Hundreds of cruise ship passengers cheered as they disembarked the ship in Cambodia on Friday following days of being stranded at sea as several nations refused them entry amid fears of the coronavirus.
Around 500 passengers aboard the MS Westerdam disembarked at the port of Sihanoukville Friday morning after the country’s leader agreed to allow the ship to dock after being rejected by Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen handed flowers to the departing passengers, who were put on buses to take them to an airport where they will continue their journey home.
Holland America, which operates the vessel, said 20 samples taken on board the ship came back negative for the virus.
The company maintained throughout the ship’s journey that no cases had been confirmed among its 2,200 passengers and crew. The assurances couldn’t convince the four Asian governments that barred the vessel amid fears the virus could spread within their borders.
“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,” said Stein Kruse, the CEO of Holland America Group and Carnival UK.
The released passengers were seen waving to those on the ship’s deck as they left the area.
The illness, officially known as COVID-19, has killed more than 1,400 people worldwide and sickened more than 64,000 others. The vast majority of the cases are in mainland China, where the virus first began in the Hubei province.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.