Earthquake Update: More Cruise Ship Port Calls Impacted in New Zealand; Readers Report From Scene

February 24, 2011
Lyttleton, New Zealand, site of February 22 earthquake (Updated February 24, 5 p.m. EST) -- More cruise ships are being diverted due to Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. At the same time, Cruise Critic readers are sending in firsthand reports from the city, where aftershocks are still being felt in the wake of the earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale. Some 80 percent of the city's residents are without fresh water, according to the BBC Web site, while 75 have been confirmed dead and many others reported missing Lyttelton Port of Christchurch, where cruise and container ships dock, has sustained some damage, including cracking to the wharf where passenger ships dock. However, a statement on the port's Web site from chief executive Peter Davie says the facility should be partly up and running in the next day or so. He adds: “Our clear focus is on ensuring that fuel and essential services will get through to Christchurch.” Here's what we know so far about rescheduled calls for the next 10 days: Pacific Sun, due on Friday, will now call at Akaroa, a 90-minute drive from Christchurch. A P&O Cruises Australia spokeswoman told Cruise Critic: “This decision has been supported by New Zealand's tourism authorities, who said that now, more than ever, they needed people to keep coming and support their communities.” Akaroa is a small settlement where ships can anchor and ferry passengers ashore by tender to all the same spots they'd normally access from Lyttelton. Queen Mary 2, at sea en route from Sydney and due on Saturday, will now call at Wellington. Cruise Critic member Dancer11, who is blogging from the ship's World Cruise, confirms the news: “Announcement was made after all passengers were back on board in Sydney. Given the terrible situation in Christchurch, we will go to Wellington instead, then proceed on schedule to Auckland. These two ports are in the north island, not affected by the earthquake.” Sun Princess, due on Monday, February 28, will now extend its stay in Wellington on February 27; on the morning of February 28, it will visit Marlborough Sound for three hours of scenic cruising. Dawn Princess' call, due on Friday, March 4, has not yet been rescheduled. A Princess Cruises spokesperson says the line is monitoring the situation. We're waiting to hear about any changes for Holland America Line's Volendam, expected on March 5. P&O Cruises' Aurora is due on March 7 at Lyttelton; a line spokesman told us Thursday that the call has been canceled, but no decision has been made about an alternative stop. Meanwhile, Cruise Critic readers in Australia and New Zealand are discussing the disaster on the forums. Kiwigirl1972 has posted a harrowing report from Christchurch itself: “I was at home for lunch when this occurred and I stood in the doorway crying as everything crashed down around me and I watched my street quickly flood with liquification [flowing mud caused by the earthquake]. I am with friends right now as no power or water at home. I don't know if I know anyone killed or missing at this stage but, as this is a small community, it's likely I will.” Member Mr jamms, who lives in Wellington, comments as well: “The airport has reopened now but I'd advise against coming to spend time in the city for a few of weeks at least. There is no water or sewerage in most of the city.” We'll keep you updated as the situation unfolds.

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor Discuss this story.