Holland America said its Westerdam cruise ship, which has been rejected by about a half-dozen countries over fears of the mysterious new virus that has ravaged parts of China, will be able to dock at a port in Cambodia.
The operator said it will disembark Thursday while passengers are able to go on shore, the Carnival Corp.-owned company said in a statement.
“All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support,” the firm wrote, adding that the cruise will dock in Sihanoukville. Passengers will then disembark before being transferred via chartered flights to the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, paid for by Holland America.
The cruise ship has been rejected by Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and the U.S. territory of Guam, but Holland America said there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, on the Westerdam. There were fears that the vessel could run out of food and supplies as it searched for a port to dock.
In its statement, Holland America reiterated that “all guests on board are healthy and despite erroneous reports, there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have [there] ever been.” The Westerdam has about 2,200 people on board, including passengers and crew members.
The ship’s captain also confirmed the latest plan to dock in Cambodia.
“We will immediately begin making our way to Sihanoukville in Cambodia,” Westerdam Captain Vincent Smit told passengers, as reported by The Guardian. “There will be a brief health inspection on board by the Cambodian authorities which will take place at anchor just before we arrive.”
Holland America said that a full refund will be offered to passengers on the Westerdam. Flights home will also be covered by the firm.
After Thai authorities rejected the ship, some passengers on the Westerdam started sending messages to President Donald Trump on Twitter. Accounts belonging to Vice President Mike Pence and Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short were also targeted.
— Scott Willett (@srwillett) February 11, 2020
@realDonaldTrump Mr President I am on amthe #Westerdam ship floating in the China sea. I am an American. No country including Guam will allow us to dock. Noone onboard has signs or symptoms of Coronavirus. We need rescued. Please help us. #sos #prayforus #rescue
— AJ (@Mountain_AJ) February 7, 2020
“Mr. President I am on the Westerdam ship floating in the China sea. I am an American. No country including Guam will allow us to dock,” one person, who said he was on the ship, wrote on the social media website.
Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed that at least one person on the Westerdam was suspected of being infected with COVID-19. At the time, Holland America denied “rumors” that any passengers were infected.
“Based on the immigration control law, we will refuse non-Japanese on the ship entry, unless there are exceptional reasons,” Abe said, according to public broadcaster NHK. The ship was originally slated to make a port of call and disembark in Yokohama on Feb. 15.
At the same time, Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess has been held off Yokohama in medical isolation after officials discovered that a Hong Kong man on board the vessel had contracted the virus. So far, about 175 people on the ship have come down with COVID-19, according to the latest update from Japanese health authorities.