Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall confirmed yesterday that the Holland America owned MS Westerdam cruise ship, which has been turned away from Thailand and other nations in the region over coronavirus fears, is set to dock at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port this morning.
Provincial police Chief Major General Chuon Narin also confirmed that the ship will arrive in Sihanoukville at 7am today but did not provide more details.
A senior government official who declined to be named told local media yesterday that passengers on the ship will be given medical checks before being allowed to disembark the ship and will be provided visas free of charge. The official said it was a humanitarian act.
The official said the approval was made after it was found that none of passengers are infected with the COVID-19 which is WHO’s new official name for the Novel Coronavirus.
A statement released on behalf of MS Westerdam said yesterday that the ship will remain in port for several days for disembarkation and guests will be able to go ashore.
“All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support,” it said.
The MS Westerdam, which is owned by the Holland America Line has been turned away from Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines due to fears over the spread of COVID-19.
It was on a 14-day Taiwan and Japan cruise that departed Hong Kong on February 1 with 1,455 guests and 802 crew members on board.
“Guests will disembark in Sihanoukville over the next few days and transfer via charter flights to Phnom Penh for forward travel home,” the ship’s statement said. “Holland America Line will arrange and pay for all flights home, in addition to the full cruise refund and 100% future cruise credit already agreed.”
It noted that all guests on board are healthy and despite erroneous reports there are no known or suspected cases of the coronavirus on board.