Princess Cruises/YouTube

Passengers enduring coronavirus quarantine on cruise ship share anxiety on social media

People are bored and afraid.

Feb 7, 2020, 1:21 pm*

IRL

Claire Goforth 

Claire Goforth

It’s been described as “a floating prison.” As coronavirus cases skyrocket in China and additional cases are reported worldwide, a cruise ship has become an unlikely focal point of the disease.

All 3,700 passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess have been quarantined off the coast of Japan since Feb. 3 after a man who had been on the ship tested positive for coronavirus. Passengers are confined to their rooms until the quarantine is lifted.

Since then, there have been 61 confirmed cases of the disease on the ship. At least eight Americans have been infected.

The Japanese government plans to continue the quarantine until Feb. 19 “unless there are any other unforeseen developments” according to Princess Cruises, the ship’s owner. The cruise was originally scheduled to end on Feb. 4.

In a video circulating on Twitter that was first posted by Time magazine, American couple Karey and Roger Maniscalco said that things aboard the Diamond Princess have been calm, if anxious. They said they haven’t had any contact with other guests and that staff has been delivering food wearing gloves and masks.

“We’re not so worried about the virus spreading at this point,” Roger said.

Efforts are ongoing to accommodate passengers’ health and nutritional needs, such as by procuring baby formula—there are reportedly five infants on the ship—and prescriptions. To combat boredom, the ship has increased television and video offerings and is passing out crossword puzzles, children’s activity packs, and newspapers. It has also made WiFi and telephone service free to all.

Passengers are sharing their experiences on social media. Videos and photos emerging from the ship show the monotony of being stuck inside a cabin, which is affecting passengers to varying degrees. Passengers in windowless interior rooms seem to be the worst off. The condition of staff who are working through the quarantine is unknown.

Anxious faces, thermometers, and official notifications are interspersed with photos of meals, sunsets, and people trying to make the best of the experience.

People have started pleading with the U.S. government to bring home the Americans aboard the ship to complete their quarantine stateside. Others with loved ones on the Diamond Princess are taking to social media to communicate requests for things like medicine and chairs.

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In a now-deleted tweet, passenger Kim Phillips said a private Facebook group had been set up for passengers and asked those with loved ones aboard to contact her.

There have been no deaths related to the infection reported on the ship.

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*First Published: Feb 7, 2020, 1:19 pm