For the 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members aboard the MS Westerdam cruise ship, it has been a grueling two weeks. What started out as a normal cruise trip from Singapore to Yokohama quickly turned into a nightmare as the cruise ship was denied entry by five countries. Thailand, Guam, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines all turned the ship away amid fears that one of the passengers may have the Covid-19 virus (novel coronavirus). Despite insisting that nobody onboard the ship was displaying any symptoms of having the virus, none of the countries were willing to rescind their decision, stranding the cruise ship on the sea for two weeks in a state of limbo.
With the ship’s food supply dwindling fast, Cambodia announced that it would allow the condemned ship to dock in the coastal city of Sihanoukville to allow passengers to disembark. The announcement came as a relief to both passengers as well as the cruise liner’s operators, Holland American Line. Upon arrival, Cambodian health officials were waiting to examine the passengers as they disembark the ship.
Holland American Line organized for cleared passengers to be flown from Sihanoukville International Airport to Phnom Penh, where they will be repatriated to their respective countries. The ship itself will remain docked in Sihanoukville indefinitely.
The MS Westerdam is the second ship to be quarantined over fears of the Covid-19 virus. A British cruise ship, The Diamond Princess, was recently quarantined in Japan, with a number of confirmed cases reported among the passengers.
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