengers and 29 crew reported as having influenza-like symptoms on Sunday.
The company is sending the ship Rotterdam from Mexico to meet Zaandam off the coast of Panama on Thursday.
Zaandam, which is sailing from South America with 1,243 passengers, including 305 US citizens and 247 Canadians, has not been in port since March 14 in Punta Arenas in Chile. It is not known whether there are an Britons on board the ship which also has 586 crew.
The vessel left Buenos Aires in Argentina on March 7 on an itinerary that was orginally due to end in San Antonio in Chile on March 14 but was cut short as HAL owner Carnival Corporation suspended global cruise operations for 30 days.
The cruise line was then prevented from allowing passengers off to fly home from Punta Arenas.
HAL said: “As all ports along Zaandam’s route are closed to cruise ships, Holland America Line has deployed Rotterdam to rendezvous with Zaandam and provide extra supplies, staff, Covid-19 test kits and other support as needed.
“Carrying 611 crew and no guests, Rotterdam departed Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at 3pm local time on March 22 and the current schedule is for the two ships to meet by the evening of March 26 off the coast of Panama.
“Our intention is to proceed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for arrival on March 30, however plans are still being finalised.
“Alternative options also are being developed. No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile.”
However, there is no guarantee that Zaandam will be allowed into the Florida’s Port Everglades.
Any decision by officials on whether to allow the ship to enter Port Everglades “will be determined as more information is available in consultation with a unified command made up of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, US Coast Guard, and US Customs & Border Protection, Port Everglades Pilots Association and Broward Sheriff’s Office,” a spokesperson said.
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