Thailand became the latest country to turn a Holland America Line cruise ship away from one of its ports, prompting pleas for help from some of the 2,257 passengers and crew desperate to disembark after almost two weeks at sea.
Fearing some guests aboard the Westerdam may be infected with the deadly new coronavirus, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced in a short Facebook post Tuesday that he’s directed authorities to refuse entry into a port near Bangkok.
Operated by Holland America Line, a brand owned by Miami-based cruise giant Carnival Corp., the ship has been refused entry by at least three other ports. Guam, Manila and Yokohama sent it away on concerns over the virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people since it was first reported late last year in Wuhan, China.
The refusal and quarantine of cruise ships is the latest effort by governments around the world seeking to contain the outbreak. Carnival’s Diamond Princess and its 3,700 passengers are quarantined in the port of Yokohama as authorities battle against an increasing number of infections on board.
On board the Westerdam, passengers posted desperate messages as they learned from media outlets about Thailand’s refusal.
Definitely stressful.we have been at sea 14 days as of this Friday. We have no passengers sick in any way. Westerdam is a ship of primarily US, Australian, British cruisers with no contact with mainland China other than to land in Hong Kong and go straight to our ship. #westerdam— AJ (@Mountain_AJ) February 11, 2020
In a blog post Monday evening, Holland America Line announced the ship was headed to Laem Chabang port -- about 50 miles east of Bangkok -- where passengers would disembark and end their journey on Feb. 13.
The ship operator has said that the vessel is not in quarantine and it has no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board. Holland America Line’s plight is adding to Carnival’s woes sparked by the virus.
Holland America and Carnival did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The Westerdam departed Hong Kong on Feb. 1 on a 14-day Taiwan and Japan cruise. With 1,455 guests and 802 crew, the passengers were originally scheduled to disembark at Yokohama Feb. 15, according to blog posts on Holland America Line’s website.
The ship has sufficient fuel and food provisions to last until the end of the voyage, according to an earlier Holland America Line blog post on its website.
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