'We both cried:' Callander couple heading home after two weeks trapped on cruise ship with coronavirus

The dozens of Canadians who have been trapped aboard a cruise ship infected with coronavirus for the past two weeks are about to go home, including a couple from Callander.

600 of the 3,700 passengers have tested positive, including 43 Canadians

After two weeks trapped on board, some 200 Canadians will soon be leaving the Diamond Princess cruiseship and boarding a plane chartered by the Canadian government. (Mayuko Isobe/Kyodo News/The Associated Press)

With the hours ticking away until a plane chartered by the Canadian government was scheduled to take off, Trudy and Steve Clement were nervously awaiting their test results.

If, after two weeks stuck in the cruise ship room she describes as a "luxurious prison," they finally tested positive for coronavirus, they wouldn't be allowed to return to Canada.

"Someone knocked on the door about 10 this morning and handed us two pieces of paper, a very nice crew member and he said, 'Congratulations, you're going home,'" says Trudy, who is from the small northern Ontario town of Callander. 

"We both cried."

When CBC's Morning North spoke to her Thursday morning, their bags were packed and waiting in the hallway outside of the room they've been confined to since Feb. 4, aside from a one-hour stroll around the decks of the Diamond Princess every three days.

Trudy Clement and her husband Steve are excited to finally be leaving their cruiseship room after two weeks. But they are facing another two weeks in quarantine in Canada, before getting home to Callander. (CBC)

Trudy says she and Steve take a cruise every year and it wasn't until the end of this voyage that an announcement was made that the coronavirus they'd be reading about in the news was spreading through the ship.

Of the 3,700 passengers, about 600 have contracted the COVID-19 virus, including 43 Canadians, who will be taken to hospital in Japan when they leave the ship.

Trudy says one of the hardest moments was the first day quarantined in their room when waiters came to the door carrying their food, wearing protective suits, masks and gloves.

"I lost it," she remembers. 

"It really hit home seeing them like that and then knowing they couldn't cross the threshold into our cabin and we couldn't step out. And that was what hit home right there for me."

She says Japanese officials have been roaming the ship making sure passengers don't leave their rooms and don't stand too close to each other when they're allowed out for fresh air.

"It's very freaky," she says.

Trudy says she got stress relief from the long days in the cabin by doing media interviews and speaking with friends and family back home.

"I think my husband and I have become much closer than we've ever been," she says.

"We talk more. We've had to deal with tough issues more and and yeah, we're in it for the long run."

When they arrive in Canada, the Clements will be taken to the Nav Centre in Cornwall in southern Ontario for another two weeks of quarantine. 

"If it makes everything better for our family, friends and the community feels more at ease, we'll do this. Just to let them know, we're OK. We're not sick. We're not going to spread this," says Trudy.


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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