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Chile Earthquake Impacts Cruise

February 28, 2010
(4 a.m. EST) -- The devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Chile Saturday, some 200 miles from Santiago, its capital, has killed hundreds of people – and sent shockwaves around the world in the face of fears that it would create deadly tsunami waves. Tsunami warnings have since been discontinued worldwide.

Our thoughts go out to all affected.

Cruise travelers, from Chile to Los Angeles to Hawaii, have been mildly impacted at this point. Here's what we know so far:

Santiago

Currently in its high season for cruise travel, Santiago is typically an embarkation/debarkation port for what's called “around the horn cruises” that go from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso, Chile's major port city.

The only other ship due for a turn-around in Valparaiso this week is Princess' Star Princess. Santiago's airport is now closed and passengers either bound for the ship or completing their cruises and expecting to fly home (or go on for past-cruise stay in Santiago) should be prepared for delay. However, Princess officials released a statement Saturday saying no changes are expected at this time.

That's it for the next few days. The following week, ships due to call at Valparaiso are Oceania's Insignia (March 7) and Silversea's Silver Spirit (March 8). It's too soon yet to know if these ships will be impacted.

Hawaii

In response to early morning tsunami warnings on Saturday, Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America, which was due to call there for a debark, wound up staying at sea for the greater part of the morning. A statement from NCL has verified that the port has reopened, and the ship arrived at about 8 p.m. E.S.T. (3 p.m. H.S.T.). The ship's next sailing, a seven-night Hawaii voyage, will depart between midnight and 2 a.m. E.S.T. (7 and 9 p.m. H.S.T.).

Other Ports Affected

At this point, cruise operations in the major port cities of Japan, though still on tsunami watch, it's still the off-season there and no ship visits are on the horizon. In Los Angeles, however, Princess Cruises tells us that Sapphire Princess did depart late on its Mexican Riviera voyage because the port was briefly closed due to a tsunami warning. It's since reopened and the ship has departed.

We'll be keeping an eye on delays and cancellations, should they continue to occur, and will also provide updates about the port of Valparaiso. Stay tuned.

--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor

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