Resilience Natural Disasters

José Andrés’ nonprofit is feeding the passengers quarantined on the Diamond Princess

the diamond princess cruise ship docked at a port in Yokohama, Japan

Story at a glance

  • Hundreds of passengers are still quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship during the recent coronavirus update.
  • The World Central Kitchen, founded by José Andrés, has set up portable kitchens at the port in Yokohama, Japan, where the ship is held.
  • Andrés’ nonprofit is providing meals to passengers in its latest effort to help feed people after natural disasters.

Chef José Andrés owns more than two dozen restaurants, but his organization, World Central Kitchen, has served more people around the world than any of the others. It’s latest venue is in Yokohama, where members of the WCK team are cooking up meals to serve the people quarantined on the Diamond Princess. 

Hundreds of people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been quarantined since it arrived at the Yokohama port on Feb. 4, after a guest on a previous voyage tested positive for the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19. In that time, Princess Cruises, which is refunding the full cruise fare for passengers, has said it is not charging for services including internet and telephone services, as well as added television and movie options and food and beverage. 

On Feb. 19, Jose Andres tweeted a picture of portable kitchens set up at the Yokohama port by his nonprofit, which has been there for the past week. 

Chefs prepare and cook fresh meals for passengers, and a logistics team is working with the cruise ship and Japanese government to get them on board the ship. The food is reheated in the portable kitchens and delivered to the doors of passengers in their rooms aboard the ship. 

“The crew members on the Diamond Princess have been working tirelessly to care for the guests of the ship, while also needing to take care of themselves through the quarantine,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “[World Central Kitchen] is here to help their team serve the ship’s passengers by making the safe delivery of delicious meals one less thing to worry about as they carefully and expertly navigate this situation – while also making sure that the crew is able to enjoy warm, nourishing meals every day.”

Two cruise passengers have died from COVID-19, according to Japanese authorities, as concerns grow about conditions on board. The quarantine was lifted on Feb. 19, but many are still aboard as Japanese health authorities are testing all passengers for COVID-19 before allowing them to disembark.

At least 428 Americans were on the ship until they were evacuated and flown home just days ago. They have been quarantined in Omaha, Neb., where they are being tested and treated for COVID-19. 

In China alone, almost 75,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 2,000 have died, according to the World Health Organization.