The captain of the coronavirus-infested diamond princess has calmed jokes and provided important health information in his Italian accent. He calmed the nerves and received praise for his leadership.
Gennaro Arma started his career at Princess Cruises in 1998 as a humble cadet and, according to the company, rose in 2018 to take the helm of the Diamond Princess.
"Captain Arma was born on the beautiful Sorrento peninsula in Italy and has always loved the sea," says the company.
But he could hardly have imagined a greater challenge for the tour than he was the captain of the Diamond Princess, in which more than 600 people tested positive for corona virus during a fortnightly quarantine on his watch.
His frequent messages to 2,600 passengers, who are housed around the clock in sometimes tiny, windowless cabins, have tried to keep them up to date and to raise their spirits, even if new positive tests appear every day.
"A diamond is a piece of coal that did a really good job under pressure," he said to the passengers, referring to the ship's name and asking them to read social media support messages under the hashtag #hangintherediamondprincess.
"I am confident that as a family we can stay together and successfully complete this journey together. The world is watching us. This is another reason for all of us to show our strength."
On Valentine's Day, he sent chocolates and hearts to the passengers with encouraging notes and recited a passage about love from the Bible.
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
"New gray hair"
When the hot days of quarantine passed and nerves were frayed, the passengers trusted his soothing tone.
"One reason why the passengers did not panic is because of the captain's guidance," tweeted a person on board.
"Regular announcements of information, responding to passenger inquiries by consulting quarantine officers, walking on the deck, sorry for the late delivery of medication … I want this type of man to be the leader of our country."
Another said he reminded him of Captain Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger, who calmly drove a battered airliner onto the Hudson River in New York.
Arma often expressed appreciation for the many messages of support passengers that had been sent to him – one that was said to be aimed at the "fearless commander" – and assured them that he would stand the strain.
"For all of you who are worried about me, I am extremely moved by your kindness and would like to assure you all that I am absolutely fine. I am almost the same captain that I was 12 days ago. Only with a few new gray hair, "he said.
He sprinkled his messages generously with Italian phrases such as "arrivederci" (goodbye) from departing passengers or "buon appetito" (enjoy your meal) and shyly apologized for his strong Italian accent when he spoke English.
"One of my friends at home sent me a video of one of my announcements. I would like to apologize to all of you for having to go through them again and again," he said.
Trust me, when I heard the sound of my voice, I was shocked at how terrible I sounded. However, I blame the mask and stick to this story. "
At home, he was hailed as "il capitano coraggioso" (Captain Courageous) and even as "Anti-Schettino", a reference to another Italian cruise captain with a less excellent reputation.
Francesco Schettino was named "Captain Coward" after spending a night on a rock when frightened passengers jumped off his Costa Concordia ship when it hit a ledge off the island of Giglio.
Arma told La Repubblica: "There is so much to do on board. My only concern is taking care of the passengers and the crew. Let's just hope it ends soon."
His wife Marianna said Arma was "calm, with a deep sense of responsibility."
"We are in contact, but we try to do it quickly so as not to waste time on the tasks that need to come first," she said.
Pietro Sagristani, the mayor of Arma's hometown Sant & # 39; Agnello, said the entire community is watching the news from Japan with concern.
"But we have confidence in him. He comes from a long line of seafarers and we know his courage."
"He'll be fine."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)