Passengers of the MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, disembark from the MS Westerdam, at the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, last month. The ship was expected to come to Juneau, but instead it is heading to Mexico. (AP Photo | Heng Sinith)

Passengers of the MS Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, disembark from the MS Westerdam, at the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, last month. The ship was expected to come to Juneau, but instead it is heading to Mexico. (AP Photo | Heng Sinith)

Westerdam is no longer coming to Juneau

Juneau Assembly also declares local emergency

A COVID-19-linked cruise ship is no longer coming to Juneau.

The MS Westerdam, which was expected to spend two or three weeks at a private dock, will not be spending time in the capital city, City Manager Rorie Watt said during a Monday night Assembly meeting. Previously, the ship was expected sometime within the next week.

The Westerdam will instead travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, instead of Juneau, according to a statement from Holland America Line, which owns the ship.

“Aboard ship are 680 crew and 18 contract service staff, all of which tested negative for COVID-19 in mid-February,” Holland America Line said in a release. “Upon arrival to Puerto Vallarta, the ship will have sailed for more than a month with no port calls.”

Holland America Line recently announced that like Viking Cruises and Princess Cruises it will be suspending operations. The decision for the ship to dock elsewhere was reached during a broad review of ship deployment after that decision, according to Holland America Line.

“Cruise ships are not coming any time soon,” Watt said.

He said in light of that, cruise ships are not a primary concern for city officials at the moment. Watt said what they are mainly concerned with is preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the economic impact of shutdowns amid the pandemic.

[Alaska has 2 new COVID-19 cases]

“We’re trying to push the public health message constantly,” Watt said.

To that end, CBJ Assembly declared a local emergency in response to COVID-19 during its meeting.

Watt said the declaration is not the reason why the Westerdam will not be coming to Juneau. Instead, it’s to allow CBJ to be eligible for federal and state aid.

“It’s related to disaster funding from the feds and the state,” Watt said.

He said he was not sure how much funding Juneau may receive.

“There have been no communications,” Watt said.

Road work ahead

The Assembly Monday OK’d multiple conveyances of city property along Mendenhall Looop Road to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to create new roundabouts.

The new roundabouts would be located at the the road’s intersections with Stephen Richards Memorial Drive, Floyd Dryden Middle School’s access road and Mendenhall Boulevard, according to DOT.

Watt said he was unsure when the projects would start, but he knows DOT is continuing progress on other projects, including work on Egan Drive between the Douglas Bridge and and Main Street.

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