by Eric Hoem
Our experiences aboard the MS Westerdam took a surprising turn yesterday when a Thai military ship showed up alongside and escorted us to a naval station. Two days ago we were told that we could stop in the port serving Bangkok and begin disembarkation, but yesterday the permission was revoked. After half a day of discussions and the naval station, the denial was confirmed and we had to sail onward. That raises to five the number of countries who have been reported to have refused to let our ship dock because of worries over the coronavirus: The Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, and now Thailand.
At present, we are in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where we hope the disembarkation process can begin. We have been told that inspectors are onboard to confirm there are no cases of coronavirus on the ship. After approval, we will dock and then slowly be transferred via charter aircraft to an international airport for our return home. This will take several days and we all will simply wait our turn as individual travel arrangements are completed. Holland America is Handling all the details and covering all the costs.
In all ways the cruise line has been generous with us passengers and the crew most accommodating. Yesterday at a farewell function in the mail theater—which was packed, by the way—crew members marched in to the tune “We Are Family,” and the passengers gave them a standing ovation.
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article by Eric Hoem
My wife and I are on board the MS Westerdam, a Holland America cruise ship, in the South China Sea. Our ship has been unable to get into a port for five days due to the coronavirus outbreak in China and spread of the disease.
Our last port of call was Kaihshiung, Taiwan. Since then, we have been denied entrance into Japan where four stops were planned and our disembarkation in Yokohama Was to occur. Fortunately there is no case of the virus on board and so we continue to enjoy the benefits of being on a cruise ship, unlike the confined passengers aboard the Diamond Princess currently in
What is it like on board the Westerdam not knowing where and when we will be able to disembark and head home? Uncertainty is a difficult problem to deal with, but so far the crew and cruise line have done a very good job. The captain comes on the speaker system a couple times each day with updates. For us passengers, the main outlet has been the guessing gamed of where we will end up. Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City? My wife, Shirley, continue to hop for Hawaii.
Rumors also abound. One was started by a couple passengers who posted their surgically masked faces to the effect that we had a case of coronavirus onboard. This occurred just as we were being denied entry into Japanese ports, and many suspect that the false report may have influenced Japanese officials who were already dealing with the 61 cases of the disease on the Diamond Princess.
Source: Eric & Shirley Hoem. 2.10.20