After their vessel was denied entry to several ports across East Asia, passengers on board MS Westerdam have begun disembarking the ship in Cambodia.
Westerdam, which was stranded in the South China Sea last week, was cleared for disembarkation in Sihanoukville after the Cambodian Health Ministry announced that all 20 samples taken from the ship returned negative for coronavirus by a Phnom Penh laboratory.
The cruise ship’s owner, Holland America (HAL), has reiterated that there were never any suspected cases of coronavirus on board the vessel.
In a statement, HAL also thanked Cambodia for demonstrating “a willingness to welcome us with an open mind and make decisions based on facts”.
“We are pleased with the successful resolution of this challenging journey that was complicated by unfounded fears stemming from erroneous information with respect to the medical condition of Westerdam’s guests and crew,” HAL Group and Carnival UK CEO Stein Kruse said.
“This has all been a terrible and unfortunate misunderstanding that has impacted 2,257 people on board and hundreds of others shoreside who have worked 24/7 to get our guests home.”
With full disembarkation expected to take a few days, passenger began leaving the ship this morning (14 February).
On Twitter, holidaymaker Christina Kerby reported that passengers were welcomed with a visit from the Cambodian Prime Minister, flowers and “traditional checkered scarves that were a gift from Cambodia”.
“I’m in tears, the show of support is overwhelming,” @ChristinaKerby tweeted.
In addition to homeward travel, HAL said it would provide guests with a “100% refund of their cruise fare, plus an additional 100% future cruise credit”.
Carrying 1,455 guests and 802 crew, Westerdam was on a 14-day cruise that departed Hong Kong on 1 February. It was due to end its journey in Yokohama, Japan, where Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess remains in quarantine.
All images Twitter / @ChristinaKerby
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