While the Diamond Princess cruise ship is quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, due to the presence of Coronavirus on board, one man has decided to pass the time by tweeting food reviews from his cabin.
Matthew Smith, one of the ship’s 428 American passengers, has been tweeting about his life on the Diamond Princess since the ship was quarantined on 4 February when 10 of the ship’s 2,666 passengers were confirmed carriers of the Coronavirus.
“Be careful not to believe everything you read about conditions onboard the #DiamondPrincess,” he wrote. “Some passengers appear to [be] seeking media attention by exaggerations and outright falsehoods.”
Since the ship’s quarantine began, Mr Smith has tweeted photos of the dinners he’s been served – including bowls of macaroni and cheese, rice bowls, desserts and plates full of breakfast foods – and offering his commentary on the incident.
In a Twitter conversation with another quarantined passenger, Mr Smith praised the ship’s crew for their work.
“I am a passenger on the #DiamondPrincess also, and I agree the crew has been doing the best they can with the situation, and I believe the Japanese authorities are just trying to prevent the spread of the virus. Tough situation for everyone involved,” he wrote in response to another passenger who praised the crew.
Mr Smith also shared photos of thermometers that were being given to passengers to help monitor for new cases of the coronavirus. He said passengers were instructed to take their own temperatures several times a day and report them if they’re 37.5 C – 99.5F – or higher.
On Friday, Mr Smith tweeted a photo of a lavish looking spread of meals, including what appeared to be slices of chocolate cake, mashed potatoes, a noodle bowl and salmon over salad.
“Princess stepping up its game with food service on #DiamondPrincess. Don’t believe the honeymooners who would rather be in an American hospital. You might have to drag me off the ship when the quarantine ends,” he wrote.
The “honeymooners” Mr Smith was referring to are Milena Basso and Gaetano Cerullo, another pair of Americans stuck onboard the ship. In an interview with CNN, Ms Basso said she and her husband don’t feel safe aboard and want to be in a medical facility rather than a cruise ship.
“We just don’t feel like we’re safe. We should be quarantined in a sanitary environment that’s safe, not on a cruise ship that’s already infected,” she said. “Donald Trump save us. Get us a government based airplane. Get us off the ship.”
The couple told CNN they’d been saving money for two years to afford the trip. They were not the only ones who disagreed with Mr Smith’s otherwise positive attitude about the situation.
Ashley Rhodes-Courter, a CEO and author whose parents are under quarantine on the ship, chastised Mr Smith Friday for his lack of discernible misery.
“I find your commentary insensitive and misleading. My parents are on the ship and do not share your seemingly charming experience,” she said. “Ample praise to the crew and staff for all they are doing. We’re hopeful for as many survivors as possible. People are suffering on board and ashore.”
While Ms Rhodes-Courter’s admonishment is exceptional – most of Mr Smith’s respondents have been praising his positivity – it is true that the situation is hardly worth celebrating.
As of Thursday, the number of infected has grown to 41 people representing six countries, and the tight quarters of the cruise ship paired with the high average age of the typical cruise ship passengers makes for an ideal breeding ground for a respiratory infection.
Paul Hunter, professor in Medicine at the UK’s University of East Anglia, said in a statement that outbreaks of respiratory transmitted infections happen frequently on cruise ships.
“Cruise passengers are often older than average and spend a lot of time indoors with other people who may have come from all over the world,” Mr Hunter said. “If a passenger has the 2019nCoV [typically called coronavirus] then it is likely to spread more rapidly than on land and, given the relatively high age of many passengers, the probability of more severe disease is high in those affected.”
The virus has already killed 636 people and is present in 25 countries.
The quarantine of the Diamond Princess is scheduled to continue until February 19 as mandated by the Japanese ministry of health.