A Princess Cruises ship was met by violent protests Sunday as it arrived at an island in the Indian Ocean due to unsubstantiated concerns about a coronavirus outbreak onboard.
According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Sun Princess had been denied entry into a port in Madagascar earlier in the sailing after health officials said a full 14 days hadn’t passed since the passengers visited Thailand, one of the previous stops on the itinerary.
Despite no reports of coronavirus on the ship, protesters on Reunion island were waiting when the Sun Princess arrived and demanded health checks for passengers before they were permitted to leave the vessel.
Violent protests meet cruise ship full of Australians and New Zealanders at Réunion Island
“Some passengers were very distressed and others absolutely steaming, fuming when they got back,” said Mr Pascoe, who had been waiting for a bus when the violence erupted pic.twitter.com/oRqxvJWU4H
“Of course we are not against the arrival of tourists, they are necessary for the development of our economy,” a protestor identified as Yannis Latchimy told the AFP. “We just want to be sure that there is no risk of the coronavirus propagating.”
Local reports claim protesters threw rocks and other debris at riot police in full protective gear, while fires were lit and property was damaged. Despite the protests, health officials on Reunion island allowed hundreds of passengers to disembark.
The travelers who did explore Reunion reportedly returned to the vessel later in the day due to safety concerns. The Sun Princess, and the estimated 2,000 passengers onboard, departed Reunion a day early on Sunday night but was allegedly denied permission to dock in Mauritius.
TravelPulse reached out to Princess Cruises for a comment but had not received a statement as of publishing. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
The cruise industry has been feeling the impact of the coronavirus, as travel agents and advisors work to ease worries and ships are being turned away at ports around the world due to growing concern.
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