New Delhi: When luxury cruise liner 'M S Westerdam' that had been refused permission to dock at several ports for two weeks over coronavirus fears dropped anchor off Cambodia, there was a sigh of relief in Kerala too. The reason: Westerdam’s executive chef Bitta Kuruvilla belongs to the state.
Speaking to Manorama News, Bitta said that the luxury ship had wandered in the seas desperately for a port to dock with around 1,400 passengers and a crew of 802. Westerdam was heading to Yokohama in Japan when several passengers on board 'Diamond Princess', a luxury ship belonging to Carnival Group which also owns Westerdam, tested positive for coronavirus.
As a result, Westerdam too was refused entry by several countries, including Japan, forcing the ship to sail for two weeks seeking a country which would offer it refuge. Finally, Cambodia allowed the ship to lay anchor off its coast and the passengers and crew were tested for the virus. After all the tests reported negative, the ship docked in Cambodia and the prime minister of the country personally arrived at the port to give the tourists in the ship a warm welcome.
On social media, many of them expressed their gratitude to Bitta for the care he provided during the difficult days. One passenger said Bitta was the most popular person on the ship.
Hailing from Puthupally in Kottayam district, Bitta has been employed with Carnival Group for the last 13 years. He lives at Thaikoodam in Kochi.
The ship will now sail to Yokohama with the crew.