How was I to know the subject of this holiday snap would become international news? It’s August of 2016 and my wife and I are enjoying a walk around Yokohama’s docks. In the distance is a cruise ship far larger than any I’d seen before. I took a couple of photos as we chatted about it and then moved on. Lunch awaited, if I remember correctly.
Roll forward to early 2020 and the “plague ship” headlines. Thousands of passengers and crew were trapped aboard a cruise ship as an outbreak of the new “Coronavirus” was reported. Passengers were confined to their cabins to contain the outbreak. Many complained about the “poor service” they received, blind to the same disease running through the crew. And as they endured, Japanese Health Officials struggled to contain the outbreak. This was before Covid-19 became a pandemic, and information about how the disease was spread and evolved was in short supply.
It was after the ship had left Yokohama that I rediscovered the photo. I’d have thought nothing of it had a flash of recognition not caught my attention. I closed in on the ship’s name, proudly stated on her midships.
By then I was living in the UK’s lockdown. I was a passenger, confined to quarters and only permitted outside for the most basic of necessities. In the shops I visited for my staples were the crew, low paid, doing the best they could under trying circumstances. Enduring the complaints and bullshit of fellow passengers who saw their own needs as more important than the safety and wellbeing of those who served them. Passengers driven by the sense of entitlement UK culture seems to foster.
The name “Diamond Princess” has been cemented in history. Valuable lessons were learnt about this new disease called “Covid-19” that would soon affect so many lives. It will appear in academic papers, personal accounts and reflective analysis for decades to come. The people onboard will be reduced to statistics, be they crew or passenger.
I for one am glad I saw it in more innocent times. A time when she was just a cruise liner waiting to take excited passengers to her next port of call.