South Pacific, Hawaii Off Tsunami Alert

September 29, 2009
Update, 6:05 p.m.: The NOAA now reports that all tsunami warnings and watches have been discontinued.

(5:33 p.m. EDT) -- An 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji have triggered tsunami warnings throughout the region. According to, a five-foot tsunami was already reported at Pago Pago, American Samoa, washing away homes on another nearby island. reports that the tsunami was expected to reach Tonga and Fiji at about 9 a.m. local time (on September 30), and the eastern coast of New Zealand's North Island about 9:45 a.m. local time; it is currently 9:30 a.m. in Fiji and 10:30 in New Zealand.

There are no ships currently in the South Pacific or New Zealand. However, P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn is en route to the South Pacific's Vanuatu from Sydney, Australia. A P&O Australia spokesperson told Cruise Critic there were no changes yet to report.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a tsunami watch was also issued for Hawaii, but has already been canceled. However, a tsunami advisory remains in effect; an advisory means that watches and warnings are still active for other areas in the same ocean -- in this case, islands of the South Pacific and New Zealand.

Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line both have ships in Hawaii at this time. A spokeswoman for Princess tells us that the line is "monitoring the tsunami threat closely to understand its impact on Hawaii and if/how it will impact our ships currently in the region. Once more is uncovered, we'll keep you posted." A spokeswoman for NCL tells us that the line is also closely monitoring the situation and that, at this point, Pride of America's itinerary has not been impacted. "We are told that Hawaii will issue a weather update at 7:30 p.m. EDT."

Stay tuned.

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor, and Dan Askin, Associate Editor