For almost a month, Matthew Smith and his wife Katherine Codekas have been aboard Carnival's Diamond Princess Cruise ship. But they haven't been enjoying a romantic extended vacation — they've beenbecause of a coronavirus outbreak on the vessel.
More than 1,000 workers are stuck on board the ship, caring for 2,666 passengers. At least 174 people from the cruise have been diagnosed with the virus, which has killed almost 1,400 people. About 60,000 cases have been confirmed or suspected globally.
Smith said he's not concerned about him and his wife — who are from California and have been married for 21 years — contracting theat this point.
"Physically, we are both feeling fine," Smith told CBS News' Patricia Corrigan on Friday. "No evidence of any illness whatsoever."
However, he said the quarantine has taken a mental toll on them both.
"Mentally and emotionally, it kinda, it kinda swims around a little bit," he said. "After this much time, and this long in quarantine, obviously even the most cheerful person — there can be moments you're thinking, 'Okay, I'm really tired of this now. Can I leave?' But we recognize that we're subject to this and just trying to get through the last bit of it, as we have before, day by day."
Smith has taken to Twitter to pass the time by providing updates and daily food reviews from onboard the ship, much to the delight of his followers.
Workers onboard the cruise did not expect to be celebratingwith these passengers, but they did their best to make the day special. Smith said the ship prepared cupid-themed menus featuring a heart-shaped dessert and brought the couple a long-stemmed red rose, some dark chocolates, lip balm and Japanese snacks as gifts.
Many women in Japan celebrate Valentine's day by giving chocolate to their partner. The following month, on White Day, men return the favor and present chocolates back.
"I told her, when we're home, on March 14, I will be getting her chocolate then," Smith said.
The couple has also used their time stuck in their room to catch up on some movies, an activity they don't do much back home. Smith said the ship is "short on comedy," but they did watch "The Goldfinch" and are planning to watch one of their favorite films, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" for Valentine's Day.
He joked that they've been avoiding movies involving "boats and diseases."
Carnival, the owner of Princess Cruises, has suspended operations from ports in China and is now canceling voyages in other parts of Asia as a result of the. The ship's lockdown is scheduled to be lifted on February 19 — 14 days after the isolation period began, and 29 days since Smith and Codekas first boarded.
"We remain confident that through next week we'll be symptom-free, virus-free, and however they decide to do it the Japanese Health Ministry will let us leave quarantine," Smith said.
When they are finally released, they plan to go to Tokyo for a few nights before traveling back to the U.S. to recover in Las Vegas. The food they are most looking forward to having? "Tacos!" Smith said.