Look, at this point, voluntarily boarding a cruise ship for any reason other than the Golden Girls is simply not worth the risk. Because even when they’re not getting stranded at sea, cruise ships just generally seem to be floating Petri dishes housing buffet tables overflowing with roving microscopic pirates just looking to commandeer and pillage passengers’ bodies.
And in the age of coronavirus, cruise ships seem even more potentially terrible than ever before, something that over a thousand passengers and crew trapped in their cabins aboard a luxury cruise ship off the coast of Japan have unfortunately learned too late. The Diamond Princess cruise ship, meant to take 2,666 people on a tour of East Asia, is now just sitting off the coast of Yokohama, Japan while 1,045 people can’t leave their rooms until they get their test results after an 80-year-old passenger who recently disembarked the ship tested positive for the virus:
“Two days [after the man disembarked] 20 people among 102 whose results had been confirmed were found to be infected, with 171 others nervously awaiting their results.
The thousands who were never tested, or tested negative, now face at least 12 more days confined to their cabins, unable to directly communicate with each other, their meals brought to them by staff in masks and protective clothing.”
Now the regularly scheduled cruise ship activities of eating a lot and getting absolutely wasted are canceled, with passengers limited to one hot drink and three unfussy meals a day. But some of the quarantined are making use of their time by cultivating modest followings on social media, like the passenger who celebrated his ninth wedding anniversary trapped in his cabin, where he tweets pictures of each meal, sounding cheery enough, given the circumstances:
Another passenger’s account is a bit more ominous. One message from a Twitter account called On Board the Diamond Princess is reminiscent in style of a 17th-century travelogue I once read in a graduate seminar about a ship that got lost at sea, forcing sailors to eat nothing but rotting penguin meat for weeks while contemplating the ocean as an unfeeling void. “I keep hearing painful coughs from a foreigner in a nearby room,” the passenger writes. “I might get infected today or tomorrow.”
On the tiniest sliver of bright sides, passengers have been told they will be able to go on deck in small groups, wearing face masks, for 90 minutes at a time as long as they stand one meter apart from one another. They are also provided with a daily sudoku and Coke Zero.