On May 4th, 2018, two earthquakes hit Hawaii island, coinciding with lava outbreaks from the nearby Kīlauea Volcano – one of the most active volcanos in the world. The events have caused choas across the island, causing over 2,000 people to leave their homes and evacuate the area. So far, there have been no reports of fatalities or serious injuries.

We spoke to Intercruises’ Julie Smith, who was onboard the Celebrity Solstice docked in Hilo at the time the earthquakes hit…

“The Intercruises team was just me in Hilo; there was one other onboard the Radiance of the Seas in another port, however there was no impact on their operation that day.  Of course, due to the events the Radiance decided to re-route their call to Hilo that was scheduled three days later.

The first of the two earthquakes was only 5.4. on the richter scale. The second one was bigger (6.9 magnitude!), and lasted over 40 seconds, which is a long time to be shaking. Both of them were centered right next to the Kilauea Volcano on the SW Flank – about 20 miles from the pier. It was a very weird feeling to be on a ship during an earthquake, not a normal motion for the ship at all!

During each of the earthquakes, gangway operations were shut down and were removed for safety. Once the movement stopped full checks were done by the bridge team to confirm the vessel was still safely secured.  After a few minutes (while they confirmed that there would be no aftershock), the gangway was reconnected and operations continued. 

That was the last call for the Solstice in Hawaii, so I later had to drive across the island to meet up with the Radiance of the Seas on the other side.  No roads were shut down which was nice, but there was heavy fog generated from the volcano around the mountain, making the air dangerous to breath; we even receievd a mobile warning due to the toxic levels of sulfur dioxide.

I’m beginning to think Hilo has it out for me. So far, I’ve survived two separate tsunamis and a volcanic eruption – the latter bringing the threat of acid rain and two earthquakes with it!”

Well done to Julie and everyone there for braving these undoubtedly frightening events!