The government of Thailand has denied a Dutch-based cruise ship entry to its ports over coronavirus fears, despite the fact that no one on board has any signs of the illness that has killed at least 1,018 people and sickened over 43,000 globally.
The cruise ship, identified as the MS Westerdam, has previously been denied entry by three other ports, including in the Phillippines, Guam, and Japan, and it’s not clear where the ship will go next.
The Dutch ship, operated by Holland America and owned by parent company Carnival in Miami, reportedly has 1,455 passengers and 802 crewmembers, and the ship’s captain told passengers on Monday night they would be arriving in Thailand on February 13. But that plan appears to have been scuttled by Thai health authorities.
“I have issued orders. Permission to dock refused,” Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced Tuesday on Facebook, according to an English translation by Channel News Asia.
Multiple reports insist that no one on the cruise ship is believed to have the novel coronavirus, though the ship did originally depart on February 1 from Hong Kong, which has at least 49 confirmed cases.
The cruise was scheduled to make stops in Taiwan and Japan before ending its voyage in Yokohama, Japan, but another high-profile ship is currently docked in Yokohama under strict quarantine with over 100 cases.
Some passengers have taken to social media to express their frustration with the situation:
Definitely stressful.we have been at sea 14 days as of this Friday. We have no passengers sick in any way. Westerdam is a ship of primarily US, Australian, British cruisers with no contact with mainland China other than to land in Hong Kong and go straight to our ship. #westerdam
— AJ (@Mountain_AJ) February 11, 2020
Carnival Cruise Line has previously said that it will refund all passengers for the 14-day cruise, but didn’t have much information to share with Gizmodo early Tuesday morning.
“We are aware of the reports regarding the status of Westerdam’s call to Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand,” the company said in an emailed statement to Gizmodo. “We are actively working this matter and will provide an update when we are able. We know this is confusing for our guests and their families and we greatly appreciate their patience.”
At least two cruise ships have been quarantined around the world during the outbreak, including the World Dream in Hong Kong, and the Diamond Princess in Yokohama, Japan, while itineraries for other cruises have been diverted from planned trips in southeast Asia.
With cases of the virus continuing to skyrocket in China, and spreading to other parts of the world (including the U.S.), the cruise industry as a whole better prepare for rough seas ahead.
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