Santiago: More than 1,800 people stuck onboard a cruise ship off the Pacific coast of South America, with 42 complaining of flu-like symptoms, are desperately hoping to be allowed to dock -- somewhere.
"Testing times," Australian couple Dimiti and Neal Bates wrote on Facebook. "Please don't forget us."
The Zaandam liner run by Holland America left Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was supposed to arrive last Saturday at San Antonio, near Santiago in Chile.
Its plight is the latest affecting the global cruise industry, which has seen vessels refused entry to ports and others locked down after new-coronavirus cases were confirmed onboard during the pandemic.
Along the way, the Zaandam docked in Punta Arenas, in Chile's far south, before leaving there just days before Chilean President Sebastian Pinera closed the country's borders on March 18.
Soon after, the company suspended all its cruises due to measures including the closure of land, air and sea borders imposed by governments all over the world to prevent the pandemic's spread.
It headed back to Punta Arenas in a bid to arrange for its more than 1,200 passengers and almost 600 crew to take flights back to their home countries.
"Despite previous confirmations that guests could disembark in Punta Arenas, Chile, for flights, we were not permitted to do so," Holland America said in a statement on its website.
"No one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas."
The 42 showing flu-like symptoms are quarantined....