Cruise ship forced away from Thai port following public outcry

Tracking data shows the MS Amsterdam reversing course early Wednesday evening. Image: Vesselfinder.com
Tracking data shows the MS Amsterdam reversing course early Wednesday evening. Image: Vesselfinder.com

A cruise ship with no known coronavirus infections under Thai naval escort to port reversed course and headed back out to the gulf Wednesday night after a public outcry.

The saga of the MS Amsterdam, which has more than 2,000 passengers aboard, took another twist – or hard turn to starboard – Wednesday night after an outpouring of public opposition to it making port in the kingdom.

The director of the Laem Chabang deep water port said in a Wednesday night statement just before 6pm that the boat would not be allowed to dock. Earlier in the late afternoon, observers had noted the ship was being escorted by a Royal Thai Navy frigate toward the coast.

The ship, which set sail from Hong Kong and was on its way to Japan, was previously refused by Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and the U.S. territory of Guam. As of 9pm, the cruise ship was still being escorted by the HTMS Bhumibol Adjulyadej.

Thai navy escorting stranded cruise ship to port

On Twitter, many echoed the sentiments of the prime minister that the ship had somehow intruded without permission into Thai territorial waters.

“Excuse me sir. You are not ‘escorted’ by the Thai navy, you are guarded because the ship trespassed our sea territory without notifying the authority first,” @Mandyxxfr tweeted in one of many similar messages.

“If your cruise ship without virus why you not back to HK or USA or England?” tweeted @Thi41. “[T]hem is owner I and Thai people don’t want you used our port. No one can tell 100% them not contact virus.”

Cruise operator Holland America Line said in a 6:41pm tweet that the ship was now headed to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where it would arrive at 7am on Thursday.

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