“It was scary because I kept thinking, what if I get the virus and be put in a Japanese hospital,” said Patricia Strang.
To escape the winter months in the Maritimes, Patricia and David Strang, a retired couple from Fredericton, booked what should have been the trip of a lifetime.
“We had a 67-day cruise with the Queen Mary all around Indonesia, Australia, South Africa, and up to South Hampton and we ended up on April 25th to be in New York City. … That didn’t happen.”
Just days after boarding the ship, the Strangs wound up in isolation while docked in Yokohama after a previous passenger tested positive for the coronavirus, causing COVID-19 disease.
“All our meals, they came to the door on a tray and you’d have to put a mask on to go out and get the tray because they couldn’t come in our rooms,” said Patricia Strang.
Every four days they were permitted to leave their room, but overcrowded decks scared them back into the seclusion of their cabin, which provided a frightening view from the balcony.
“At first we would see like 10 ambulances and go, ‘oh my gosh’, then we’d look out and we’d see 40 ambulances and you’d see them all with their gear on and everything else and the ambulance would be right up to the boat but it was covered up so nobody could see who was taken out and that was really scary,” said Patricia Strang.
In a statement about the COVID-19 outbreak on the Diamond Princess, the government of Canada says: “over 700 cases were detected on the ship during the 14 day quarantine period. All passengers have completed the quarantine period and disembarked.”
After testing negative for coronavirus, the couple flew back to Canada to face a daunting prospect: another round of quarantine in Cornwall, Ont.
“Just thinking about we got to do another 14 days of this and not knowing what that facility was like,” said David Strang.
Red Cross greeted them at the airport in Trenton, Ont., and they stayed in a hotel for another 14 days in complete isolation. The Strangs again tested negative for coronavirus in Cornwall, giving them clearance to fly home to Fredericton.
David and Patricia credit Princess Cruise Lines for standing by them every step of the journey home.
“They gave us back all our money even for the 15-day one that we did, plus gave us credit for the same amount for a future cruise, and same with the eight-day one that we didn’t take, which I thought was really good of Princess,” said Patricia Strang.
The couple say they are over the moon to be home and plan to stay put and recover from the exhausting ordeal.
“We’re going to enjoy home for a few weeks, maybe months even,” David Stang said and laughed.