Luxury liner limbo: Stranded at sea by virus fears
A NOOSA couple are all at sea aboard a luxury cruise ship that is being denied a port of call in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Marsha and Frank Milat of Noosaville are riding out the worldwide health scare as Thailand became the fifth country to deny entry to the Westerdam which departed from Hong Kong on February 1 for a 14-day cruise to Taiwan and Japan.
An update from the World Health Organisation said Thai officials might board the ship to investigate the passengers' health conditions "to determine whether they would be allowed to eventually disembark in Thailand."
Mrs Milat said the couple are passengers of the Holland America owned liner "cruising the South China Sea waiting to be accepted so we can disembark".
"There is no coronavirus on board and we are all in good health," Mrs Milat emailed.
"We are being well looked after and would like to assure everyone that Holland America is doing everything possible to ensure our safe return home."
The Milats said they have been supplied with free internet and have had a full refund of the cruise and have been granted a 100 per cent discount for a future cruise.
To date the ship's 1455 guests and 802 crew members have also been turned away by Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and the US territory of Guam.
Reuters reported that Thailand's public health minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, directed officials to prevent the Westerdam's passengers from getting off in Laem Chabang and posted on Facebook, "I have issued orders. Permission to dock refused."
A Holland America statement said: "The ship has sufficient fuel and food provisions to last until the end of the voyage, this is a very dynamic situation as we continue to manage around evolving and changing restrictions in the region."
The coronavirus, which has claimed more than 1000 lives, has now been officially renamed by WHO as covid-19.