A Pacific cruise that a Michigan family had planned as a celebration of improved health and graduation from college is turning out to be more stressful than expected as the ship looks for a port that will take it amid global coronavirus concerns.
“We are floating around the ocean,” said Steve Muth, from Onsted, Michigan, who boarded Holland America’s MS Westerdam with his wife, Jane, and daughter Kate, and Kate’s boyfriend, Erik Deneau, Feb. 1. “We’ve been denied, essentially, every port, every country since leaving Hong Kong.”
There are no known cases of coronavirus on board despite reports to the contrary, the cruise line said, and the Westerdam is not in quarantine.
They had one stop in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, but otherwise, Steve Muth said, they’ve been floating at sea.
The worry among countries is that a new strain of coronavirus — which first appeared in China in December and has infected more than 37,000 people globally and killed 814 as of Sunday, according to the World Health Organization — will become a pandemic if not contained.
“I think we’re headed toward Vietnam, maybe Malaysia, Cambodia, not sure — they won’t tell us just yet,” he told the Detroit Free Press, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, in a phone interview Sunday from the ship. “We have no known cases onboard, but there’s just a lot of fear that someone may have it and bring it to their country.”
Holland America told USA TODAY Saturday that there are plans in the works for disembarkation soon.
“We can confirm that we have received preliminary approval for a port of disembarkation next week,” the cruise line confirmed in a statement provided by Erik Elvejord, its director of public relations, though it did not name the location.