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Cruise Ship Returns to Cambodian Port that Welcomed It During Covid Uncertainty

SIHANOUKVILLE: The Westerdam cruise ship has returned to Cambodia nearly four years after it was granted a safe haven in the Kingdom during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic. With more than 2,000 aboard, the ship docked at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on December 28 where guests were greeted by Minister of Tourism Sok Soken.

Prime Minister Hun Manet extended a warm welcome to the international guests via social media and expressed hope that their visit would bring more attention to the tourism potential of Cambodia.

On February 13, 2020, the Westerdam was granted entry to Cambodia after five nations denied the ship entry, including Japan, its original destination. The ship spent days in limbo before former Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to welcome the guests, later saying, "Humanitarian work has no borders." Passengers and crew, including 1,455 multinational passengers and 802 crew members, began disembarking on Valentine’s Day and were able to return to their home countries. No one on board was confirmed to have contracted Covid on the ship and at the time, there were only 45,000 cases documented worldwide.

The World Health Organization later dubbed Cambodia “a small country with a big heart” and applauded the efforts of the Cambodian authorities to secure the safe return of the cruise passengers and crew.

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