Two Red Deer area residents are among the 251 Canadians stranded aboard a virus-infected cruise ship near Tokyo.
Lolita and Hans Wiesner, who have been on cruise ships before, are on a Diamond Princess vessel quarantined near Yokohama, Japan.
The cruise was scheduled to arrive in Yokohama on Tuesday at 6 a.m., Lolita told the Advocate on Thursday.
The couple learned on Sunday that a passenger who left the ship Jan. 25 had been diagnosed with coronavirus. The captain announced he was speeding up and the cruise would arrive in Yokohama by Monday instead.
“We were not permitted to dock in Yokohama on Monday.
Instead, health officials came aboard, where we were at anchor, a little bit out to sea from the dock.
“That’s when the face-to-face temperature checks began.”
Although inconvenienced, the couple is making the best of the situation.
When the two learned they were being quarantined for 14 days on Wednesday, the couple “burst into laughter,” Lolita said, adding they have no complaints.
“Honestly, we’re not feeling scared at all. I’m not worried about getting sick. Worrying about something that may not happen just sucks all the joy out of your day,” the 69-year-old said.
The couple is room-bound and doesn’t have windows or balconies. So the couple was happy when the announcement came Thursday that passengers will be able to go out on the deck for a little while in small groups for fresh air.
The partial freedom from the cabin comes with rules: wear masks, keep one-metre distance between yourself and anyone you are talking to, and wash your hands with soap and water when you’re back in the room.
Lolita said one inconvenience is the next part of their itinerary. The couple is supposed to fly to Lisbon for 30 days, but hasn’t been able to their cancel flights. That’s about $1,500.
“I think we may get some compensation from Princess, as that was alluded to by the captain in an early announcement, but no further details have been forthcoming,” she said.
The couple may also lose some money in hotel bookings, which they haven’t been able to cancel so far.
From Lolita’s understanding, the Japanese Ministry of Health is “calling the shots.”
“Captain said the minister is not very forthcoming with news and information, especially since much of that info is sensitive, so there isn’t much the captain can share with us,” the Joffre-area resident said.
In their room, the duo is keeping busy with movies, puzzles, news channels, crosswords and good food.
“We are both fine, and not sick, and reasonably content despite close quarters. One of my friends from Red Deer said, ‘You’re with your husband? In a small room for 14 days? Do you have a counsellor on speed dial?’
“Loved that! I think after 47 years, we know each other well enough to get along in close quarters,” she said.
Since the 10 additional people became sick, Lolita said the 14-day quarantine might run an extra day or two.