American quarantined on ‘coronavirus’ cruise tells the world, ‘stay calm’

“I looked both ways to see if anyone would notice, and there are in fact ‘hall monitors’ placed to make sure no one flees,"

Looking down side of ship from the balcony (photo credit: SARAH ARANA)
Looking down side of ship from the balcony
(photo credit: SARAH ARANA)
Sarah Arana, one of the passengers who is quarantined on the cruise ship Princess Diamond, wishes to deliver a message to the world: Stay calm and know that we’re OK.
 “This thing will peak and then subside, much like the ebb and flow of the ocean,” she said.
'I looked both ways to see if anyone was watching.' (credit: Sarah Arana)'I looked both ways to see if anyone was watching.' (credit: Sarah Arana)
Arana, a crisis intervention social worker from Los Angeles, was among the more than 2,500 people who were told they could not disembark from their cruise ship in Japan as planned, when earlier this month a passenger tested positive for coronavirus. Since then, around 130 more passengers have tested positive, 24 of whom are American.
Some 15 Israelis are on board the ship, too.
The decision not to let the passengers disembark came after the Japanese Health Ministry boarded the ship and took their temperatures, Arana told The Jerusalem Post. Anyone with a fever was swabbed, and some 273 tests were sent out and evaluated. After 10 passengers were diagnosed with coronavirus, the ship was placed under quarantine.
Arana explained that the cruise ship company has been trying to keep the virus from spreading among passengers on the ship ever since. Passengers are confined to their rooms and hall monitors are in place to make sure everyone stays put. Often the only other person they see during the course of the day is the person delivering food three times a day to their cabin door. Many of the rooms don’t even have decks, leaving passengers isolated and claustrophobic, she said.
Today's offernings include puzzle pages, origami, paper and this Japanese thermometer (credit: Sarah Arana)Today's offernings include puzzle pages, origami, paper and this Japanese thermometer (credit: Sarah Arana)
“This is my cabin door that I am not supposed to go through,” she said. “I looked both ways to see if anyone would notice, and there are in fact ‘hall monitors’ placed to make sure no one flees,” Arana posted on her Facebook page.
She told the Post that while at first staff was charged with taking the temperatures of everyone on board, shortly thereafter passengers were given their own thermometers and were told to call the front desk if they spiked a fever. If they do, someone is sent to their room to do a swab test.
“Today, I hand-washed my clothes, danced, read, watched a movie, drank a lot of tea and chatted with people online,” she said, noting that along with their daily meals, the cruise ship has been handing out “activities” to keep passengers entertained.
Arana is a part of a Facebook group some of the passengers on the ship opened among themselves in order to stay in touch and offer support. Because of her professional experience, she has been offering phone sessions for anyone who needs extra support.
“Some people are scared, some bored, some angry,” she said, admitting that some of the passengers feel that they’re being put at greater risk by being kept on the ship. They are concerned that the airborne virus could contaminate them.
Night lights on Japanese port ocean (credit: Sarah Arana)Night lights on Japanese port ocean (credit: Sarah Arana)

“I spent some time today in our private group supporting other passengers, a family with a six-year-old in an interior cabin with no fresh air, a wife whose husband was removed – she reports that, on the upside, she gets all of his food now – and several others that I have forged friendships with on this journey,” Arana said. “We are sharing jokes, laughing and making the best of this situation.
“Meanwhile, we are still communicating with several [of the people] who have tested positive in their new quarantine locations. They report that the Japanese are taking this very seriously, they are isolated but well cared for, and they are feeling fine.”
According to Arana, some of the frustration is due to the fact that they’re finding out about occurrences on the ship via the news before they’re being told about it by the captain on the ship.
A press officer from the company that operates the cruise, Princess Cruises, said that the ship is equipped with an air-filtration system “that meets the standards and is comparable to those found in land-based hotels, resorts and casinos.”
She said that Princess has flown teams into Yokohama to assist with meeting passengers’ needs. Tokyo’s Chabad also sent in supplies on Friday for the Jews on board to do kiddush.