After nearly fortnight discard in search of a port that might take them, passengers aboard the MS Westerdam cruise liner spoke of an ordeal that was anything but harrowing.
“Everyone says ‘poor you’. But there was no poor you. We had free internet and free wine. We had three-course meals. There was such a lot choice,” said Zahra Jennings, a retired staff nurse from Britain.
How was it? “Lovely,” she said.
“They ran out of hash browns a few of days ago, and spaghetti sauce . But that was it.”
- Robert Sayers, passenger
The 1,544 passengers and 802 crew had never expected a port stop in Hong Kong to metastasize into full-blown fear that a number of the ship’s passengers carried the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, late last year and has killed quite 1,500 people.
Turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand, it had been Cambodia that finally let the lost ship dock and it had been discovered there that none of the passengers was infected.
The only complaint aboard? “They ran out of hash browns a few of days ago, and spaghetti sauce ,” said Robert Sayers, a 60-year-old chemical company employee from New Zealand. “But that was it. it had been fine, really.”
Cruise ships around Asia face widespread fears they’ll be spreading the virus since it had been found aboard the Diamond Princess that’s now at anchor in Yokohama and where 218 of the passengers are diagnosed with the virus.
Vietnam turned back two ships on Friday.
It was Valentine Day when the primary passengers disembarked from the Westerdam. The prime minister, Hun Sen, flew in from the capital, shaking hands with passengers and handing out roses. officialdom draped “Welcome to Cambodia” banners on buses. All passengers got free visas.
Hun Sen, an authoritarian ruler condemned by Western countries for human rights abuses said: “Our current disease round the world is fear and discrimination,” he said. “If Cambodia didn’t allow this ship to dock, where should these 2,000 passengers go?”
Holland America sent letters to all or any passengers saying it might reimburse the value of the cruise, give them another free 14-day cruise, and charter them flights home. the corporate , it said, would do its best to match the category of flight that they had originally booked.
“This was my best cruise ever.”
- Pierre Ashby, passenger
The cruise had been scheduled to finish in Shanghai on Saturday. In Shanghai it had been 14 Celsius, overcast and raining. In Sihanoukville, it had been 27C and sunny.
Holland America arranged free coaches to a close-by beach for the stranded passengers, across the road from the villa where Hun Sen stays in Sihanoukville and surrounded by Chinese casinos.
“This was my best cruise ever,” said retired Canadian engineer Pierre Ashby. “Usually you purchase a cruise and you recognize exactly what you’re getting to get. This was an adventure.”
His wife was sitting beside him during a yellow swimsuit with two red roses. Barefoot within the sand, he smiled and gestured bent sea.