Major cruise lines might have suspended operations and canceled cruises in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still several boats on the water until that edict goes into place.
And at least two of them are having trouble finding a place to disembark.
Honolulu became the latest port to turn away the Holland America Maasdam and the Norwegian Jewel, officials said Wednesday.
ABC News reported that despite previous commitments that the ships would be allowed to dock in Honolulu, that changed. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who was running for president, said during a telephone town hall Wednesday that the state Department of Transportation "made the difficult, but correct, decision to only allow the Maasdam and Norwegian Jewel cruise vessels ... to come into port solely to take on fuel and resupply, in Honolulu Harbor."
The two ships have already been turned away by four different ports. The Maasdam, with almost 1,400 passengers and guests, had its port call canceled in Hilo and is set to arrive Friday to Honolulu Harbor. The Jewel, with 1,700 passengers on board, was turned away by Fiji, New Zealand and American Samoa, although it was allowed to refuel in American Samoa.
Part of the issue is numerous countries across the globe are closing their borders due to the rapid spread of the virus. ABC noted that two ships were 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 ships on quarantine after reports of positive coronavirus tests.
The Cruise Lines International Association said that when President Trump enacted his travel ban restricting visitors from Europe to the U.S. last week, and after he and the major cruise lines agreed to a deal for a 30-day suspension of cruises, there were still about 40 ships with 90,000 passengers at sea.
The transportation department said previously officials were working to direct the Maasdam to Honolulu Harbor so passengers will have flight options out of Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. But Gabbard said that plan is off.
"It has been confirmed that there will be no disembarking of passengers, not even to go straight from the port directly to Honolulu airport to catch their flight home," she said. "After they are refueled and resupplied the ships will be sent off to another destination that is not Hawaii that will allow them to discharge their passengers."
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