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What It's Like To Be Quarantined On A Cruise Ship For Coronavirus


The largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside of China is on a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan. Sixty-one passengers have tested positive for the virus and been transferred to Japanese hospitals. More than 3,000 people are still onboard. And as NPR's Rebecca Davis reports, they're getting anxious.

REBECCA DAVIS, BYLINE: Karey Maniscalco and her husband really enjoyed their two-week cruise on the Diamond Princess.

KAREY MANISCALCO: It had been a good trip, but we were tired, and we were ready to go home.

DAVIS: The ship pulled into port earlier than expected, and they felt confident they would make their flight home the next day. But then at dinner, the captain announced a passenger had the coronavirus.

MANISCALCO: The whole room became silent - the whole dining room - because everybody was kind of shocked at the news.

DAVIS: The next morning, another announcement - more passengers had tested positive. The Diamond Princess would be quarantined for 14 days.

MANISCALCO: We were in shock. I started crying.

DAVIS: Karey and other passengers were told that they would have to stay in their cabins. They can't leave. Karey says the silence is eerie.

MANISCALCO: It's quiet. You know, usually when you're on a cruise ship, people are walking down the halls, and you hear them talking and laughing or doors opening and closing. It's very quiet.

DAVIS: And in that quiet, it quickly dawned on many that they were going to run out of their prescription drugs. Katherine Codekas is a lawyer from Sacramento.

KATHERINE CODEKAS: That was a freakout for me was I didn't bring enough of my high-blood-pressure medicine. I only brought one extra week.

DAVIS: But Codekas says the ship has acted quickly making sure that everybody gets their medications. As for food, meals are delivered three times a day by crew wearing masks and gloves. They slip the trays through the cracks in the door. And with the news that more passengers have been infected, the anxiety level is going up.

GAY COURTER: This is Gay Courter on board the Diamond Princess in Yokohama harbor.

DAVIS: Gay is on the ship with her husband Philip.

PHILIP COURTER: I've been very relaxed. But now I'm beginning to realize that if more and more and more people are getting sick on this ship, what are we doing here? This is crazy. You know, I'm frankly now starting to get nervous.

DAVIS: As we're talking, the ship's captain makes an announcement over speakers in the cabin.

UNIDENTIFIED SHIP CAPTAIN: As requested by the Japanese Ministry of Defense...

DAVIS: The captain tells the passengers to take their temperatures with thermometers the ship provided.

UNIDENTIFIED SHIP CAPTAIN: If you discover that your temperature is 37.5 degrees Celsius or above, you must immediately dial one of the following numbers.

DAVIS: The World Health Organization says every time there's a new case on the ship, the quarantine extends 14 more days. Passenger Philip Courter says he and his wife understand they need to be quarantined. They just want it to be somewhere else.

P COURTER: You know, this is (laughter) really kind of a doomed ship here (laughter), you know? I mean, how else do you look at it?

DAVIS: Courter says he and his wife would prefer to be quarantined back home in Florida.

Rebecca Davis, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.