Cambodian authorities granted clearance to the Westerdam to begin disembarking passengers on Feb. 14 in Sihanoukville, after the Cambodian Health Ministry said 20 samples taken from passengers onboard the ship were all confirmed to be negative for the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Holland America said it expects a full disembarkation to take a few days given the charter flight schedule and that during this time, passengers will remain onboard with full service.
Holland America, which reiterated that there were never any suspected cases of Covid-19 onboard, thanked Cambodian officials for "a willingness to welcome us with an open mind and make decisions based on facts." The Westerdam is on a 14-day cruise that departed Hong Kong Feb. 1 and was previously scheduled to disembark Feb. 15 in Yokohama, Japan. It was turned away by five Asian countries -- the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam and Thailand -- before Cambodia agreed to let it dock.
"We are pleased with the successful resolution of this challenging journey that was complicated by unfounded fears stemming from erroneous information with respect to the medical condition of Westerdam's guests and crew," Stein Kruse, Group CEO for Holland America and Carnival U.K., said in a statement. "This has all been a terrible and unfortunate misunderstanding that has impacted 2,257 people onboard and hundreds of others shoreside who have worked 24/7 to get our guests home."
Holland America Line is covering all homeward travel for passengers as well as a 100% refund of their cruise fare and an additional 100% future cruise credit.