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Cruise Ship Denied by Multiple Ports Finally Finds a Place to Disembark

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The Holland America vessel MS Westerdam may finally have caught a break after having been turned away from ports in the Philippines and Japan in light of concerns surrounding the possible spread of the new coronavirus, which have caused other passenger cruise ships in the region to be quarantined.

Holland America Line (HAL) has reportedly confirmed to Fox News the Westerdam will be permitted to dock at Laem Chabang, Thailand, on February 13, 2020, and its presumably vexed passengers and crew finally allowed to disembark.

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Westerdam’s was originally scheduled to finish out its itinerary on February 14 by docking in Yokohama, but was left high and dry when Japan decided to deny the ship entry at all Japanese ports. HAL was left looking for ways to patch up the plan and identify a cruise port in the region where passengers, who were then stuck at sea, could disembark.

At no time had the Westerdam been placed under quarantine and HAL has stated that there has been no indication whatsoever of a coronavirus case aboard the vessel, despite reports that Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, suspected the ship of carrying the infection.

HAL also stated that it would be refunding 100 percent of passengers’ trip fares and issuing 100-percent cruise credits to be used towards a future departure. While effectively stranded aboard the ship, passengers have also been provided free phone and internet access for the duration of the voyage.

A HAL spokesperson told Fox News, “Following the disembarkation of guests, Westerdam will depart Laem Chabang. The future voyage plan between cruises is still being finalized. The February 15 cruise scheduled to embark in Yokohama has been canceled. No cancellations for cruises with departure dates beyond February 15 have been announced at this time. However, we are assessing the impact of current port restrictions in Asia on cruises departing February 29 or later. We will communicate details as they become finalized in the next few days.”

For more information, visit HollandAmerica.com.

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Cruises

AmaWaterways’ Rudi Schreiner Optimistic About River Cruising’s Rebound

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AmaWaterways President and Co-Founder Rudi Schreiner is optimistic that the river cruise industry will rebound once the coronavirus outbreak dissipates.

“Once everything is over people often forget quickly,” he told TravelPulse. “There will be pent-up demand, but the question now is when does it start up again?”

AmaWaterways has suspended river cruise operations until May 31 but is protecting travel agent commissions on canceled departures and paying 10 percent again when the agents’ clients rebook using future cruise credits (valued at 115 percent of the initial payments). That commitment is valued, especially since this is one of the direst situations in memory for travel.

“This is for sure one of the most severe situations we’ve ever had,” Schreiner said. “It is worse than 9/11 and worse than some of the terrorist attacks.”

For river cruising, this situation is worse than 9/11 because that attack occurred in September when most of the river cruise season was over – not at the beginning of the season like it is now.

“So, 9/11 was huge but didn’t affect European river cruising as strongly,” he said. “The most intense time for us personally was the first two weeks of March this year. Ships were ready, crews were onboard, provisions were ready” and then the virus spread across parts of Europe. The season was suspended.

“Once that was done, you at least had a clear picture ahead of you,” Schreiner said.

That doesn’t mean work is over for the time being. Schreiner is working out of his home in Westlake Village, Calif., and “right now we are busy on daily conference calls with the management team, individual calls with departments and so on. It’s very busy, and it’s getting organized, sorting through the whole thing. If we don’t cruise this entire season, we’ll make it through.”

That’s because Schreiner said AmaWaterways’ 25 ships are all paid off and funding in place will carry the company through.

“My worst-case scenario over the last 6-7 years, when our fleet became bigger, was because of such extreme low water we cannot cruise for a season,” he said. “In 2018, we had low water through the whole season. If it would get to an extreme level and we couldn’t cruise for a season, that’s why I always wanted to be as debt-free as possible. For many, many years, every penny we made went back into the company and our last 12 ships were completely paid in cash. Now everything is paid off.”

The company also is focused on its staff members. “We’re trying to maintain pretty much all our staff in our offices in Calabasas (Calif.), Dallas, Basel (Switzerland), and London,” Schreiner said. But European nations often operate differently. In Switzerland, for example, the government wants people to continue working and will pay 80 percent of the workers’ salaries, he explained.

When river cruise does rebound, it likely won’t get the same kind of fear that ocean companies are likely to face – such as being quarantined or turned away from countries. River ships are always close to land and don’t sail in international waters, so can’t be turned away from a country.

“On the river, you’re always within a country, you’re not coming from international waters,” he said. “It’s a different environment. Small-ship cruising will continue, and expedition cruising will continue. Ocean cruising may take longer, but I think it will also come back.”

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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