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Passengers react after they disembark from the MS Westerdam. AP Photo/Heng Sinith

Passengers react after they disembark from the MS Westerdam. AP Photo/Heng Sinith

AP

Passengers react after they disembark from the MS Westerdam. AP Photo/Heng Sinith

After being stranded at sea for two weeks because five ports refused to allow their cruise ship to dock, the passengers of the MS Westerdam were anything but sure their ordeal was finally over.

But the authoritarian leader of Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen, agreed to let the Westerdam dock. Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam had turned the ship way because they feared its passengers and crew could spread the deadly coronavirus virus from China.

The first of hundreds of passengers who disembarked yesterday saw the Cambodian leader arrive by helicopter and personally hand them flowers as they made their way to land.

"Although Cambodia is a poor country, Cambodia has always joined the international community to solve the problems that the world and our region are facing," Mr Hun Sen said.

"How wonderful it is to be here," said Anna Marie Melon, from Queensland, Australia. "Thank you very much to the prime minister. He has a wonderful heart."

"Cambodia alone, even the United States, Guam, did not let us land, but Cambodia did, so that's wonderful. Absolutely wonderful," said Joe Spaziani, from Florida.

Irish Independent