A cruise ship from the United States that was blocked from docking at several ports in Asia due to concerns about the coronavirus has finally been able to anchor in Cambodia, signaling an end to the saga.
According to BBC.com, Holland America’s MS Westerdam departed from Hong Kong on February 1 as part of a 14-day voyage and was scheduled to conclude the sailing in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday when around 20 people onboard reported symptoms similar to coronavirus.
Instead, the 2,257 passengers and crew members aboard the Westerdam were denied entry at ports in Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand due to concerns related to the viral outbreak that killed at least 1,300 people in China.
Officials from Holland America said there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus on the Westerdam, giving Cambodian provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun the clearance needed to let the ship dock in Sihanoukville on Friday morning.
At the dock, medical professionals were waiting to conduct testing and buses were lined up to transport passengers to the local airport so they could board a connecting flight to Phnom Penh before traveling home.
Holland America announced it would foot the transportation bill for impacted customers.
“The permission to dock is to stop the disease of fear that is happening around the world,” Cambodian premier Hun Sen told local media outlets. “We must help them when they asked us for help.”
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Cruise Companies Should Continue to Invest in Sustainable Technology
Research from GlobalData shows that travelers remain committed to seeking out sustainable options when traveling and suggests that cruise companies keep their eye on the ball.
More than one-third (34 percent) of respondents to GlobalData’s Coronavirus Consumer Survey have said they are still interested in news about a brand’s sustainability initiatives, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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“The main priority for cruise companies at this moment is survival. This will rightly be the main focus until a sense of normality returns to the industry,” Ben Cordwell, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said. “However, companies need to be aware that throwing all their resources at this challenge could have serious repercussions in the long term.”
Cruise companies have increasingly relied on technological advances to operate in more environmentally friendly ways, including using cleaner fuels to curb emissions and reducing the cost of fuel. Cruises are also using digital capabilities that allow for analysis of weather conditions and the optimization of propulsion rate and speed.
Hurtigruten is one cruise line that is leading the way with sustainable practices. Last year, the line introduced its first hybrid vessel, the MS Roald Amundsen, and it has announced that it is converting three more of its existing ships to hybrid power, too.
After a reset to the travel industry as a whole due to the coronavirus pandemic, many consumers may look to move forward with vacations that put less stress on the environment.
“As the general public’s awareness of environmental damage increases, some travelers are likely to be reluctant to go on a holiday with a large carbon footprint,” added Cordwell. “Therefore, it is essential that cruise companies continue to invest in sustainable technology to ensure they continue to attract customers in the years to come.”
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