Christchurch Port Closed for Remainder of Cruise Season Following New Zealand Earthquake

March 1, 2011

Lyttleton, New Zealand, site of February 22 earthquake

(10:35 a.m. EST) --- Lyttelton, the port for Christchurch, New Zealand, will not be able to receive cruise passengers for the remainder of the season following last week's severe earthquake, according to an announcement on the facility's Web site. “Auxiliary services and the Christchurch infrastructure associated with cruise have been severely compromised due to the earthquake,” said chief executive Peter Davie in a statement. “The fact that we are still having a number of aftershocks places the personal safety of cruise passengers at risk.” A week after the disaster, the daily updates on the Tourism New Zealand Web site continue to advise that all but non-essential travel to Christchurch should be avoided as rescue and recovery work goes on in the devastated city center. The central business district remains cordoned off and power, telecommunications and essential services continue to be disrupted as aftershocks continue. As such, two more cruise lines have announced itinerary changes. P&O Cruises' Aurora, which was due on Monday, March 7, will now call on Tauranga on Wednesday, March 9. The order of the itinerary has been changed, but the ship will still visit Dunedin , Wellington, Napier and Auckland. Holland America Line's Volendam, meanwhile, will call at nearby Akoroa instead of Lyttelton on March 5. Akoroa was unaffected by the earthquake and although passengers have to be ferried ashore by tender there, looks likely to become the default for Lyttelton, as it allows access to all the same local attractions. According to Tourism New Zealand's updates on the situation, all the main roads in the area are operating normally. Ships due to call at Lyttelton between now and April, when the season ends, include, in addition to Volendam and Aurora, Dawn Princess, Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas, Saga Ruby and P&O Cruises Australia's Pacific Pearl. --by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor Discuss this story.