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Maritimers among hundreds stranded on cruise ship with COVID-19 deaths
HALIFAX -- Maritimers are among the hundreds of Canadians trapped on board a luxury cruise ship that technically has nowhere to go at the moment.
The Zaandam is heading toward Florida hoping to dock and let passengers make their way home.
The situation is proving to be as hard on their families as it is on the passengers.
Ian Arbeau of Halifax hasn't seen his parents Vance and Elaine -- who are on the ship -- for nearly a month, and doesn't expect to see them any time soon.
"Nobody has any answers," Arbeau says. "Nobody knows anything. They're headed to Fort Lauderdale on the hopes they can dock, but they still don't even know that much yet."
The ship was allowed to pass through the Panama Canal early Sunday morning, but it's been a rocky voyage for the Zaandam, which set sail around South America in early March.
There have been four deaths, and Holland America confirms several people on the cruise ship have since tested positive for COVID-19.
Hundreds of others have complained of flu-like symptoms, including Elaine Arbeau, who felt better Monday and doesn't think she picked up the virus.
"I did not have the dry cough," Elaine Arbeau told CTV News. "I did not have the sore throat. I did not have headache. All I had was a fever, and it was slight; it was 100.6."
Several hundred passengers have been transferred to a sister ship, and both are sailing toward Florida, although the governor has made it clear he doesn't want them.
Despite being confined to their cabins, passengers insist they're being treated well.
"We get three good meals every day," said Vance Arbeau. "For instance, last night for dinner, we had steak and lobster."
Also on board are two women from Moncton: Trudy Robertson and Judy Menard, who will turn 77 on Tuesday.
Despite the uncertainty, both are said to be doing well.
As for critics who wonder why anyone would have willingly boarded a cruise ship a month ago, family members note the situation was much different then, with no government orders or advisories in effect.
"They're in a very difficult situation at this time, and we need to focus our energy on how do those people get home in a safe way," said Judy's daughter, Alison Menard.
So, the worries continue for Arbeau and others, who don't expect to see their loved ones soon.
"It won't be for probably another month," Arbeau said.
It's a sentiment shared by many with loved ones on board a cruise to nowhere.