Ovation of the Seas Passengers and Crew Missing After New Zealand Volcano Erupts

Dec 09, 2019

A horrible tragedy occurred today when guests sailing on the cruise ship Ovation of the Seas visited New Zealand's most active volcano Whakaari on White Island. Tourists have been caught up in the eruption of the volcano resulting in at least five deaths, and 27 people missing report news outlets in New Zealand. There are many people who have been taken to hospital with burns as a result of the eruption. 

Tourists were present at the crater shortly before the volcano exploded blasting an ash plume that rose 12,000 meters in the air covering the entire island.

Ovation of the Seas captain announced that a group of guests and one crew member was on the island at the time of the eruption and had not returned to the cruise ship.

In an announcement on the PA system made onboard the Ovation of the Seas, the captain said: "At the moment our priority is to ensure that every single one of our guests and crew is accounted for."

According to 7news, the captain said the ship was waiting for solid information from the New Zealand Government and also confirmed there were passengers and staff on the island at the time of the eruption.

"We kindly ask that you keep the guests and crew and their families in your thoughts and prayers."

The ship was scheduled to sail on Wednesday evening but will remain in the Port of Tauranga as long as necessary.

 “A terrible tragedy is unfolding in NZ after the volcano eruption on Whakaari/White Island. Australians have been caught up in this terrible event and we are working to determine their wellbeing.” Said Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In a news conference, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that both New Zealanders and foreign tourists were on or around the island in the Bay of Plenty at the time of the volcano eruption.

Royal Caribbean issued a statement that reads "We are devastated by today's events and our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragedy. We are working together with local authorities, and we are providing all the help and care we can to our guests and their families, including offering medical resources and counseling. 

We are also sending staff members from both our ship and our Sydney and Auckland offices to assist family members however possible. Ovation of the Seas will remain in port as long as needed to assist with the situation."

The latest news from New Zealand police comes as a shock for many as the authorities said that they did not believe there were any survivors after the eruption.

New Zealand Police Officials said in a statement that after reconnaissance flights over the island, “no signs of life had been seen at any point”. New Zealand police deputy commissioner John Timms said that after consulting with volcano experts the rescue crews have still not been able to conduct a physical search on the island.

 “Police believe that anyone who could have been taken from the island alive was rescued at the time of the evacuation,” a statement said.

“Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island.”

Update: Royal Caribbean has issued a new statement saying:

"The news from White Island is devastating. The details that are emerging are heartbreaking.

We are working to help our guests and the authorities in the aftermath of this tragedy in any way we can.

We are communicating with our guests and their families. We’re making sure they are taken care of in terms of medical help, counseling, accommodations, and transport. Our hearts go out to them, and we want to be as supportive as we can.

Staff from our Sydney and Auckland offices office are already onsite, and we’re going to be offering all our resources while this terrible tragedy sorts out.

We are grateful for the work of all the first responders and medical personnel. We also thank the prime minister and her team, the local authorities and everyone who has reached out to help with their kind thoughts and prayers."