Hawaii Earthquake Update: Kona Reopens

October 17, 2006
Earthquake in Hawaii -- Impact on Cruises Unknown
Pride of Aloha Departure Delayed
Live Report from Pride of Hawaii; 6 A.M. Update

Kona, the section of Hawaii's Big Island that was closest to Sunday's 6.6 trembler, has reopened to cruise ships. Indeed, damage was, surprisingly, so light to the island that major tourist attractions and the tender pier were open for business beginning today.

In fact, both Pride of America and Norwegian Wind are making their planned calls at Kona today.

For a more in-depth look at the impact on Kona, we turn to Cruise Critic reader Donna Brown, a resident of the Big Island, who reports: "We're still getting pretty strong aftershocks, but power is still up, and Kona's been cleared for tender traffic, as well. Some places have lost air conditioning, have structural issues, etc. but the emergency room is open at Kona Community, at least, and it looks like North Hawaii Hospital came through fine.

"We've heard a lot of stories about hotel evacuations, but it looks like pretty much everyone is back in business at this point. The Kona International Marketplace, which draws a lot of cruise passengers, had major damage and at least part of it is closed.

"I don't think a damage assessment of the Bay or the reef has been made, or at least not made public, as yet. I think it will be pretty bad, in the near term, but the Bay is capable of self cleansing, and we will be getting the winter swells soon, which should help move the mud and debris out. I wouldn't expect much of the snorkeling there for a while, though.

"Damages to older homes and buildings have been severe, and not widely reported, and there have been some condemnations of homes in Waikoloa and elsewhere. The rural areas were also particularly hard hit with slides and so forth, but most of the tourist areas either have been, or are rapidly being, put back in shape.

"I haven't been any further than Waikoloa (from Kohala) at this point, and will report further on Kona in a few days when I have a chance to get down there."

All of the other Hawaiian islands, including Honolulu's Oahu, whose power failures on Sunday disrupted incoming and outgoing airplane travel, are also back to normal. Cruise ships in the area, including Holland America's Zaandam and NCL America's Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii, are all sailing normal itineraries.

Kona, located on the western shore (and across the still-active Kilauea volcano from Hilo, another regular stop on cruise ship itineraries), is a tender pier and ships must anchor in the harbor. Its main attractions include visits to coffee farms (Kona is home to some 500), water sports and gorgeous beaches. Popular shore excursions, which are all proceeding as normal from this point forward, include a raft and snorkel trip on a Zodiac (soft-sided boat); sea kayaking; and snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay, site of the Captain Cook monument, a protected marine sanctuary, and home to manta rays and sea turtles among other extraordinary sea life. Its main town of Kilauea is a fun spot for boutique shopping, art galleries and cafes.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor