THE Diamond Princess Cruise Ship is in quarantine in Yokohama, Japan due to the novel coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China and is making international headlines.
The ship carried 3700 passengers and crew. Kate Bedding and Greg and Rose Yerex, Port Dover residents, are on board the ship.
As of Monday, 135 passengers have been taken from the boat to hospital in Japan with signs of the virus.
The rest of the passengers are quarantined in their cabins aboard the ship for two weeks.
The Port Dover residents in the 14-day quarantine originally planned to fly home February 5. Now, they are hoping to be released from the ship on February 19.
Kate Bedding, with help from Greg and Rose Yerex, wrote the following article for the Maple Leaf from their experience on board the ship.
By Kate Bedding
On board the Diamond Princess
cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan
THREE residents of Port Dover set out on a 29 day cruise of South East Asia – a trip of a lifetime – to see places like Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, places we had read about and wanted to explore. We even watched the Ken Burn’s documentary on the Vietnam War so we would be better informed about that country.
We ended up quarantined in Yokohama Harbour, Japan for 14 days on the Diamond Princess ship, restricted to our rooms.
The change from luxury holiday to “imprisonment” occurred at the end of the cruise when we were advised by the Captain that a passenger had been on the boat for five days and got off in Hong Kong and, feeling ill, went to the hospital and was diagnosed with coronavirus.
Prior to telling us this, we had had a disappointing stop in Okinawa where all excursions had been cancelled and every person on board the boat was required to go through customs, immigration and a health check. By then we were all hearing about the virus on the news so just assumed the Japanese were being cautious.
At left: Kate Bedding of Port Dover, wearing a mask and keeping the required separation from other passengers while being permitted a deck walk.
Then we did two days at sea on our way to our final stop. But on the second day, the Captain announced that he was picking up speed and we would arrive 12 hours early. For our inconvenience in Okinawa, we were all given free internet.
As we sat on the ship enjoying some jazz piano music, Rose had her phone on and got a message from a friend in Port Dover that our boat was in quarantine.
It was later that the Captain announced that we were all to return to our cabins and that Japanese authorities would be boarding the boat and doing a health test on everyone throughout the night.
My test, a simple temperature check in the ear, was done at 1:30 a.m. but when I phoned Greg and Rose in the morning, no one had come to their room – our first big awareness that we were not getting off the boat that morning as planned.
The tests continued all day and when complete we were told that it would be at least five hours before the results were known – so clearly some people had had more than temperatures taken.
We cancelled our Tokyo hotel.
It was at 6:30 the next morning, boat still at anchor, that the Captain announced that everyone was to remain in their cabins while 10 people were taken to shore and to hospital and we are now in 14 days quarantine.
We sent messages to our travel agent and airline that we wouldn’t make our flight home.
The following morning, the boat came alongside the pier and we saw media and ambulances; 10 more people were taken off the boat to hospital.
Then on Friday (Feb. 7), 41 more passengers are taken off and the rest of us remaining are given masks, gloves and thermometres to take our own temperatures regularly.
So what is life aboard a quarantined ship like?
Those of us fortunate to have balconies can step outside for sun and fresh air while people with inside cabins have just started being allowed out on deck in small monitored numbers wearing their masks and gloves and staying one metre apart.
At left: Rose and Greg Yerex of Port Dover on their first supervised one hour walk on deck during the 14 day quarantine aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess. Their days are spent quarantined inside their cabin.
Three meals arrive at the door daily and the crew must pass them to you – they are not allowed in your room. Passengers are now responsible for maintaining their rooms but can ask for fresh linens.
Princess wisely gave everyone free internet to connect with family and jobs and cancelling travel plans and have increased the bandwidth to improve the speed. This was so important as we realized we had to do things like Rose cancelling courses and I made sure my dogs could stay at the kennel longer.
The cruise ship also added TV and movie options and crew members bring puzzles to us daily. And for anyone running short of their medications, they ordered additional drugs for the 14 day period.
So, it’s inconvenient for sure, but we are safe and comfortable and understand that this is necessary to bring this virus under control.
The crew has been amazing throughout and for those who wonder if we would ever cruise again, the answer is yes.