Travelers across the globe have always expressed mixed opinions about cruise ships, especially now in the wake of the Diamond Princess epidemic.
While some love the setting of the open sea, cocktail in hand lounging on the pool deck, others have sworn to never cross another gangway again. For passengers aboard the Diamond Princess, their experience has quickly turned into a nightmare.
Update on Diamond Princess Quarantine
Aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, an unprecedented epidemic has broken out. Over 3,600 passengers have been trapped under quarantine since 4 February 2020 with authorities racing to contain the deadly Wuhan coronavirus (CORVID-19) that has now infected 285 passengers.
Unfortunately, the early quarantine efforts on the Wuhan coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess may have helped the virus spread. Tom Inglesby, an infectious-disease expert and director of the John Hopkins Center for Health Security, told TIME magazine that “there is now ample evidence that this [quarantine] is not preventing the spread of cases within the ship.” Guests have been confined to their rooms since 4 February 2020, with meals delivered to their door every day.
Americans Evacuated from Diamond Princess
There are 428 Americans trapped on the cruise ship and at least 24 are infected with the Wuhan coronavirus (CORVID-19). On Saturday, 15 February 2020, the US Embassy in Tokyo emailed US citizens and their immediate family on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship detailing plans for voluntary evacuation that will take place Sunday evening local time.
Those who choose to disembark for the voluntary evacuation will return to the United States on two chartered aircraft and need to complete an additional 14-day quarantine at Travis Air Base near Sacramento, California.
Timeline of Diamond Princess
20 January 2020: The Diamond Princess cruise ship embarked from Yokohama, Japan with 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board for a planned 14-day itinerary.
The guests and crew were oblivious to the fact that a single infected carrier of the Wuhan coronavirus, now named COVID-19 virus, was amongst them and would turn the floating resort into a floating prison.
The infected passenger was an 80-year-old guest, who sailed one segment of the itinerary and disembarked the Diamond Princess in Hong Kong to return home on 25 January. During his five days aboard the ship, the deadly COVID-19 virus had been spreading to fellow passengers without any warning.
1 February 2020: Six days after leaving the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the infected carrier visited a local Hong Kong hospital and tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, it was too late to contain the spread of the virus.
4 February 2020: The Diamond Princess cruise ship was in Japanese waters when 10 passengers were diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. The Japan Ministry of Health quarantined the cruise ship for what was expected to be a 14-day period, off the Port of Yokohama.
8 February 2020: the total number of people with confirmed infections grew to 64 people. At this point, the CORVID-19 virus aboard the Diamond Princess was spreading exponentially quickly.
9 February 2020: 6 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 70 infected.
10 February 2020: 65 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 135 infected.
11 February 2020: 39 more people tested positive for CORVID-19, including a quarantine officer, which brought the total to 174 infected.
13 February 2020: 44 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 218 infected.
15 February 2020: 67 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 285 infected.
Increased Risk on Cruise Ships
On a cruise ship, you live with thousands of people in close quarters, increasing the risk of the spread of any virus. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eight international cruise lines reported outbreaks of norovirus, a contagious stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhea, in 2019.
Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, and Royal Caribbean have all announced measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus on their cruise ships, enacting controls barring guests from ships if they have traveled from or through mainland China in the 14 days prior to the departure date of the cruise.