Update: Cruise Impact Following the Massive Japan Earthquake

March 12, 2011
Update, 8:30 p.m.: Cunard's Queen Mary 2 is currently in Japanese waters en route to Nagasaki where she was due to berth today, March 12. As a result of the earthquake, all ports in Japan are now closed, and so Queen Mary 2 will proceed to her next scheduled port, Xingang, in China. Azamara Quest will be unable to call on Osaka on March 12, and will spend the day at sea.

(2 p.m. EST) -- The devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan has triggered tsunami warnings from Russia to the U.S. West Coast. But while cruise ships in the Pacific are on high alert, little impact has been reported.

Japan & the Far East
Azamara Quest, which was docked in Nagasaki, was reportedly unaffected by the massive quake and ensuing tsunami. Nagasaki is several hundred miles from the earthquake's epicenter, off the east coast of Japan's Honshu Island.

Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean, told Cruise Critic that Quest has now departed the island, noting that "no Royal Caribbean, Celebrity or Azamara ships have been directly affected by the earthquake, or by the subsequent tsunamis. Currently, we have not made any modifications to itineraries that include Japan, but will continue to monitor the situation." She reports that all crew and passengers are "safe and sound." Quest is currently scheduled to call in Osaka on Sunday.

Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 is expected in Nagasaki tomorrow. On its Facebook page, the line posted that "Queen Mary 2 is en route to Nagasaki, and all guests and crew onboard are safe. The ship has limited internet access due to Japanese laws." A statement from the cruise line further stated that it is "extremely unlikely that the ship will be affected in any way by the earthquake or its aftershocks."

Also posting an update on its Facebook page was British line P&O Cruises, which said the quake had no impact on its operations. P&O has three ships currently sailing various parts of the Pacific -- Arcadia, Aurora and Artemis -- but all are hundreds or thousands of miles from the epicenter.

Oceania Cruises' Nautica is scheduled to visit Japan next week. Spokesman Tim Rubacky told us that the line's "ground operator has reported that there will be no impact at any of our calls in Japan." Nautica's upcoming Japan calls include Hiroshima (March 18), Kobe (March 19, 20) and Okinawa (March 22).

According to Lanie Fagan, a spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 25 cruise lines, there's a reason for the minimal cruise impact. Fagan told the Associated Press that "because a tsunami causes a rise in the height of the sea, a ship at sea is one of the safest places to be. It is when a tsunami approaches the coast that it causes damages as the wave builds in height and causes widespread flooding."

Nearly 4,000 miles east of Japan, the first waves swept through the Hawaiian Islands earlier today. According to the Associated Press, "water rushed ashore in Honolulu, swamping the beach in Waikiki and surging over the break wall in the world-famous resort but stopping short of the area's high-rise hotels." A scientist at the tsunami warning center told the AP that the waves were unlikely to cause major damage. In Honolulu, all harbors are closed and vessels were being ordered to leave the harbor.

A statement from NCL said that Pride of America left Nawiliwili, Kauai at approximately 1 a.m. local time and is currently at sea where conditions are safe for the vessel. Once the warning is lifted and the port re-opens, the ship is expected to return to Nawiliwili today. The statement added that Pride of America will return to Honolulu on Saturday, March 12, and the next cruise will sail as scheduled.

Holland America's Rotterdam is also in Hawaii. Spokesman Erik Elvejord has confirmed that the line is not planning any itinerary changes, and that no ships have been impacted.

California & Mexico
The Los Angeles Times reported that beaches in Southern California have been closed in anticipation of small waves from the quake, which are expected to arrive between 11 and 11:30 a.m. EST. We've reached out to lines, including Carnival, Disney, Princess and NCL, with ships scheduled to dock in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Disney Cruise Line spokeswoman Lauren Falcone said, "Since the port of Cabo San Lucas was closed to cruise ships today, the Disney Wonder will remain at sea and plans to return to the Port of Los Angeles on Sunday as scheduled." Disney Wonder was the only cruise ship scheduled to call in Cabo today.

According to the statement from NCL, Norwegian Star will arrive in Los Angeles tomorrow and the next cruise will sail as scheduled on Saturday, March 12.

Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said, "All Carnival ships are fine with no impact expected, including our three California-based vessels, although we are keeping a close eye on the situation as a precautionary measure. No itinerary changes are anticipated."

Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy told us that none of the lines ships are ships considered at risk from any tsunami activity. "We will be assessing the tourism infrastructure in Japanese ports for our scheduled calls later this month," she added.

--by Dan Askin, News Editor and Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer