Hawaii Volcano: NCL to Resume Kona Calls; Moderate Activity Continues

Kilauea volcano Hawaii
M. Patrick/U.S. Geological Survey via AP/Newscred

In its most recent statement, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) said "moderate-level" volcanic activity on a small portion of Hawaii Island continues to be monitored and it is still no reason to cancel a Hawaii vacation. 

None of the Hawaiian Islands are affected by Kilauea volcano except a remote area along the Lower East Rift Zone on Hawaii Island's east side, Kilauea Summit and surrounding areas, according to the HTA. 

And as it's done in recent weeks, the HTA again reiterated that a vacation to Hawaii Island is still completely safe.

"There is absolutely no reason for visitors planning a trip to [Hawaii Island], or the rest of the state, to change or alter their leisure or business travel plans," according to the HTA. 

Cruise

According to the HTA, Norwegian Cruise LinesPride of America will make its call into Kona on Wednesday, May 30, but the ship will skip its call into Hilo on Tuesday, May 29.

Accommodations and Activities

According to the HTA, all accommodations, activities and attractions on Hawaii Island are operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the volcanic activity.

The HTA recommended that visitors who have already booked a trip to Hawaii Island with accommodations or activities in or near the Puna district, should call their provider with any questions or concerns. Effective since May 12, those who have vacation rental reservations in the Lower Puna restricted area are asked to find alternative accommodations, until further notice, according to the HTA.

Flight News

All airports on the island of Hawaii continue to operate normally, according to the HTA.

Hawaiian Airlines recently announced that effective immediately, guests holding tickets for travel on Hawaiian Airlines flights to/from Hilo, Hawaii (ITO) or Kona, Hawaii (KOA) between May 3 and May 31 will be permitted a one-time reservation change with waiver of change fee provided that the ticket was issued on/before May 4 and the affected flight(s) is/are originally scheduled for travel on May 3 through May 31. Also, changes must be ticketed for new flights no later than June 7 and travel must also commence no later than June 7.

In addition, for changes made to new flights on or before June 7, any resulting difference in fare(s) will be waived provided that change is made to the same compartment (i.e. Coach to Coach or First Class to First Class) and there is no change in origin and destination. For changes made to new flights after June 7, the change fee will be waived but applicable difference in fare will be collected.

United Airlines announced that change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between May 16  and May 25 as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

For wholly rescheduled travel departing after May 25, or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel must be completed within one year from the date when the ticket was issued.

Delta is issuing flight waiver for guest with tickets for flights departing between May 7 and May 25. Tickets must be reissued on or before May 28. Rebooked travel must begin no later than May 28. 

American Airlines recently announced that a change fee may be waived for guests traveling on either an American or Hawaiian Airlines flight. The waiver applies to guests who bought their ticket by May 5 for travel from May 5 to May 28. 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

According to a statement issued by the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as of May 23, the Kahuku Unit of the Park, located about an hour’s drive south of the park’s main entrance, is now open to visitors five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. 

Additionally, National Park Rangers are available at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in Downtown Hilo from Tuesday through Saturday to present educational programs and provide updates.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park emergency managers are urging motorists to slow down and use caution on Highway 11, particularly between mile markers 28 and 29, and Pii Mauna Road, due to cracks in the road and uneven surfaces resulting from an earthquake that occurred on May 16. In addition, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials are reminding motorists that stopping for non-emergency purposes along the side and shoulders of Highway 11 in Park territory to view the plumes is prohibited. 

What is Laze and Vog?

Since the volcanic activity began on May 3, terms like vog and laze have been thrown around by consumers and scientists alike.

Here’s what they mean. 

Over the weekend, the lava, flowing downhill, reached the ocean, generating laze, which is short for lava haze. It is a byproduct of lava-ocean interaction and forms as hot lava boils seawater to dryness. The result is a localized white plume of condensed seawater steam, hydrochloric acid gas, and tiny particles of glass at the coastal entry site, according to the HTA.  

“Laze is being misconstrued,” said Wendy Stovall, deputy scientist-in-charge for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory’s Volcano Hazards Program, in a written statement. “It's the same plume that happened in the Puuoo event, and little attention was paid to it at that time. It impacts the area just in the immediate area of the plume, very localized. It's not going to travel around the island, float to other areas. Not a reason for people to cancel their trips."

Vog is volcanic smog that reaches different areas of the island depending on wind direction, according to the HTA. Vog is relatively common on an island with active volcanoes and the level of haze is dependent on volcanic activity, as well as the direction and strength of the wind, according to the HTA. 

Air Quality

Air quality on the Hawaii Island remains largely unchanged with the exception of where the volcanic activity is happening can have hazardous levels of SO2 (sulfur dioxide), according to the HTA. Officials constantly monitor SO2 levels across the island, according to the HTA. 

Visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

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