By Jennifer Mayerle


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota couple is stuck with a roughly 3,000 quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan. It was locked down after one passenger became sick with the Coronavirus. That number has grown to 218 cases as the ship is docked at Yokohama, Japan in Tokyo Bay.

Amy Ellefson and husband Ron Hildeen’s cruise vacation came to a halt on the last day when health officials quarantined everyone on board the Diamond Princess out of concern the Coronavirus could spread.

“We have not been tested yet. We just monitor our temperature but they’re starting to test more people now,” Ellefson said.

Passengers are confined to their rooms for most of the day. Groups are only allowed to walk the ship for an hour, wearing masks.

“We’re supposed to keep a yard away from each other and you’re supposed to not touch anybody else or get too close,” Ellefson said.

They are required to wear masks when their three daily meals arrive. Otherwise, they pass the time playing scrabble and cards.

“I had one day where I was feeling pretty cooped up but I feel pretty good now. We talk to each other actually,” Ellefson said.

They’re trying to keep a sense of humor, keeping track of days served. It’s day 9 of 14.

“Have to make the best of it because we have no control, so it’s OK,” Ellefson said.

“If you don’t roll with the punches, the punches will get you,” Hildeen said.

The crew delivered roses, chocolate and coffee for Valentine’s Day.

It’s another day of waiting, while the Eden Prairie couple gazes out the window at the ambulances lined up, ready to transport passengers who become sick.

“I think the most angst that I have with this is after, on Feb. 19, are they really going to let us out? And what’s going to happen then,” Ellefson said.

Princess Cruises gave all passengers a full refund and credit for another cruise. Health officials are working on a voluntary disembarkment plan over the next few days where some passengers can complete the quarantine at a facility on land.

Jennifer Mayerle

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