Westerdam cruise ship no longer coming to Juneau

The Westerdam made an unscheduled stop in Juneau after cancelling other port calls due to bad weather.
The Westerdam in Juneau in 2013. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

The Westerdam is no longer coming to Juneau.

The Holland America Line cruise ship was slated to tie up at a private dock in downtown Juneau for two to three weeks before the start of the summer tourism season.

At a Juneau Assembly meeting Monday, City Manager Rorie Watt said he learned earlier in the day that the ship will no longer be coming to Juneau.

“The industry, I believe, are trying to figure out how and where to lay up ships until it becomes clear that they will be able to operate again,” Watt said.

The ship was due to arrive in Juneau in about a week.

In a statement, Holland America Line says it made the decision to send the ship to Puerto Vallarta instead of Juneau after last week’s decision to suspend global operations for one month.

Many of the cruise lines that visit Alaska in the summer have announced similar suspensions.

The Westerdam canceled the remainder of its sailings in Asia after it was turned away from ports there due to fears of coronavirus on board.

While the Westerdam had no confirmed cases at that time, an elderly passenger later tested positive for COVID-19 after the ship arrived in Cambodia. The same passenger tested negative two days later, and the company has maintained that the initial result was a false-positive, since all other passengers and crew also tested negative.

The ship departed the Philippines on March 2 with no passengers and about 700 crew. It arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, Monday and will be cleared by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection before continuing on to Mexico.

The Westerdam might have been the only large cruise ship Juneau could expect to see for the foreseeable future. The season was scheduled to begin in late April, but things have changed in light of the global pandemic.

“I think we’re all understanding that the Alaska cruise season is not starting in April as anticipated and is likely to not happen until at least July 1, if not much later,” Watt said. “And possibly not even this summer.”

On Friday, Canada announced it will close its ports to cruise ships until July 1.

That effectively shuts down Alaska’s early cruise season, since the foreign-flagged ships are required by law to stop in Canadian ports on their way to Alaska.

 

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