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Westerdam cleared for disembarkation in Cambodia

Holland America Line thanked Cambodian officials for 'making decisions based on facts.' Disembarkation will take place over several days owing to flight schedules
Cambodia authorized Holland America Line's Westerdam to disembark passengers after finding no evidence of coronavirus on board.

The Cambodian Health Ministry gave the go-ahead after taking samples from 20 people on the ship who were unwell. The samples tested negative for coronavirus at the Pasteur Laboratory in Phnom Penh.

Disembarkation is set to begin Friday morning in Sihanoukville and is expected to take several days, owing to air schedules.

Decisions based on facts

‘We sincerely thank all those in Cambodia who have demonstrated a willingness to welcome us with an open mind and make decisions based on facts,’ Holland America said in a statement.

Holland America had repeatedly communicated there were never any suspected cases of coronavirus on the ship. And yet Westerdan was barred from calling at Japan and Thailand. The basis for Japan’s denial is not clear, while Thailand apparently bowed to social media pressure.

International effort

Stein Kruse, group CEO, Hollland America Group and Carnival UK, added: ‘We also extend our deepest gratitude to President Trump, Cambodia’s Honorable Prime Minister Hun Sen, Canadian Foreign Minister Champagne, elected officials across the country and governments around the world for providing support and being effective allies in bringing our guests home.

Erroneous information

‘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,’ 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.’

Holland America is communicating flight details as they are finalized. Charters are being arranged to Phnom Penh for onward travel home. The line is covering the cost of homeward travel, fully refunding the cruise fare and giving a 100% future cruise credit.

Domino effect

Westerdam was on a 14-day cruise that departed Hong Kong Feb.1. The cruise was originally scheduled to disembark Feb. 15 at Yokohama, Japan.

Westerdam was first barred from Japan and had to bypass a stop at Manila when the Philippines issued, on short notice, a new blanket policy denying entry to vessels that had been in China within the past 14 days. (Other cruise lines were also impacted by the Philippines' decision.) 

Approval to disembark at Thailand was subsequently rescinded. Guam had preemptively barred the ship; it was not on Westerdam's schedule.

Praise for the crew

‘We hope that guests on this voyage will join us again and sincerely thank them for the many compliments we have received for our crew and the acknowledgements that this situation was out of our control,’ the line said.

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