The luxury days ‘are gone’ — Guest describes life inside quarantined cruise ship off Japan

Health, Fitness & Food

One of the quarantined passengers aboard a Princess Cruises ship told CNBC on Thursday that the vessel is moored, but guests are not allowed to leave.

“The cruise has ended and we are in a quarantine situation,” said 74-year-old David Abel, who’s being held on the Diamond Princess with his wife, Sally, in Japan as the cruise line plays a role in stopping the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

He spoke to CNBC through a Skype call that aired on the network’s special “Outbreak” report.

“All of the luxury of having someone — a steward coming to the cabin, make the bed, put chocolate on the pillow, change the towels, face cloths, clean the bathroom — those days are gone,” Abel said explaining the environment. “It just ain’t happening.”

The Carnival-owned company on Tuesday placed 3,700 passengers and crew under a two-week mandatory quarantine after 10 passengers tested positive for the fast-spreading virus. It’s a move required by the Japanese Ministry of Health. Since then, 10 additional passengers have tested positive, bringing the total to 20.

Abel’s been leading a private Facebook group for his fellow passengers in an effort to “let off steam” and cheer each other up. He’s also been posting daily Facebook Live videos, while the ship provides guests with complimentary internet and phone service.

“Those passengers who are on the inside cabins: they’ve got no windows to look out of, there’s no daylight, natural light and they can’t take a walk down a corridor. It’s strict confinement to cabins for all passengers,” Abel said in describing the scene from inside. “But the captain has announced that people on the inside cabins are going to be allowed access onto the open deck for exercise and fresh air.”

Before the quarantine took effect, a previous guest who did not have any symptoms while on-board had tested positive for the virus on Saturday, six days after leaving the cruise ship.

Health officials around the world are scrambling to stop the spread of the new virus, which was first discovered Dec. 31 in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province.

China said there was an additional 73 deaths and 3,143 new cases of the coronavirus in China as of the end of Feb. 6, bringing the total number of deaths in China to 636 and the cumulative number of confirmed cases to 31,161.

The World Health Organization said there’s been more than 150 coronavirus cases in about two dozen countries outside of China and declared the virus a global health emergency. Eleven of those cases are in the United States.

The U.S., for its part, instituted on Sunday a mandatory 14-day quarantine of Americans who in the last two weeks have visited Hubei province. The Trump administration is also instructing Americans returning to the U.S. to undergo a two-week self quarantine if they have been in other parts of mainland China in the past two weeks.

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