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Ship docks after coronavirus scare

  • Anthem of the Seas

A cruise ship rerouted to Bermuda after a scare over a deadly coronavirus strain delayed its scheduled trip to the Bahamas tied up in Dockyard yesterday.

Minibus operators waiting for the Anthem of the Seas said taxi numbers in Dockyard were down despite reassurances the virus, which had claimed more than 1,100 lives, was not on board.

One driver said “a lot of people were scared” earlier this week.

But he added: “They’re not going to send a boat to Bermuda with sick people.”

Passengers coming ashore at Heritage Wharf from the Royal Caribbean liner included Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, who boarded the ship at 4.30am from a pilot boat as the vessel neared the island.

Mr DeSilva said the mood on the ship was “fantastic”.

He added: “People are glad to be here. No one had any concerns.

“Our concern is for our people, and I am confident the US health officials have done their job.”

Mr DeSilva added: “I am disappointed with a lot of the social-media posts about this ship that were based on misinformation.”

He said he “did not think” the Covid-19 outbreak, which has hit several cruise ships worldwide, would hurt cruise business to Bermuda.

Mr DeSilva added: “Most people will cruise like these folks have done. Health officials have done what they have to do.”

In a statement, Mr DeSilva said “all fears have been put to rest” and said staff on the ship had “gone above and beyond the norm”.

Carnival Cruise Lines announced yesterday that travel bans on ports in China, where the outbreak originated in Wuhan province, would affect cruises elsewhere in Asia and hit its financial performance.

The MS Westerdam, a Holland America Line ship, was given permission to dock by Cambodia yesterday after five other countries turned it away over fears one of its passengers might have the illness. Boeing also warned that the drop in air traffic to Asia would have an impact on deliveries of new aircraft in the first quarter of this year.

The Anthem of the Seas, with a capacity of 4,825 passengers and crew, was scheduled to cruise from New Jersey to Florida and the Bahamas.

A couple from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania said “a lot of people bailed” after the cruise shortened and switched to Bermuda.

The man said: “We weren’t expecting to be here, but we’re just glad to be somewhere.”

His wife added: “It’s probably better than most cruises we’ve been on — they treated us great.”

The ship was held up last week in its home port of Bayonne, New Jersey, as four passengers on board an earlier cruise were tested and later cleared of infection with the new coronavirus strain.

Passengers for the trip to Bermuda were allowed on board on Sunday.

The ship is scheduled to leave Bermuda for New Jersey at 3.30pm today.