February 14, 2020
WELCOME TO CAMBODIA! What an eventful day!
But first, anchor in the bay, have immigration and health officials come on board, 20 people swabbed for the virus, visas glued into passports, and we wait. And wait. We are professionals at waiting. Ok, done, now the ship can move to the dock. The Captain makes his announcement, anchor up and away we go! Everyone is outside on the decks watching. Excitement and HOPE is in the air, along with a lot of smoke from nearby burning trash.
The 14 Cambodian dock workers had a very warm greeting from our ship as they began to tie us off. Hundreds of people screaming, waving, and yelling our “Thank Yous”. Nobody even cared if they did not speak English because the message was definitely conveyed.
Cambodian officials come onboard the ship and begin the clearance procedures, which is quite lengthy. We did not get cleared until very late last night, which really messed up the ship’s intention of getting passengers out on late flights. Apparently, they had to fly our 20 health samples to Vietnam to be tested and wait for the result. We are still coronavirus-free.
It is now 8:30am the next morning and we are still waiting to hear if we can have shore-side travel for those of us waiting to receive our flight itineraries home. This will probably happen just before noon.
I stayed up late watching movies, Jojo Rabbit for the third time…Man, I love everything about this story and the cast… remarkable! But I did not anticipate waking up early, so when the Captain came over the loudspeaker before 6:00am I was completely disoriented in the dark and had zero idea what was going on. Jesus, Mary and Joseph…Why is that speaker built into the headboard? A ceiling speaker would have been sufficient.
The PRIME MINISTER OF CAMBODIA is coming to greet the Westerdam and our first passengers off the ship! THIS IS A BIG DEAL, as one can imagine. The Kingdom of Cambodia is the hero in this complicated, frustrating, and disappointing (I’m still a little bent about Guam) world-wide scenario. One dock worker, in very broken English, yelled up to us, “We want you!” Or perhaps he was telling me that my rent was due. I’m not sure, but it was sweet nonetheless.
Last night, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia sent gifts to the ship! Every person on board was given a locally made scarf that we wore or waved to him as he arrived by helicopter. It was actually quite emotional. After being rejected by SO many countries, the kindness of this country is a little overwhelming.
Embassy representatives from the United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Philippines and Canada have been flown into Cambodia and are currently onboard the ship to assist guests with any questions they may have.
Still waiting on flights out of the country. Hopefully, it will happen tomorrow.
More to come…