Sources confirm that the MS Westerdam is on its way to Juneau from Asia. Its cruise season in Asia has been cancelled due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). According to a February 20, 2020 post on Holland America’s website, they cancelled their March and April Asia cruises due to the uncertainty of ports accepting cruise ships in Asia.
An internal Juneau Borough email obtained by the Landmine confirms the ship is on its way to Alaska. According to the email the ship will arrive in Juneau around March 17. It also says that no one on the ship has tested positive for the virus. The ship is slowly making its way to Hawaii and will then head to Alaska. It will be tied up at the dock until the Alaska cruise season starts. Here is an excerpt from the email:
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In other interesting news, it looks like the Holland America Westerdam will be visiting us soon. You may recall that this is the ship that was believed to have COVID19 exposure and was denied access to a number of Asian ports, but that it had no positive cases on board. The Westerdam was eventually granted entry to Cambodia and then after passengers departed it was believed that one passenger actually did have COVID19. But then, after repeated testing, it was determined that that passenger was not infected. In summary, after a lot of concern, no cases were ever confirmed on board.
The company has cancelled all of the Westerdam’s Asian cruises and has tested all of the Westerdam crew (all negative). The ship is slowly transiting the Pacific and is planned to clear customs into the US (Honolulu) early this week. Holland America’s tentative plan is to bring the ship to Juneau to tie up to the AJ Dock with the about 400-500 crew on board and be here for 2-3 weeks before the Alaskan cruise season starts. Arrival is estimated to be around 3/17 or so. The arrival of the ship is still tentative, if it is confirmed, we will do public media outreach. It will be an unusual opportunity to welcome and host the crew visitors while they are here.
I reached out to Holland America and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Alaska for a comment. I have not been able to reach them. I will update the story with more information as it becomes available.
Featured image of Westerdam courtesy of Holland America website.