Cambodia has allowed the Westerdam luxury cruise liner to dock along its coast after Thailand became the fifth country or territory to turn away the ship over fears that people on board may be infected with the coronavirus. Holland American Line, the operator of the ship, said that the liner would dock in Cambodia’s coastal city of Sihanoukville early on 13 February.
The liner, with 1,455 passengers and crew on board, departed from Hong Kong on 1 Feb on a 14-day cruise that should have ended in Japan’s Yokohama. However, Tokyo rejected the ship, citing concerns that passengers could be infected with Covid-19. After that, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, and Guam also barred the vessel from docking along their shores.
Unlike the Diamond Princess liner, which is now under quarantine in Japan and where 175 passengers have contracted the virus, there’s been no confirmed case on the Westerdam ship. Holland American Line has said that all passengers and the crew are healthy. But this was apparently not enough to persuade the authorities of the above mentioned countries and territories. Despite the fact that there are more than 600 US citizens on board the cruise liner, the governor of Guam, a US territory in Micronesia, said: "While we feel for every soul on board the MS Westerdam, our obligation is to protect the people of Guam. We respect that Guam has a duty to the nation we love, but that duty cannot jeopardize the health and safety of our people".
The ship’s operator said that it would pay for the passengers’ flights to their home countries and refund the cost of the cruise.