Guests on quarantined Diamond Princess allowed disembarking

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Guests on quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess will be allowed to disembark to stay in a shoreside facility.

Princess Cruises said Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation with the most medically vulnerable guests given priority.

The update came as another 44 cases of the virus were confirmed on Diamond Princess to bring the total up to 218.

A Princess Cruises spokesperson said: ”Princess Cruises has been informed that over the next several days, Japanese health officials are planning voluntary disembarkation of guests to complete their quarantine period at a shoreside facility.

“From the information available it is our understanding that this will be a phased approach, with the most medically vulnerable guests in the first phase, including older adults with pre-existing health conditions.

“According to officials, guests in the first group will be tested for the 2019 novel coronavirus. If the test is positive, they will be transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and isolation. If the test is negative, they will be given the option to leave the ship and be transported to a quarantine housing facility.

“These are the details provided by health officials about the temporary facilities:

• The housing facility includes individual rooms and individual bathrooms

• There are no clinics at these facilities. Prescription medication will be provided, but medical care will require transport to a hospital or clinic.

• The food available will not accommodate dietary preferences but will accommodate certain medical conditions.  The meals provided will be Japanese bento-style boxes. No Western meals will be available.

“Princess Cruises confirmed that all guests on Diamond Princess remain welcome to stay onboard through to the end of the quarantine period.

“Princess Cruises also confirms the announcement, from Japan health officials, of 44 new positive cases of Coronavirus onboard Diamond Princess.”

In a letter sent to the ship’s crew, Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz said the line was “deeply grateful” and “incredibly proud” of staff on Diamond Princess.

She revealed that crew would receive two months paid leave for “much needed rest” once they had left the quarantined ship.

“We will also handle your flights to return home and your job will be protected to return for another contract,” she added.

Princess to offer land packages with Japan cruises

Princess Cruises said it will offer pre- and post-cruise land tours for 2016 Japan cruises on the Diamond Princess.

When Princess launched cruises from Japanese homeports in 2013, they were designed for Japanese travelers, but they have proved popular with North Americans.

The new multi-day land packages explore the departure cities Kyoto and Tokyo. The Kyoto tours will include sightseeing at Nijo Castle, the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and popular Japanese gardens, Princess said. In Tokyo, there will be city tours as well as visits to Mt. Fuji, Togendai and Lake Ashi.

The 2016 season will again run from April through October and feature four- to 20-day cruises, including circumnavigations of Japan, two new ports of call on the island of Kyushu, along with visits to Korea, Taiwan and Russia.

Although the cruises have found an international audience, Diamond Princess remains customized for Japanese guests. The ship features a traditional Izumi Japanese bath, a restaurant with made-to-order sushi and a large selection of sake, a traditional Japanese breakfast omelet, noodle stations and unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as “rakugo” storytelling performances and origami classes.

Sales for the 2016 Japan cruises open April 16.

Diamond Princess to get more Japanese amenities

By Tom Stieghorst
Princess Cruises said its Diamond Princess ship will undergo a renovation that will add a sushi restaurant and the largest Japanese bath at sea.

The $30 million refurbishment is intended to get the ship ready for its second year of seasonal sailings in Japan, Princess said.

Other improvements include enhanced shopping areas, a revitalized Horizon Court, 14 more staterooms, new interior furnishings and finishes, fresh hull paint and exterior refurbishment, and contemporary and Asian-style touches.

The most dramatic new feature, the 8,800-square-foot bath and garden complex, will include indoor and outdoor bathing areas. The 66-seat sushi restaurant will feature table seating and a sushi bar.

Princess said onboard shopping would be restyled to fit Japanese tastes, including the addition of a luxury watch boutique. The work is scheduled to be finished April 2 ahead of the start of the summer season in Japan on April 17.