Cruise ship will arrive early in Juneau after canceled Asia sailings

The Holland America Cruise Ship Westerdam prepares to dock in Juneau July 16, 2012. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)
The Holland America Line cruise ship Westerdam prepares to dock in Juneau on July 16, 2012. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

A cruise ship that was turned away from multiple ports in Asia due to fear of spreading coronavirus will arrive in Juneau later this month.

Juneau City Manager Rorie Watt said he received confirmation Monday from Holland America Group that the Westerdam will depart the Philippines shortly and arrive in Juneau on or around March 22.

Holland America Line canceled the remainder of its sailings in Asia last month, citing concern over ports turning away cruise ships due to the spread of novel coronavirus.

One passenger from the Westerdam tested positive for the virus but has since been cleared. All passengers have now left the ship, and the crew has tested negative.

Juneau does not have any reported cases of coronavirus. Watt said he is not concerned about the ship’s arrival in Juneau.

“By the time it arrives in Juneau, the crew essentially will have been quarantined on the ship, with no entry or exit of other people for the better part of a month,” Watt said.

Watt said the city does not test visitors for infectious disease, but the crew will likely undergo additional testing when they arrive in Hawaii on their way to Juneau.

The crew will be allowed to get off the ship in Juneau once they arrive. The Westerdam will be moored at the AJ Dock near the Alaska Marine Lines shipyard.

“They probably are going to be doing maintenance projects and giving crew some shore leave,” Watt said. “I would imagine the crew’s probably pretty tired and stressed out from the whole situation.”

Holland America Line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With multiple cruise lines canceling sailings in Asia, other companies may also be considering earlier-than-normal visits to Southeast Alaska.

That would most likely mean ships that typically arrive later in the season would come earlier. But Watt said there is no truth to rumors that the Diamond Princess — the ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan — will come to Juneau.

He said the more immediate concern for coronavirus in Juneau is airline travel.

“It’s more likely that Juneau will experience a coronavirus case by virtue of our frequent airplane traffic in and out of the Pacific Northwest,” he said.

The governor of Washington state declared an emergency there on Saturday. The state saw the first confirmed death in the country from COVID-19 over the weekend.

According to Alaska Airlines representative Tim Thompson, there are no immediate impacts for passengers traveling between Alaska and Washington state.

The airline says it’s taking extra precautions by enhancing the disinfecting of planes and suspending onboard recycling and hot towel service in first class.


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