Diamond Princess passengers mark third anniversary of the Covid-19 outbreak

Feb 07, 2023

On February 3, Japanese passengers sailing aboard the Diamond Princess marked the third-year anniversary of the ship’s arrival at the port of Yokohama and the outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the vessel.

About thirty people attended the day of remembrance for the first time at the wharf of Yokohama Port where the Diamond Princess was anchored. At the site, attendants threw flowers into the sea and quietly put their hands together as a sign of respect for the victims.

Following a 16-day voyage, Diamond Princess arrived at the port of Yokohama on February 3, 2020, one day ahead of it’s schedule, with 10 confirmed Covid cases (9 guests and 1 crew member).

On February 5, the Japanese government set a 14-day quarantine for the 2666 guests, and 1045 crew members aboard the Diamond Princess. 

As COVID-19 emerged as a true global pandemic in 2020, cases of the infection escalated exponentially among the people on board. When the ship’s outbreak was at its worst, it was considered to have the largest number of positive cases outside of mainland China.  According to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 712 passengers and crew aboard were confirmed to be infected, and 13 people lost their lives.

Today we remember some of the events and people who were aboard the Diamond Princess.

Sally and David Abel – Guests aboard the Diamond Princess

Among the quarantined passengers aboard the ship were Sally and David Abel, who posted many videos detailing their experience and what was going on, until they both caught Covid on the Diamond Princess.

Today Sally and David Abel are doing well and they are pretty much active on social media.

“3 years ago today fears started to grow on Diamond Princess. All Excursions were cancelled and all day health screening in Okinawa. A few passengers were confined to their cabins with ‘flu type’ symptoms. We were on the brink of hell breaking out on the ship (Covid).” Said Mr. Abel in a social media post.

Princess Cruises 

During the outbreak, Princess Cruises released many updates about the latest developments aboard the Diamond Princess. The first press release posted by the cruise line was on February 5, confirming the positive cases among 10 people.

“We were notified that amongst the samples that have completed testing,10 people have tested positive for Coronavirus. This includes two Australian guests, three Japanese guests, three guests from Hong Kong, and one guest from the U.S. in addition to one Filipino crewmember.” Princess cruises said back then.

 Diamond Princess Captain Gennaro Arma

Most people did not know much about Captain Gennaro Arma until the raise of the Coronavirus and the fear that took upon the hearts and minds of many as the virus started to spread rapidly, and the world turned towards the Diamond Princess. The attention was placed towards the young Captain who managed to prevent panic breaking lose, maintaining the spirit of the crew and the guest as high as possible under such circumstances, as well as maintaining within the recommendations of the quarantine. At the same time he keep humble thus his name indeed became one worth not only mentioning, but also celebrating. 

“One reason why a panic has not occurred among the passengers is the captain’s leadership” – said one guest.

“I am very proud being one of your gladiators on this unusual crisis that we had been together Captain. Your leadership gave us hope and courage to finish what we have started. Thank You, Captain Arma. I wish you good health. Hope we work and continue our path together on our next Journey. As a gladiator always said AWOO AWOO AWOO,” said a crew member.

After his return to Italy, Captain Gennaro Arma and 15 Italian Officers from the Diamond Princess received a hero's welcome. Among the first to greet them was the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.

Diamond Princess crew

The hard work and dedication of the Diamond Princess crew under extraordinary circumstances were one of the major factors in keeping things together.  It was not easy working in such an environment with the fear of the unknown and limited resources. Yet the crew succeeded to pull things together and managing the crisis in the best possible way. As an appreciation for their work under great stress, Princess Cruises announced that the crew will receive two months of paid time off.

Jan Swartz, Group President of Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia said:

“We have been working to determine how we can best support you once we are past this difficult time. You deserve, and will need, a break. So, we offer you two months of paid time off. This will include your salary and any average gratuities you may normally receive.

We strongly encourage you to use the paid time off for much needed rest. If you decide to leave when the quarantine and later choose to rejoin a ship before the two months pass, you will still receive this extra pay.

Your colleagues across the fleet and all of us ashore send you our ongoing support and thanks.”