Australian couple onboard Diamond Princess

Coralie and Paul Williamson are among the 3,700 people caught on board the Diamond Princess. Courtesy: Paul Williamson

Queensland couple Paul and Coralie Williamson will spend the next fortnight confined to their cabin aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan amid a coronavirus outbreak that has struck down 20 people so far.

While their health is fine, they face a major mental challenge surviving in the cramped space.

“It’s got an ensuite, but we can’t both walk past the end of the bed at the same time, so you know it is smaller than a motel room,” Ms Williamson said.

However, the pair consider themselves the lucky ones as their room boasts a balcony and fresh air, while others on board have no windows at all.

Paul and Coralie Williamson stand aboard a boat with sunglasses on hugging each other and smiling.

The couple have been kept informed through broadcasts made every few hours, but they first learned about the outbreak through the media.

“It is surreal, it’s quite bizarre,” Mr Williamson, a former principal, said.

Six different nationalities are on board but broadcasts have only been done in English and Japanese, meaning the information has not been directly filtered through to everyone.

A room service menu on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Passengers have been unable to interact with one another, with the only outside human contact coming from staff members delivering food to the rooms.

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

A lack of fresh food and irregular hours of delivery have also added to the challenging situation many on board are facing.

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Breakfast would not be delivered until 10:00am and dinner came after 9:00pm, which was trying for Ms Williamson who is a self-professed “foodie”.

She said fresh food had not been on the menu since January 20, but things were turning around and food supplies were expected to be picked up from the mainland today.

While it takes the term cabin fever to another level, the Williamsons were finding innovative ways to keep themselves occupied.

“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,” Mr Williamson said.

They are rationing their movie stash and are planning to document their experiences on the inside.

“Already we’re forgetting what day things happen, so we’ve got a bit of a diary going now, so that will keep us busy,” Mr Williamson said.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

After 34 years of marriage, it’s a test the pair said they would take in their stride.

“If I’m going be stuck in a room with anyone I would rather it be Paul than anyone else,” Ms Williamson said.

“So it’s OK. We will need to go for a long walk on the beach when we get home to the coast.”

A family smiling at the camera inside a ship’s cabin, a man facing away in the background

Melbourne resident Aun Na Tan is also on board with her husband and two kids. She said they were safe and comfortable in their cabin.

“So far, we are being asked to remain in our rooms, so we haven’t seen anyone else other than the crew supporting us by bringing our food, bottles of water and soft drinks and taking rubbish away,” Ms Tan said.

“We’ve heard some irate people verbally harassing the crew, but it is out of their hands.

Three people sitting on bunk beds inside a ship’s cabin

“I believe they are trying their best in this situation to assist us where they can.

“Our family is trying to stay positive and calm in this time.”

Almost 4,000 passengers are in lockdown on the Diamond Princess, with ten people — including two Australians — testing positive for the virus yesterday and a further 10 people testing positive today.

Of the latest 10 passengers who tested positive they include four people from Japan, one from Taiwan, two Americans, two Canadians and one from New Zealand.

Source: ABC News