08:30 Good morning everyone! Breakfast + embassy email.
We had a hash brown, two boiled eggs. a muffin, sausage, and cold beans with miso soup. The bananas unfortunately were rotten.
The embassy letter highlights: If we don’t take this charter flight, we won’t be able to return to the US until 3/4/2020 at the earliest, pending lack of symptoms/positive test results. There is no information on how we would get those tests at the end of our 14 days here. Regardless of decision, it’ll be 14 days minimum before getting home.
The CDC has deemed our ship to be a significantly high risk area for contracting Covid-19.
We will be tested and screened upon boarding the flight, but test results will not come back until we are stateside – this means we will potentially be in an enclosed, tightly packed space with infected passengers.
We will either be at Travis Air Force base in Fairfield, CA or Lackland Air Force base near San Antonio, Texas. We hope they send us both to Texas, as this is only five hours from our home via car.
Medical professionals/care will be available during the flight.
If an immediate family member is a non-US citizen, they will also be accommodated on the flight.
We will not be liable for the cost of the flight back to the US, however, rumor has it that we will have to pay for quarantine costs. Not sure how true this is. We will be responsible for travel costs home upon completion of quarantine.
If anyone stays, the CDC locks them out of the US until 3/4/2020 at the earliest, and will be subject to Japanese authorities requests for further disease control measures.
Please forgive me if I take awhile on replies – busy day today with packing. I will continue to update this thread upon arrival to the US. During our flight, I will write everything in a note pad, after which I’ll dump it onto here with time stamps upon arrival.
12:53 Had some quarantine officers in hazmat suits come by and screen us. They asked if we had any symptoms, verified our name and date of birth, medical conditions, and if we had medication to last our trip.
13:30 Looks like there were 70 additional cases today, with around 350 cases total. My wife has been getting calls to our stateroom from other passengers asking about our US flight – some people did not get a confirmation email for their flight. For whatever reason, we couldn’t contact the embassy. We found that if we call the US Department of State, they can shoot us over to the Tokyo US embassy. We’ve let those who have called know this, and taught them about wifi calling to prevent international charges. Keeping proactive today! Packing, showered, made a go-bag, made phone calls, and watching restaurant impossible. We’re waiting on lunch and an update from the embassy.
14:45 Doctors from the CDC came to our door to prep us for our flight. They asked if we were feeling okay, where we lived, any medical conditions, and what to pack. They asked us to pack enough for three days into our carry-on, as our luggage won’t be immediately available. Their hazmat suits were quite upgraded from those of the Japanese health ministry – they had air filters running through their suits. They also had a full helmet, rather than a mask. Funny story! When asking our city, I guess I said it with more of a Texan drawl than I thought. “Irving!” I said. “..is that with a G?” The CDC guy. Wife won’t let me live it down. Joke’s on them!
“Yankee” is written on their back to distinguish between American and Japanese authorities.
15:18 Captains announcement with the ministry of health regarding disembarkation at the end of the quarantine period. The ministry has been doing test on those 70+. If these individuals test negative, and do not show symptoms by the 19th, they will be able to disembark in japan with no travel restriction by the Japanese government. At this point, the governments of each individual will determine whether or not there will be additional measure like that of the USA. After this age group, everyone else that has yet to test will be tested following the same guidelines. Those who were stateroom roommates with someone who tested positive have their quarantine period extended – the quarantine will be 14 days from date of final contact. These individuals will be tested following the same guidelines after their quarantine period.
16:38 Here we go, game on! All luggage must be outside of our rooms for pickup by 18:00. We are being told to pack a bag with 3 days worth of supplies, as we may not get our luggage for awhile. Luggage tags will be delivered to our rooms. After this, we will be notified when it is our turn to disembark. Hoping we get some food before leaving! We aren’t being told where we are going yet. We can bring a maximum of 2 bags per person. Departure time will be as per the embassy.
18:17 Per the embassy: the new luggage collection time is 19:00. We have yet to receive our tags. We’re packed and ready to go! We managed to get everything packed perfectly, not leaving anything behind. Hardly we’re able to close our go-bags, as three days is a long time for a tiny backpack to handle!
We also tried to tip our stateroom attendant. Unfortunately, we were told that he fell ill and was disembarked. We believe he is in a hospital somewhere in japan. I will reach out to the company to get his information, as we planned to give him ~$300 directly.
For dinner, we have a deli meat sandwich, a vegetarian sandwich, cake, pineapple, and quiche.
Personalized kitkats & soy sauce.
We found that in Japan, there are MANY different flavors of KitKats to try! Not sure why this isn’t a thing in the states?
I expect things to get busy soon. Updates may be hard to post in real time, but I will back log as needed.
I will also be starting part three tomorrow, with a link provided. I’m close to the character count again. This part will start the new chapter of arriving in the US.
Still no luggage tags – there is a delay.
19:42 Captain announcement! Canadians and Hong Kong citizens/permanent residents will be evacuated as well via chartered flights. They both will endure another 14 day quarantine, similar to that of the USA. Canadians must RSVP by tomorrow (Monday) morning at 8am. He acknowledges the USA citizens have mixed feeling over leaving, but he says a huge thank you for our outstanding support. He wishes a safe journey over the pacific, and sends his thoughts as we start our new chapter.
He then switched up for a weather update! There are two areas of low pressure moving over the areas that we sailed the last few days causing wind speeds of over 50 knots, which is ~92 kilometers per hour. The sea will be around 4-5m higher than usual. He advises that while we all miss the sea breeze, the Diamond Princess is very much in the safest location for the storm – protected within Tokyo Bay.
He sends another huge thank you on behalf of Princess for our support, our positivity, and beliefs.
This is the final announcement we will hear from him. A very strange, yet emotional experience for whatever reason.
20:05 An announcement came overhead – luggage tags being delivered now.
20:25 Luggage tags are here! They warned us that the plan will be cold, and that we should dress in layers. They asked everyone to shower and put on fresh clothes. They also asked us to use the restroom. Hopefully they have restrooms on the plan! It’s a 12 hour flight.
20:33 Princess is covering our flight back home after our quarantine ends. More info on care packages as available, per information given.
20:54 Annnnnd here it goes! Quarantine officials are now going around disembarking American guests. My updates may slow, but will update as able. I’ll be focusing on getting footage during this time – oh, and I guess maybe not contracting the virus. 😅
22:00 The first group of Americans have been called over the intercom to disembark the ship on the 4th deck, forward.
22:18 The second group has been called. They are calling for plane #1 at this time – my wife and I are plane #2. It will be gutted cargo planes, and very cold.
22:21 Next group.
22:42 Next group.
22:48 Next group. PS I will add deck # and all that jazz later.
23:34 Next group! This is the start of plane 2. This is our plane.
23:58 Next group!