American passengers alight on the Westerdam cruise ship and receive Valentine’s Day kiss from the PM of Cambodia
Jubilant American passengers were greeted today with Valentine’s Day flowers and kisses from the Cambodian Prime Minister, when they finally disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship after being stranded for two weeks by fear of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Hun Sen presented red roses and embraced some of the 1500 passengers who flew out of the ship after they were sent away from five countries, despite no cases of deadly contamination on board.
They agreed that the Westerdam docked at the port of Sihanoukville yesterday after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam had blocked the ship.
The ship’s galleries were filled with cheering passengers as Mr. Hun’s helicopter shot onto the tarmac on Friday afternoon before he greeted them and delivered a speech.
Mr. Hun said: ‘Although Cambodia is a poor country, Cambodia has always been a member of the international community to solve the problems that the world and our region are facing. If Cambodia is not allowed to dock this ship here, where should this ship go?
A jubilant American passenger sat down on his knees and clasped his hands to express his gratitude today, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to dock Westerdam after five countries blocked the fear of coronavirus. A hand dispenser with alcohol was placed at the end of the runway
Prime Minister Hun Sen hands over a flower on Valentine’s Day as he greets a passenger arriving in Sihanoukville. They agreed that the Westerdam would dock at the port of Sihanoukville on Thursday after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam had blocked the ship
Passengers respond after they have returned from MS Westerdam, back, to the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Mr. Hun plunged in with a helicopter this afternoon as the ship’s galleries full of passengers waved flags and cheered before about 1500 left the cruise ship.
Mr. Hun hands over roses to Cambodian passengers who leave the huge ship today
Mr. Hun plunged in with a helicopter this afternoon as the ship’s galleries full of passengers waved flags and cheered before about 1500 walked off the cruise ship
Mr. Hun made it clear that he was not worried about the virus, while planting a kiss on the cheek of a passenger while handing her a Valentine’s Day rose. A strong supporter of China, Mr. Hun has played down every threat of the new virus and, unlike other Asian countries, has refused to ban direct flights between Cambodia and China, saying that this would disrupt bilateral relations and the economy of would harm his country.
“I want to let the Cambodians and the world know that I am coming here even for a short time, this means no time for discrimination and fear, but a time for everyone to solve in solidarity the problems we are now facing.”
The boat was not welcome, although operator Holland America Line said no cases of the viral disease Covid-19 were confirmed among 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members.
About 20 passengers had reported stomach pain or fever, but tests for the virus at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh showed that no one had the disease.
A passenger, on the right, is being hugged by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen after she boarded from MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, in the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia
A young Westerdam cruise ship holds up a sign thanks to Cambodia on one of the arranged buses after alighting in Sihanoukville
Passengers aboard the Westerdam cruise ship wave in Sihanoukville
The Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia, in the middle, gives a flower to a passenger who has come from MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, in the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia
A Twitter message from Westerdam passenger Christina Kerby (@ChristinaKerby) shows people standing on the deck of the cruise ship after being docked in the port in Sihanoukville
The passengers cheered as they walked to waiting buses and waved goodbye to other passengers looking from the deck of the ship.
“How wonderful to be here. Thank you very much to the prime minister. He has a great heart, “said Anna Marie Melon, from Queensland, Australia.
A strong supporter of China, Mr. Hun has played down every threat of the new virus and, unlike other Asian countries, has refused to ban direct flights between Cambodia and China, saying that this would disrupt bilateral relations and the economy of would harm his country.
ambodian prime minister Hun Sen (left C) distributes roses to passengers leaving the MS Westerdam cruise ship at a seaport in Preah Sihanouk province, Cambodia
Passengers leave the MS Westerdam cruise ship in a seaport in the province of Preah Sihanouk, Cambodia
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomes a passenger from MS Westerdam, a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being sent away by five countries because of the fear that someone on board would have the corona virus because it is docking in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Passengers leave the MS Westerdam cruise ship in a seaport in the province of Preah Sihanouk
Mang Sineth, vice-governor in Preah Sihanouk province, told reporters that 414 passengers will leave the port on Friday and fly to the capital of Cambodia before traveling to their final destinations.
Three flights from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh were arranged to transport all passengers on the ship.
The Westerdam began its cruise in Singapore last month and the last stop before it was denied was in Hong Kong, where 53 cases of the disease and one death have been confirmed.
Jubilant passengers react when they disembark from the Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville
Passengers who disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship board a bus in Sihanoukville
Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia, arrives in a helicopter next to the docked Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville, while hundreds of people watch from the balconies