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2 cruise ships turned away by other ports head to Honolulu

HONOLULU - Two cruise ships turned away by other ports are headed to Honolulu. There are no positive cases of coronavirus on either ship, state officials said.

Holland America Line’s Maasdam cruise ship, which had its port call for Hilo, Hawaii cancelled, will disembark in Honolulu Harbor, state officials said. The Maasdam, with 842 guests and 542 crew members, is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu Friday.

Norwegian Cruise Line said that one of its vessels that had been turned away by Fiji and New Zealand is expected to disembark in Honolulu on Sunday. The Norwegian Jewel, of about 2,000 passengers, refuelled in American Samoa but was not allowed to disembark at the Port of Pago Pago.

New measures to seal off borders to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus have left cruise ships stranded in the Caribbean, South America and Europe, with local governments denying permission to disembark as more cases of infected passengers have come to light.

Two vessels rerouted to Miami after they were turned away from their home port in Puerto Rico even with no reports of infections. Authorities in Argentina, Chile and Brazil placed smaller ships on quarantine after reports of positive coronavirus tests.

The Cruise Lines International Association said that about 40 ships with 90,000 passengers were at sea when President Donald Trump announced a travel ban last week that restricts the arrival of many foreigners in the U.S.

News that the Maasdam was previously planned to arrive in Hilo on Hawaii’s Big Island— after dozens of other ships cancelled port calls for fear of spreading the coronavirus — sparked worry, with many calling for the ship to be redirected or even for civilian vessels to physically block the Maasdam’s entrance to the harbour, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Officials were still working on a plan for the ships’ arrivals, said Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

The department said in a statement officials are working to direct the Maasdam to Honolulu Harbor so that passengers will have various flight options out of Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

“Both ships will have been at sea longer than the 14-day incubation period,” Sakahara said.

Still, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said that starting Friday, disembarking cruise ship passengers will undergo thermal scanning and interviews by physicians.

Ige on Tuesday asked visitors to postpone their island vacations for at least the next 30 days as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Holland America Line’s Westerdam cruise ship arrived Monday in Honolulu with no passengers. The ship departed from the Philippines on March 2 with with 680 crew and 18 contract service staff, who all tested negative for COVID-19 in mid-February, the cruise line said in a statement. The ship sailed for more than a month with no port calls, the statement said.
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