April 6, 2020

Cruise headaches in Asia

Holland America’s Westerdam was forced to change its itinerary several times before finally docking in Cambodia.

Cruise lines are scrambling to adjust itineraries as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 dominating the news from China and parts of Asia. Most passengers and crew have disembarked the Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama and all passengers have left Holland America Line’s Westerdam in Cambodia.

Approximately six hundred passengers from the Diamond Princess disembarked the ship on Wednesday and with the end of the quarantine the balance of the passengers are expected to leave over the next few days. More than half of the cases (634) outside China were from the 116,000 ton vessel. Two passengers from the Diamond Princess died from virus.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian government is questioning Malaysia’s testing of one Westerdam passenger. After an earlier positive result of the 83-year old American woman, subsequent tests have all been negative. The woman is still being kept in hospital due to ongoing symptoms.

The Westerdam, carrying over 1450 passengers, docked at the southwestern port of Sihanoukville in Cambodia last week after being turned away from several Asian ports. The ship departed Hong Kong February 1st for a 14-day cruise that was to end in Japan however the government denied entry in fears one of the passengers was infected with the virus. The Cambodian Ministry of Health issue a dstatement yesterday confirming all passengers and crew tested negative for the virus and were cleared to travel hom. All testing was conducted by the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh.

Due to the uncertainty of ports accepting cruise ships in Asia, Holland America Line has decided to cancel Westerdam’s four March and April 2020 Asia cruises.

The cancelled cruises include:
• March 14–28, 14-day South Korea and Japan, sailing roundtrip Yokohama, Japan.
• March 28–April 11, 14-day Japan Explorer, sailing roundtrip Yokohama.
• April 11–25, 14-day Japan and Russia, sailing roundtrip Yokohama.
• April 25–May 10, 16-day North Pacific Crossing, sailing Yokohama to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Details and itineraries regarding Westerdam deployment through early May will be provided in the coming days.

Holland America Line has been closely monitoring the very fluid and evolving situation with respect to the ability to successfully operate cruise itineraries in Asia due to the regional concerns surrounding COVID-19. We never want to disappoint our guests, however we are not confident that we could deliver a cruise experience that meets their expectations.

All guests will receive a full refund of the cruise fare paid. Each guest will also receive a future cruise credit of 25-50% of fare paid depending on the departure date and reimbursement of any travel cancellation fees.

Anne Vipond About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.