Cruise ship leaves port early due to coronavirus fear

World Dream cruise ship. Credit: Arno Redenius

Taiwanese authorities asked one of Genting Cruises’ ships to leave Kaohsiung port ahead of schedule after it transpired that the vessel had previously carried three persons who became infected with the novel coronavirus.

Genting Cruises’ World Dream, carrying more than 3,000 passengers and crew members, had arrived in Kaohsiung at 1 pm local time on 4 February 2020 and was scheduled to depart for Hong Kong at 9 pm the same day. However, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control requested the ship depart by 3:30 pm, more than five hours ahead of schedule.

None of the passengers and crew were allowed to disembark.

In January, World Dream had carried three passengers on a cruise from China to Vietnam and after returning to China, the trio were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

Another two passengers from the ship are suspected of being infected and are being treated in a hospital in Guangzhou, China.

The virus surfaced in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, in December 2019, and has nearly spread worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the situation a global health emergency.

World Dream was docked at wharves 8 and 9 in Kaohsiung. Taiwan International Ports Corporation had permitted the ship to call as its current batch of passengers is different from the one which had the infected persons.

World Dream departed Hong Kong on 2 February and had stopped at Keelung on 3 February.

Like many major cruise operators, Genting Cruises has cancelled all sailings from China, restricted access to passengers from China, and avoided deploying crew members from China.

Nonetheless, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control decided to be extra cautious as the current set of crew on World Dream had served the previous batch of passengers.

Members of the Cruise Lines International Association have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to anyone who has travelled from or through China within the previous 14 days.

The association’s members include MSC Cruises and Carnival Corporation and have a combined market share of 85% in the cruise sector.