Thailand became the latest country to turn a Holland America Line cruise ship away from its ports, sparking concern for the 2,257 passengers and crew desperate to disembark after almost two weeks at sea.
Fearing some guests aboard the Westerdam may be infected with the deadly new coronavirus, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced in a short Facebook post Tuesday that he’s directed authorities to refuse entry into a port near Bangkok.
Operated by Holland America Line, a brand owned by Miami-based cruise giant Carnival Corp., the ship has been refused entry by at least three other ports. Guam, Manila and Yokohama sent it away on concerns over the virus, which has killed more than 1,000 people since it was first reported late last year in Wuhan, China.
The refusal and quarantine of cruise ships are the latest efforts by governments around the world seeking to contain the outbreak. Carnival’s Diamond Princess and its 3,700 passengers are quarantined in the port of Yokohama as authorities battle an increasing number of infections on board.
Onboard the Westerdam, some passengers took to social media after learning about Thailand’s refusal.
“We are actively working this matter and will provide an update when we are able,” Holland America Line said in a statement, adding it’s aware of the reports about Thailand’s refusal. “We know this is confusing for our guests and their families and we greatly appreciate their patience.”
In a blog post Monday evening, the operator announced the ship was headed to Laem Chabang port -- about 50 miles east of Bangkok -- where passengers would disembark and end their journey on Feb. 13.
Holland America Line has said that the vessel is not in quarantine and it has no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board. The ship’s plight is adding to Carnival’s woes sparked by the virus.
The Westerdam departed Hong Kong on Feb. 1 on a 14-day Taiwan and Japan cruise. With 1,455 guests and 802 crew, the passengers were originally scheduled to disembark at Yokohama Feb. 15, according to blog posts on Holland America Line’s website.
The ship has sufficient fuel and food provisions to last until the end of the voyage, according to an earlier Holland America Line blog post on its website.