'Cruise to nowhere' nearly over for Ottawa couple as ship denied entry to five ports finally docks
OTTAWA -- A cruise ship that has repeatedly been refused permission to dock by several countries over fears about the COVID-19 virus has arrived in Cambodia but passengers still aren’t able to disembark.
Ottawa's Pierre Boucher said the Westerdam arrived early Thursday morning local time but the ship was “given an order to remain away from port until medical and immigration teams got on board.”
Boucher said passengers had to fill out medical information forms and had to obtain visas which Holland America Line paid for.
Boucher said they were on “virtual anchorage for 10 hours” before the ship received permission to dock at the port of Sihanoukville.
Still, Boucher says the Cambodian government will not allow any passenger or crew to disembark or go to the airport just yet.
Still, “morale is high as it appears that the end of our cruise to nowhere in the South China Sea is near.”
Boucher and his wife are among the 1,455 passengers aboard the Westerdam that left Hong Kong on Feb. 1.
Although there are no cases or suspected cases of the coronavirus, now called COVID-19, on the Westerdam, the ship has been turned away from the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and Guam.
In a tweet, Holland America Line said any guests or crew who went to the ship's medical centre for any reason are being screened for COVID-19.
On its website, the cruise company says it “will arrange and pay for all flights home, in addition to the full cruise refund and 100% future cruise credit already communicated.”