As the coronavirus continues to spread across eastern China, a cruise ship with more than 4,000 passengers and crew members remains quarantined off the coast of Japan. Kim Hamaura Phillips, an agent at RE/MAX Treeland in Langley, British Columbia, is among the passengers currently stranded aboard the Diamond Princess.
Phillips and her husband began their two-week cruise on Jan. 20 but didn’t dock as planned on Feb. 4. As the respiratory syndrome began spreading, the ship was placed in quarantine off the coast of Tokyo and passengers aren’t slated to leave until Feb. 14. Around 2,670 guests and 1,100 crew members have been told to stay in their rooms and avoid going out as they are brought in food and monitored for signs of the disease.
“Every day we hear about the new positive cases and we have been seeing the slew of ambulances at the dock,” Phillips told Inman. “It’s surreal.”
From her cabin at sea, Phillips has told us what it’s like to be quarantined on a ship amid a major health outbreak:
How did you react when you found out that you would have to stay aboard for another two weeks?
We knew something was amiss on Feb. 3 as we heard an announcement that we were heading back to Yokohama Port and will dock 12 hours early. The usual procedure on the last night of sailing, you put your bags all out the door and only keep what you will need in the morning to disembark. Upon returning to our stateroom, we noticed our bags were brought back in. At approximately 8:30am the following morning the Captain came on the loudspeaker and announced that we will all be quarantined for 14 days in our cabins. My husband and I looked at each other and were speechless! It was incomprehensible.
What is the experience like? How are you staying positive?
Every day is different. We have our ups and downs. Friends back home send us links of the news they see, but we see it all and more here. I find it depressing. I believe a positive mind is so important when you are put in a situation like this. Every day we hear about the new positive cases and we have been seeing the slew of ambulances at the dock. It’s surreal. The captain and the crew have been unbelievable and have gone above and beyond in this unfortunate situation. They too are quarantined and have to work and please the passengers. I feel so much for them! A quote I received from a close Realtor friend is “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
This has resonated with me.
How are you passing the time? Do you get cabin fever?
My mornings are filled up speaking to my parents, kids and my hardworking team at home. It’s very hard being away when it’s a very busy market and you’re a workaholic. The day surprisingly goes by quite quickly. I have never had so many people reach out to me before, so between social media, emails, bomb bomb, texts and calls I am keeping quite busy! I am trying to also keep my friends and family updated as much as possible. I have been trying to respond to each message, but I have realized that there are just so many, I know I am missing the odd one. I never realized I knew so many caring people. I have also been doing some reading, Tai Chi, meditation, beating my husband at cards and watching the shows on the in-house TV networks or my apps on my iPad.
Are your real estate colleagues and clients checking up on you? What’s it like to be away from work in this way?
My real estate colleagues, not just at home but across the country have reached out to me. I have heard from Realtors I have never met. I have also connected with another Realtor who is here on the ship. We have never met in person, but she “friended” me on Facebook and we have corresponded while quarantined. To say “I feel the love” is an understatement.
My team put together a beautiful, heart-warming and funny video from Realtors and staff from the RE/MAX Treeland office. I also receive a daily video clip from two good friends who are Realtors I have become close to from the Richard Robbins Coaching program I belong to. They live across the country from me also. The love, encouragement and support is overwhelming.