Life Aboard the Stranded Westerdam, part 5

February 13, 2020

Ok, so I did NOT see this next part coming…

Thailand refused us entry into their country after two days of negotiations at the ‘highest levels’ between the Thai government and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands. Ok, now what? Where? Where can we possibly go next? We have already wandered for 3,200+ nautical miles in the South China Sea and a few other little seas. Oh, and the Pacific Ocean. That’s a big one.

Who wants us? CAMBODIA. Cambodia wants us, so suck it Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Guam (technically the United States and I can’t say suck it to home, but I may have thrown the bird in that general direction) and Thailand. Cambodia wants us all you big poopy heads.

Thai naval vessel escorts us toward Bangkok, just before we were officially denied entry into the country

How do we get out of a little Cambodian port named Sihanoukville and back home? With patience. We just moored off the coast of Cambodia and customs officials are now on board to distribute visas for everyone who will be heading home. Our passports were collected again, and now we wait. We are extremely good at that. Professionals, I would say.

Photo by Judy Barr of the ship turning around in the Gulf of Thailand, just after we were denied entry into Bangkok, Thailand. We make a hard U-Turn to head south toward Cambodia, with the Thai navy watching.

Judy Barr, my new Ship BFF, and I were talking about all of the money involved in this. Holland America, I commend you for taking such good care of us, but I’m afraid we may have broken the bank! I talked a little before about all of the fuel, supplies, shore excursions that were cancelled in all of our various ports. Now, Holland America has taken over every aspect of everyone getting home. Here is what we were told…

HAL is paying for our Cambodian visas, the chartered flights to get us from the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, to Phnom Phen, our various and multiple flights home, and reimburse us for any expenses that were lost on previous flights booked personally (upgrades, etc…). It is just easier, at this point, to have HAL handle everything, so no more change-fees and hassles occur.

Our last sunset on the ship, or so we thought…

I have already stated that everyone on board is getting a 100% refund for this cruise. In addition, HAL is giving us another cruise, of same value, FREE. Just book it within one year, and enjoy a new vacation, on them. SO GENEROUS! I would travel with Holland America any day! An “A+” isn’t even close to how wonderful they have been to us.

Think about all of the fees that we, as passengers, do not know about: The cancellation fees for the docks not entered, did the Thai government charge them for the naval escort yesterday? Will the Cambodian government make them pay for the agents currently on board, while we are moored off the coast, to come onboard and process our visas? All the flights out of Asia at the end of the cruise, originally changed from Shanghai, then Tokyo, that need to reimbursed for over 1,000 people! I can not even imagine.

Here is the other thing that KILLS me… Holland America is owned by Carnival. The massive cruise ship that is currently still in quarantine off the coast of Tokyo, with over 3,000 people onboard, nearly 130 people infected with the coronavirus, is theirs! The Carnival Princess! So, not only has Carnival had to deal with us, Holland America, but have also been managing the Princess coronavirus headache as well. UNBELIEVABLE! It makes me want to give every single person in those offices a huge hug, but they would reject me for fear of giving them the coronavirus. Kidding, of course. But, not really.

Guest Services on the Westerdam’s Deck 1 just moments after the announcement was made that Holland America was going to be responsible for booking all flights, regardless of who you were, out of Cambodia.

Then there is all of this negative press about Holland America, even from passengers onboard this ship (SHAME ON YOU, JERKS!) that will absolutely hurt their reputation and cost them money in the long run. Not to mention, the travel industry in general, when it comes to cruising in the future, and cruising to any port in Eastern Asia.

Let’s talk for a second about jerks. As a Tour Director, or Cruise Host, or an employee anywhere in general, you can’t act like a jerk while on duty. You shouldn’t act like a jerk off duty for that matter, but…It has been SO difficult listening to people grump and complain about such trivial issues while I am sitting on this ship wearing my company uniform. Can’t do it. Shut your mouth, Liz. You can’t argue with stupid. They don’t know they are being ridiculous, so just “let it go!”

Sadly, this is the last Etch-A-Sketch Holland America Westerdam map we will see on this voyage. No more changes. Cambodia won the prize!

To set the tone: I’m at my office space on Deck 3, drinking my iced tea, minding my own business, listening to the ship’s musical director play the piano in the room behind me, when this random and unfamiliar guy and his wife stopped at the ship’s map. Since I was one of the few people sitting nearby, he chose to mouth off to me about how he bet they were never going to get home any time soon, and how Holland America was ‘greedy’ and only wanted money so that is why they stopped in Hong Kong. Greed. (Insert a photo of Liz turning red with a slow boil) “…they are going to have SO many civil lawsuits against them! They won’t know what to do!” says the pissy little man, with his crunch-faced wife behind him, to me from across the room. And, this is where Liz looses her shit…. “Are you saying that YOU are the one planning to file a civil suit? Why? Because you didn’t get to see a temple in Naha, Japan? And you got another free cruise out of it?” There were a few other choice words spoken between us, his wife started wagging her finger at me, which, for those of you who know me, never ends well for the wagger, but they were relentless. He just kept repeating the word ‘greedy’. Luckily, Judy, showed up toward the end of it, she literally walked right into it, and they started to calm down. Funny, how they blamed Holland America for being so ‘greedy’ and then argued with me about how they were going to F-ING SUE! What are you going to get out of the lawsuit, huh? Your entire cruise refunded? Already done, asshat!

More to come…

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