"A floating prison": What life is like for the thousands trapped on the 'coronavirus cruise'.


Diamond Princess, the cruise ship currently in mandatory quarantine and docked at Yokohama in Japan, has a total of 61 passengers infected with Novel coronavirus.

Seven of those passengers are Australian. Those who are not infected remain in a two-week quarantine, as they wait to see if symptoms develop.

Here is everything we know about Diamond Princess, and what life is like for those held inside.

Inside the Diamond Princess.

The cruise ship has a total of 3711 people on board, including 223 Australians.

All passengers have been forced to remain in their rooms, in an effort to contain the outbreak.


diamond princess cruise ship
Passengers look out from balconies on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Image: Getty.

British man David Abel has been documenting his experiences on Facebook, and on Thursday evening, Australian time, said passengers with inside cabins were being allowed to walk on the deck for 1.5 hours under the supervision of Quarantine officers.

"They must stay one metre apart from one another and not make contact or congregate in groups," he wrote.

"It's not going to be a luxury cruise; it's going to be like a floating prison," he said in a video posted to his Facebook.

David Abel further explained the laundry situation, saying: "The Japan authorities will not allow the cruise line to do any laundry. So it's not the ship saying 'we won't do it' - they have been denied that facility through the Japanese health authorities."

The passenger has also shared a number of photos from inside the Diamond Princess.

The rise in the number of infections has worsened the mood for thousands of passengers stuck on the cruise, who are only allowed out for brief periods to breathe fresh air on open decks.

Several had previously said they were longing to get out and see the sky.


Queenslanders Coralie and Paul Williamson are two of thousands currently in mandatory quarantine.

Speaking to the ABC, the couple described what it was like onboard. They said they were lucky to have a room with a balcony and fresh air, while others were stuck in rooms with no windows.

Broadcasts are made every few hours, but only in English and Japanese, so passengers who don’t speak either language have been left in the dark about what is happening.

They are unable to interact with other passengers, meaning their only human contact is with each other and the staff members who delivered food to their rooms.

Food delivery is irregular, though, with breakfast arriving at about 10 a.m. and dinner after 9 p.m.

“You can sometimes hear when food is getting delivered that people are getting upset about not having medication and about not getting information,” Coralie said.

They had not had fresh food since January 20.

Keeping themselves occupied is taking a bit of creativity, they explained.

“We’ve both got Fitbits so we’re trying to get our steps going and doing some stretches and those sorts of physical things, as well as trying to come up with a bit of a routine [for] our entertainment,” Paul said.

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Images: Facebook/Coralie Williamson and David Abel.

Another couple from Queensland, Paul and Jacqui Fidrmuc, also on the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship, say they are frightened.

They told AAP they were learning more about the situation from the media than they were from the cruise company.

They said their medical testing – which they passed – took only one minute and now it’s just a matter of waiting for the quarantine period to pass.

"The concern we have is we might have the virus and we don't have the symptoms," Fidrmuc said on Thursday.


"It's a frightening situation but it is not a disease where if you get it, it's certain death. You just have to be lighthearted about the whole situation."


How did the infections start on Diamond Princess?

Authorities say the Diamond Princess outbreak can be traced to an 80-year-old Hong Kong man who disembarked the ship last month.


According to the statement by Diamond Princess, the man did not visit the ship's medical centre to report any symptoms or illness. He went to a local hospital six days after exiting the ship, before being diagnosed with Novel coronavirus on February 1.

It's understood he is in a stable condition.

The virus can be transmitted via droplets from an infected person exhaling, coughing or sneezing, and can also spread via contaminated surfaces such as door handles. Experts have said it is more easily transmitted than the SARS virus.

The first case of novel coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019, with a large seafood market in a central residential district believed to be the primary source.

When will the passengers be able to leave?

The quarantine end date will be February 19, the Diamond Princess has said, "unless there are any other unforeseen developments".

A statement by Princes cruises continues: "During the remainder of the time on board, guests will continue to be provided complimentary internet and telephone service to stay in contact with their family and loved ones...

"The cruise activities staff is packaging games, puzzles and trivia and delivering them to guest staterooms."

Update on the Novel coronavirus death toll

  • At least 722 people have died from the coronavirus epidemic.
  • There are over 34,000 infections worldwide.
  • The virus is now present in China and 27 other countries.
  • Cases are increasing at a rate of 15 to 20 per cent daily.
  • There are 14 cases in Australia, 13 of whom were in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. The other Australian infected had contact with a person from Wuhan.

Feature Image: Twitter/@daxa_tw.

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