A Look Inside a Cruise Ship’s Journey During Coronavirus | WSJ

Jennifer Catron boarded Carnival’s Costa Luminosa on March 5 for a transatlantic cruise. Her video diaries provide a window into life on board the ship as the coronavirus scare became a full-blown pandemic.

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Transcript

– Wow, going on the plank.- [Narrator] On March 5th, Jennifer Catronof Fredericksburg, Virginia,
walks up the gang plankto the cruise ship Costa Luminosa,operated by Costa Cruises and
owned by Carnival Corporation.- Going on it.Oh my gosh, wait!- [Narrator] She's documenting
her first solo tripwithout her husband or children.- We're gonna go exploring the ship.- [Narrator] The ship is scheduledto leave Fort Lauderdale that evening,sail south through the Caribbean,and east across the
Atlantic, but by this point,the new coronavirus was already spreadingin countries outside of
China, including an outbreakin February on the Diamond
Princess, also owned by Carnival.More than 700 people on
that ship had been infected,and seven had died, according tothe World Health Organization.Carnival kept cruising.Over the two weeks Jennifer
spent on the Costa Luminosa,she recorded more than 100 separate videosof herself and her fellow passengers.Jennifer's videos offer a look
at life on board the ship.The Costa Luminosa, like the
Diamond Princess before it,became a floating incubator,
putting passengersand crew at risk, and
helping to spread the virusaround the world.Carnival said that
COVID-19 has spread rapidlythroughout communities, and cruise shipsare literally microcosms
of what is occurringin major population centers.(mysterious music)The story of the Costa Luminosa
begins on February 29th.An Italian passenger is taken off the shipin the Cayman Islands
and to a local hospital.He is suffering from double pneumoniaand has had a heart attack,according to subsequent
interviews with his son.The Luminosa then heads south
to Mahogany Bay, Honduras.It turns north to Cozumel, Mexico,then it heads east to port
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,where it would pick up more
passengers, including Jennifer.- So far, I think it's gonna be great.When I first boarded and
I started walking around,I thought, oh my gosh,
I'm gonna get so bored.I got my itinerary for tomorrowand I completely changed my mind.- [Narrator] The Costa Luminosa
departs Fort Lauderdaleon the evening of March 5thand sails south along the Bahamas.It arrives in the port
of San Juan, Puerto Rico,on March 8th.Hundreds of passengers disembark.Jennifer heads to the old city.- It's so beautiful.Incredible, absolutely incredible.People here are friendly.There's already people in
the bars and restaurants.- [Narrator] Jennifer returns to the ship.An ambulance picks up an Italian passengerin respiratory distress and
takes her to a local hospital.A coast guard spokesman says the Luminosadidn't tell authorities about
illnesses aboard the shipwhile it was docked.Carnival said it was
acceptable to notify themafter the fact, in view
of the emergency natureof the passenger transfer.The coast guard is investigating.The ship leaves Puerto Rico and sets sailfor St. John's, Antigua on
the evening of March 8th.They arrive the following
day, but are denied entry.The government said the
Luminosa did not inform themin a timely fashion that there had beena passenger on board with
symptoms of an infectious disease.Carnival said that the Luminosa followedthe required regulatory protocol.The Costa Luminosa then turns eastand heads out into the open ocean.- Staff members are cleaning a lot more.They're doing surfaces.People are still serving
themselves in the buffetand people are still congregatingand activities are
still going on on board.Right now there's not a whole lot left.As you can hear, there's still
coughing in the background.- [Narrator] The ship heads intothe middle of the Atlantic ocean.Group activities keep up
much as they had before.People congregate in
restaurants and in bars.- Okay, so here's life on the shipafter we just found out that
there are no ports in Spainthat are willing to take us.We don't know where
we're going to re-fuel.People are still milling around.This is Friday the 13th,
March 13th, 2020, guys,and we are on a boat with no place to go.I am seeing this situation
deteriorate hour by hour.We're not quite at a minute by minutedeterioration at this point.- [Narrator] The party continues.In the early morning hours
on Saturday the 14th,passengers gather for a singalong.Jennifer discovers some bad news.- I found an article onlinesaying that the lady in
San Juan was positive.It's actually getting pretty real.- [Narrator] Late that
night, the ship confirmsthe couple dropped off in
San Juan have coronavirus,two of the island's first three cases,according to the government.By March 15th, more bad news.Jennifer has learned that
the Italian passengerwho disembarked in the Cayman
Islands in late Februaryhas died with COVID-19.The Costa Luminosa is docked in the portof Santa Crus de Tenerife,
in Spain's Canary Islands.The passengers are not
allowed to disembark.- [Announcer] Ladies and gentlemen,may I have your attention, please.(faintly speaking)- [Jennifer] Police officers.- [Passenger] They're very
serious about it, aren't they?Bloody hell.- [Jennifer] They just don't
want anybody getting off.They don't want anybody jumping ship.- [Narrator] Three sick passengersand their travel companions leave the shipto seek medical care.(passenger coughing)On the evening of the
15th, the ship announcesthat passengers are to
return to their rooms.By the morning of March 16th,
all restaurants are closed.- [Announcer] May I have
your attention please.In regards to the passengers
who disembarked in Tenerife,we have no further updates
on their condition,and again, we will update
you as soon as is possible.- Last night I woke up at 2:00and I thought it was 2:00 p.m.I have no windows in here.There's nothing.It's literally the size of a closet.The bed takes up the entire room.I'm having a hard time
allaying my doubts and my fearsto try and trust the
people that are in charge.- [Narrator] It is March 19th,and the Costa Luminosa arrives
at the port of Marseille.The French government has given
the ship permission to dock.- [Announcer] Please strictly
follow our instructionsthat you have received
regarding your disembarkation.Our teams are working around the clockin a situation which is
evolving very rapidly.- [Narrator] The French
government has given the shippermission to dock, and
more than 700 passengersprepare to disembark.Italian passengers remain on boarduntil the ship reaches its
final destination in Italy.Jennifer and others wait for
hours in buses on the dock.Multiple passengers reportthere is little or nothing to eat.After nightfall, they are
escorted by police carsto the airport to catch a planechartered to take them to Atlanta.The plane takes off after midnight.Several passengers
interviewed by The Journalwitness others collapsing,
though it's not clearif it's from illness or exhaustion.Jennifer helps tend to the sick.The plane lands in Atlantaearly on the morning of March 20th.Passengers without fevers
are allowed to walkinto the airport and
to connecting flights.Jennifer collapses in the airport.She gets to a hotel to quarantine.So I ended up in the
emergency room last nightor yesterday morning at the airport.I guess the doctor said it
was just pure exhaustionfrom not having slept or from
not having food for so long.So hopefully we'll go home soon.- [Narrator] Jennifer Catron
returned home on April 1st.She was never tested for coronavirus.She's since joined a class action lawsuitagainst Costa Cruises.Carnival says it cannot confirmhow many people on board the Luminosahave since died with COVID-19.But passengers have been crowd-sourcingtheir own unofficial tally
through a Facebook group.So far they've counted 15 dead.(dramatic music)

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