The ship left Hong Kong on Feb. 1 on a 14-day cruise of East Asia. But rather than seeing the sights of the region, the ship’s 1,455 passengers have been stranded at sea, after Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and Guam all refused permission to land, citing concerns over the potential spread of the coronavirus.
That’s despite the ship’s operators insisting they have no reason to believe anyone on board is infected.
Now some passengers are getting desperate.
Scott Willett, whose 25-year-old daughter, Rebecca Willett, works as a classical pianist on the Westerdam, tweeted at President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday, urging them to intervene to find a solution.
Willett, a sales manager from Virginia Beach, Virginia, told VICE News that his daughter urgently needed to get off the ship, as she had become ill in recent days and was told by doctors she required an ultrasound to assess the issue and determine if she needs surgery.
“Everybody is stuck, and there’s no way to get the needed medical attention until they can go into port,” he said. “We’re hoping and praying that all of them can get off the ship.”
He said there was “a lot of frustration” on board as passengers remained in limbo, although his daughter and other performers had continued to work to try to “keep people distracted and give them something else to think about.”
Passengers were told Monday they would be allowed to disembark in Bangkok, but on Tuesday, Thailand’s Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul dashed those hopes, saying he had refused permission for the ship to dock. Thai officials said that instead they would provide fuel, medicine, and food to enable the ship to reach another destination.
Passengers on board the cruise liner tweeted their frustration Tuesday following reports they wouldn’t be disembarking in Thailand as expected.
“I can understand how despair can set in when hope is dashed,” tweeted one passenger after the news broke Tuesday. “Praying someone helps us out!!”