Cruise ship close to erupting NZ volcano, many dead

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas (IMO 9697753) was close to White Island volcano, which erupted on Monday afternoon when up to 50 people were on the island.

At least five people were killed, up to 20 injured and up to two dozen reported missing after the volcano, off North Zealand’s North Island and also known as Whakaari, erupted suddenly.

Several people with burn injuries were brought by helicopter to Whakatane, the nearest town on the mainland. Some of the injured were reported to be in a critical condition.

About 50 people, New Zealanders as well as foreign tourists, were feared to have been nearby and several were seen near the rim of the crater minutes before the eruption. No-one was thought to be still on the island and alive.

Many day tours visit the island regularly, and one from the Ovation of the Seas cruise liner was there at the time.

The vessel was currently at port in Tauranga, a coastal city near White Island. The cruise began in Sydney on December 3rd.

Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise Association, said: “We believe there is a tour party from Ovation of the Seas involved in the White Island eruption. We have no further details at the moment.”

Ovation of the Seas is a 16-deck cruise ship owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises. It can take nearly 5,000 passengers and has a crew of about 1,500.

RCL said that “we can confirm that a number of our guests were touring the island today. We do not have any additional details to share at this time.”

2016-built, Bahamas-flagged, 168,666 gt Ovation of the Seas is owned by Ovation of the Seas Inc care of RCL, Miami, Florida, USA. ISM manager is RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, UK. It is entered with UK Club (Area Group Americas G7) on behalf of RCL Cruises Ltd.