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Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020

Here's How Two Teens Are Dealing With Being Trapped On A Quarantined Coronavirus Cruise Ship

"If the kids want boundaries, they head up [to] their bunk bed and put on their headphones," the mom told BuzzFeed News.

Being trapped in a tiny windowless interior room of a cruise ship with your parents for two weeks may not be a dream holiday, but one family quarantined on the Diamond Princess due to a coronavirus outbreak is making the best of it.

"All you need is a pair of headphones and music, and you are all set," Xander Soh, 19, told BuzzFeed News.

Soh, his 16-year-old sister, Kaitlyn, and their parents are among the approximately 3,700 people -including around 1,000 cruise ship staffers -stuck on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in the port of Yokohama in Japan.

So far, 61 people on the ship have tested positive for coronavirus, and they are being treated in hospitals on land.

"We have lost all sense of time, but thankfully we have social media to chat with friends to keep us grounded and sane," said Kaitlyn.

Passengers must remain in the rooms at all times. Staffers are leaving food and drink for them outside their doors.


On Friday afternoon, cruise ship staffers let passengers from interior rooms take turns visiting the deck for fresh air for an hour at a time.

For the Soh teens, it was the first time they'd been out of their approximately 168-square-foot room since Tuesday.

Their mother, Aun Na Tan, 43, told BuzzFeed News that the coronavirus quarantine had initially been a huge shock, particularly after learning they would not be allowed to leave until Feb. 19. Luckily, none of the Soh family members have displayed any virus symptoms. (Staffers provided passengers with thermometers to check their temperature.)

"I had to spend a little time composing emails to the kids’ schools [and] dance and music teachers, and it slowly calmed us down," she said.

The family was supposed to have already returned to their home in Melbourne, Australia -they've had to cancel flights twice -and because of the quarantine, Kaitlyn will miss final callbacks for a dance role with the Victorian State Schools Spectacular, a big musical theater event for public schools.

The family will also miss out on a Queen and Adam Lambert concert "that we were very much looking forward to!" said Tan.

But right now, the family is just trying to make the best of it.

This is the third cruise the family has taken together -although it was the first time they chose an interior room, not one with a balcony - and Tan said she's confident they will cruise again even after this experience.

"We mesh along quite well and make jokes. And if the kids want boundaries, they head up [to] their bunk bed and put on their headphones," said Tan.

Every day, the cruise's kids club team members have dropped by to check on Kaitlyn and leave her care packages of games, activities, coloring books, and even a soft toy.

The teens love to dance, but the lack of space limits them to just some basic stretches.

Instead, they entertain themselves by reading, watching videos, and playing on their phones. Kaitlyn said she's "relieving my boredom by surfing BuzzFeed and K-pop news." (We appreciate you, Kaitlyn!)

Their dad, Jeff Soh, is working remotely for his job at a financial institution from the room's small desk.

Tan worries what the end of the quarantine will mean for her family and if their return to Australia may result in further waiting.

"Will we be subjected to more quarantine?" she asked. "That is our biggest worry at the moment. We don’t know what our standing is and what we need to get through before we are finally home and back to everyday life.

"But we bounced back to look at this time as an adventure," she told BuzzFeed News. "We are safe, we are together, we are in comfort, and we are being looked after by the crew. We are a positive bunch, and we’ll be alright."

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