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COVID-19: Unwanted cruise ship to finally disembark in Cambodia

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    The MS Westerdam in Costa in Mexico, 2009.
The MS Westerdam in Costa in Mexico, 2009.   -  
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Flickr/Roger Wollstadt
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A cruise ship carrying more than 1,450 passengers has been allowed to dock in Cambodia after being turned away from four other ports in Asia over coronavirus fears.

The MS Westerdam will dock in Sihanoukville, Cambodia at 07:00 am local time on Thursday.

Passengers will be able to disembark over the following days and transfer via charter flights to the country's capital, Phnom Penh, from where they'll be allowed to fly home.

"All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support," operator Holland America Line said in a statement.

The boat departed Hong Hong on February 1 with 1,455 guests and 802 crew on board for a 14-day Taiwan and Japan cruise scheduled to end in the Japanese city of Yokohama on February 15.

But Japanese authorities notified the company on February 6 that it would not allow the boat to make its scheduled stops in Ishigaki Island, Naha, Okinawa, Nagasaki and Fukuoka despite Holland America Line stressing at the time that there were known cases of coronavirus on board.

The ship briefly stayed off the coast of Japan in a holding pattern before sailing for Taiwan, where it was turned away. The Philippines and Thailand also refused entry to the ship.

"All guests on board are healthy and despite erroneous reports there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, not have their (sic) ever been," Holland America Line said in its statement.

The company also announced it would pay for its passengers' flights home and refund the full cost of the cruise. It has also cancelled another cruise scheduled to embark from Yokohama on February 15.

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