Cambodian authorities have granted clearance to Holland America Line’s cruise ship Westerdam to begin disembarkation of passengers in Sihanoukville today.
As informed, the Cambodian Health Ministry announced that the 20 samples taken onboard Westerdam have all been confirmed as negative for coronavirus by the Pasteur Laboratory in Phnom Penh.
There were never any suspected cases of coronavirus on board the 82,862 GT ship, the US-based cruise line pointed out.
Following a two-week ordeal at sea, Westerdam was allowed to dock in Cambodia after it was turned away from several other disembarkation ports due to the coronavirus threat.
“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,” according to the company.
“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,” Stein Kruse, Group CEO, Holland America Group and Carnival UK, commented.
“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.”
The first passengers already disembarked and are on their way home, the US Embassy Cambodia said.
The first passengers are off the #Westerdam and headed home! We’re happy to greet them as they step onto dry land. Thank you to the government of #Cambodia who helped this happen. pic.twitter.com/VPRcLIFChe
— US Embassy Cambodia (@USEmbPhnomPenh) February 14, 2020
Holland America Line added that flight details are being communicated to guests as they are finalized, and it is expected that full disembarkation will take a few days given the charter flight schedule.
Westerdam was on a fourteen-day cruise that departed Hong Kong on February 1, 2020, with 1,455 guests and 802 crew on board. The cruise was previously scheduled to disembark on February 15 at Yokohama, Japan.