Cruise Lines Cancel Hawaii Ports of Call Due to Volcanic Eruption

May 21, 2018
Cruise ship in Hawaii

(Updated 9:23 a.m. EDT) -- At least four cruise lines have altered itineraries as a result of an ongoing eruption by the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island.

Crystal Cruises is the latest to make changes, replacing Crystal Symphony's May 23 call at Hilo with a sea day; it will visit Kailua Kona on May 24, as planned.

Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean also previously rerouted ships. Sea Princess skipped a scheduled port of call to Hilo on May 18, while Norwegian's Hawaii-based ship, Pride of America, replaced its Hilo stop on Tuesday, May 15 with a day at sea. On May 16, in lieu of calling at Kona, the ship returned to Maui, where it had already spent the day on May 13. Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas also canceled its visit to Hilo, in the immediate wake of the volcano's most recent activity.

According to a Princess statement, "[Kona] remains open to ship traffic and is operating normally." It added: "Guests will have no disruption to shore excursions in Kona, but those with independent arrangements may find some areas of the island inaccessible. Princess advises all guests to heed all warnings from local authorities and stay out of any restricted areas."

Both Hilo and Kailua Kona are located on the Big Island, where varying levels of vog (volcanic smog) have affected the air quality in the southern part of the island.

Hilo is the largest city on Hawaii's Big Island. Volcanoes National Park, which is located some 45 minutes away from Hilo and is one of the biggest attractions on the island for cruisers, had been closed since a 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit on Friday, May 4. However, parts of the park have reopened.

Kilauea volcano erupted on Thursday, May 3, spewing lava hundreds of feet into the air. Since then, more than 20 fissures have opened in nearby communities leaking even more molten lava. The U.S. Geological Survey said, as of May 20: "Moderate-level eruption of lava continues from multiple points along the northeast end of the active fissure system." It warns that future outbreaks of the existing fissures could occur, or existing fissures can be reactivated, and that conditions around the erupting fissures can change very quickly.

--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor; updated by Gina Kramer, Editor