A cruise line is reportedly requesting help from the US Navy after a ship with 1,455 passengers, including a couple from Adelaide, has been denied entry to Japan after days sailing “around in circles” in the South China Sea.
- A cruise ship is denied port entry in Japan after being turned away from Manilla
- South Korea has also fallen off the itinerary for a port of call in five days’ time
- The captain tells passengers the cruise line is in talks with the US Navy, although no known cases of coronavirus are on board
After being denied a scheduled stop in Philippines earlier this week, due to fears passengers may be carrying the coronavirus, the ship was making its way slowly to Japan.
Adelaide businessman David Holst said he and his wife, Judy, felt “homeless, unwanted and unloved” after the captain of the Westerdam announced they had been denied port again.
He said a scheduled stop in South Korea in five days’ time had disappeared from their itinerary as well.
“But if you were in Adelaide and someone announced that a cruise boat that had been in Hong Kong or China six days ago was calling in tomorrow, and 3,000 people were going to go shopping and eating and roaming around your city, there would be uproar from the people of South Australia,” Mr Holst told ABC Radio Adelaide via phone.
“Governments have to protect their citizens, so Japan has refused, the Philippines have refused, I think Korea refused yesterday and Taiwan threw us out.
“At this point in time, we are officially abandoned at sea with nowhere to go.”
He said the captain also advised them that Holland America Line was speaking with “the US Department of State and the US Navy to work out where the boat will go now”.
“He said we have enough food and fuel for the rest of the journey, but he doesn’t know where the journey is to,” Mr Holst said.
Cruise ship ‘not in quarantine’
A statement from Holland America confirmed the ship had been denied entry to Japanese ports, having been scheduled to visit Ishigaki Island, Naha, Okinawa, Nagasaki and Fukuoka before a scheduled stop at Yokohama on February 15.
It said the ship was “not in quarantine and there were no known cases of coronavirus on board at this time”.
“We are quickly working to develop alternate plans and are keeping guests updated on board as information becomes available,” the statement said.
“The next cruise that was scheduled to embark in Yokohama on February 15 has been cancelled.”
Another cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, which is docked at Yokohama, today confirmed there were 61 cases of coronavirus infection on board and 3,700 people were under quarantine for two weeks.
Passengers, which included 223 Australians, were confined to their cabins.
For the moment, passengers aboard the Westerdam are free to roam the ship but Mr Holst suspected that could change and people may be confined to their cabins as well.
“We don’t know what’s happening yet, but that’s got to be high up in the options,” he said.
Company forewarned of risks
Mr Holst said the ship was refused entry to its original port in Manilla because it made a scheduled stopover in Hong Kong, which was not subject to the same travel restrictions as China, to allow passengers to get off and new passengers to embark.
He said he emailed the cruise ship operators, Holland America, four times before the stopover in Hong Kong to warn of the problems it could create due to the emergency situation unfolding in China, but it fell on deaf ears.
“It doesn’t make me clever to have forewarned of this situation,” Mr Holst said.
“Blind Freddy could see it coming if the virus kept escalating, as it was.”
The Westerdam was on a 14-day Taiwan and Japan cruise that departed Hong Kong on February 1.
Some 687 guests, including David and Judy Holst, were already on board when they landed in Hong Kong because they were continuing from a previous cruise.
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