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Daughter of Norfolk couple on cruise ship urges Florida mayor to help them get home

PUBLISHED: 16:23 30 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:33 30 March 2020

Norfolk couple Heather and David Haycox. Pic: Courtesy Samantha Haycox.

Norfolk couple Heather and David Haycox. Pic: Courtesy Samantha Haycox.

Samantha Haycox

The daughter of a Norfolk couple stranded on a cruise ship is hoping the Mayor of Florida will relent and allow the passengers to disembark there so they can get home.

The Zaandam cruise ship, carrying dozens of guests with flu-like symptoms, arrives to the bay of Panama City. Pic: AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)The Zaandam cruise ship, carrying dozens of guests with flu-like symptoms, arrives to the bay of Panama City. Pic: AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

David and Heather Haycox, from Brooke, had been on the cruise ship Zaandam, where more than a hundred fellow passengers had reported flu-like symptoms and four people had died.

The ship had been due to dock in Chile, but got turned away because of concerns over coronavirus and was then refused entry from Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Panama.

The pair, both 62, have been transferred on to another boat - the Rotterdam.

There had been concerns that the two ships would not be permitted to pass through the Panama Canal.

The Haycox's cabin on the Zaandam. Pic: David Haycox.The Haycox's cabin on the Zaandam. Pic: David Haycox.

However, the two ships have now passed through the canal.

In a tweet on Monday, Holland America Line said: “Zaandam & Rotterdam exited the Panama Canal this morning (Monday, March 30).

“We appreciate the humanitarian compassion shown for our guests and crew by the government of Panama and Panama Maritime Authority.”

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In a statement, the company said: “We are still finalising the details for where and when our guests will disembark, and are asking for the same compassion and humanity to be extended for our arrival.

“The Zaandam cruise was originally scheduled to end in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 7.”

The company said the two ships will remain together for the rest of the journey, and guests on both ships will remain in their rooms until disembarkation.

Pressure is now being mounted on the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale to allow passengers to disembark there.

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The mayor had said he did not want it to dock near his city as planned, at least without extensive precautions, but further discussions are taking place.

Samantha Haycox said: “We’re trying to put pressure on the mayor now!

“My fiancé’s family are all from there so are trying to rally.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “We are doing all we can to help British people on board the Zaandam cruise ship.

“Our staff are in close contact with the cruise operator and the authorities in the region to ensure British people can get home safely.”

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