The ship which has been turned away from multiple Asian ports is now sailing for Sihanoukville, Cambodia where she will end her cruise Thursday morning, February 13.
The Westerdam has no passengers with the coronavirus but she has been sailing the seas looking for somewhere to give it a home since February 4, after five countries have turned the ship away.
“We will arrive at 7:00 a.m. local time on Thursday, Feb. 13 and will remain in port for several days for disembarkation. Guests will be able to go ashore. All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support,” says Holland American Line in a statement.
“Guests will disembark in Sihanoukville over the next few days and transfer via charter flights to Phnom Penh for forward travel home. Holland America Line will arrange and pay for all flights home, in addition to the full cruise refund and 100% future cruise credit already communicated.”
“All guests on board are healthy and despite erroneous reports there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have their ever been.”
The 2,257 passengers and crew are now celebrating on board.
— Christina Kerby (@ChristinaKerby) February 12, 2020
The sorry story of the Holland American Westerdam, with 1,455 guests on board, neatly illustrates that the virus has now created a pandemic of hysteria – and that no-one seems to be in charge.
Somehow, the rumour spread that someone on board was sick. Perhaps it was a pernicious social media post. Perhaps it was a joke. Who knows. The result has been ridiculous and shaming.
Thailand became the latest country to turn the vessel away. Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced in a short Facebook post on Tuesday that he’s directed authorities to refuse entry into a port near Bangkok.
The ship which has 79 Australians on board was sailing on a 14-day itinerary which departed Hong Kong on February 1. It was first refused entry at Taiwan on February 4.
The ship which was meant to continue to Japanese ports like Ishigaki Island, Naha, Nagasaki and Sasebo was then informed on February 6 that Japan was also going to deny port entry for the ship.
The ship was subsequently also denied entry by The Philippines, the US territory of Guam and Thailand.
But no-one has so far been sick on the Westerdam, according to Holland America.
The ship’s final disembarkation port on February 15 was originally set in Shanghai, but it was changed to Yokohama in light of the U.S. CDC Level 3 travel warning to China issued January 27, 2020. However, with the turn of events, the line is “currently working to finalize a new port of disembarkation” in a statement released on February 7.
The ship’s next cruise, which was due to start on February 15, has also been cancelled.
On board, some passengers took to social media after learning about Thailand’s refusal.
I can understand how despair can set in when hope is dashed. I’ve never been one to accept Helplessness. As of now our ship hasn’t told us we are not going to Thailand to disembark. First time this morning laughter was heard that has again quieted #westerdam @HALcruises
Another post read:
Here’s a science fiction plot line for ya. Amidst a global epidemic that wipes out the earth’s population, it’s up to the people aboard one cruise ship- the only safe place on earth- to repopulate the planet. **Passengers onboard the #Westerdam begin eyeing each other nervously**
Holland America said: “We are actively working this matter and will provide an update when we are able.”
The line added the vessel is not in quarantine and it has no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board.
Meanwhile the ABC reported Adelaide businessman David Holst and his wife, Judy, were among those on board.
Mr Holst spent his birthday stranded on board the ship at the weekend and told the ABC: “For three days we have been sailing away from the hot zone and have not seen land
Mr Holst said the stress of the trip had taken its toll.
He said fears about the coronavirus breaking out had also taken its toll on passengers.
“And having that fear that you can’t put completely away, that [coronavirus] is going to be on our boat, that sort of pressure is demoralising.”
The ship’s next cruise, which was due to start on February 15, has been cancelled.
The death toll in China is at 908; confirmed cases are at 40,171
In contrast, according to the Scientific American, the flu has already caused an estimated 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalisations and 10,000 deaths this season in America alone.
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