A cruise ship has been denied entry by Japanese authorities and is now in a “holding pattern” off the southeast coast of Okinawa over fears of coronavirus.
The MS Westerdam left Singapore on January 16 for what should have been a 30-day cruise around Asia. But after leaving Hong Kong on February 1, the ship has been turned away from ports in the Philippines and Taiwan due to fears that there may be coronavirus cases on board.
In Hong Kong, the ship disembarked 1,254 guests and embarked 768 guests before departing on Saturday, the cruise company Holland America Line (HAL) said.
There is no suggestion that any passengers, current or former, have been infected, the cruise company said on Twitter.
On Thursday, the Japanese government said that it would not allow the Westerdam to call anywhere in their territory.
The ship planned to make stops in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and finally China but had revised the ship’s final destination from Shanghai to Yokohama following the warning by US CDC on January 28th, according to the company.
Australian passenger David Holst, 63, is traveling on the Westerdam with his wife Judy.
"No one wants us," Holst told CNN from the cruise ship. "Holland America said they're in discussions with the US State Department, the US Navy, and the Dutch government to try and find a solution. I have no idea what that will be or when that would be."
Holst said he and his wife had spent more than $20,000 on the trip, including flights. But he said the past six or seven days had been a "nightmare."
"It keeps getting worse and everyone on board is just living in fear that the bell is going to ring and the captain is going to say, 'Return to your cabins, we're in quarantine and we've got a virus case on board,'" he said.