DeSantis said Wednesday that he would bring the Floridians from the Zaandam into the state and find a way to "deal with" foreign nationals on the ships in order to avoid using resources in South Florida, which is the epicenter of the state's coronavirus outbreak.
The governor previously said he didn't want any of the cruise ship passengers to disembark in the state but said he changed his stance after learning there were Floridians and other U.S. citizens on board.
"We were concerned about a deluge into the hospitals but I think it turns out that there will probably be some who will need to go but it's very, very manageable and the local hospital system thinks that they can handle it," DeSantis said.
The Zaandam, owned by Carnival's Holland America Line, is carrying 1,243 passengers, including 305 U.S. citizens and 247 Canadians, according to Port Everglades. Among the Americans are 49 Florida residents.
Four people have died on the Zaandam since it departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 for a trip that was expected to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21. It has been denied ports to disembark passengers due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Healthy passengers on board the Zaandam were then transferred over to another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, where they have been kept isolated in their new rooms.
U.S. copes with COVID-19 pandemic
The ships are traveling at a speed that would place them near the coast of South Florida by 1 a.m. Thursday and both the Zaandam and the Rotterdam are on the Port Everglades docking schedule for Thursday at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., respectively.
On Wednesday, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine said a Unified Command made up of officials from the sheriff's office, the U.S. Coast Guard Customs and Border Patrol and Port Everglades had yet to reach an agreement with the cruise line to allow the ships to dock.
"The Unified Command advised that a suitable plan had not been presented that allows the ship to enter Untied States Waters, secure a berth at the port and protect the public," he wrote.
Port Everglades said the plan must include measures such as disclosure of all illnesses and temperature readings for all disembarking crew and passengers as well as for the cruise line to arrange and pay for personal protective equipment for staff, disposal of waste and disinfection of the ships.