A BATHURST couple, travelling on the Ovation of the Seas, said passengers and crew on the ship are shell-shocked following news that five people were killed and others still are missing, after a volcano erupted during a day trip from the ship to White Island.
Meg and Brook Lynch were on the ship celebrating Meg's 50th birthday, and luckily for them went to Hells Gates thermal springs at Rotorua, rather than White Island, where disaster struck.
Another Bathurst woman, 68, originally feared missing in the disaster, has been located safe and well.
Those killed were among passengers cruising on the Royal Caribbean ship, which left Sydney on December 4. The victims had signed up for a day trip to White Island, also known as Whakaari, which erupted on Monday afternoon.
Mr Lynch said he and Meg were returning from a tour to Hell's Gate and lske Rotorua when they "noticed something had happened."
"When we boarded we were told by others something had happened on White Island to one of our tours.
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"We then saw it all over the news and the captain announced that passengers and crew were in the island when it erupted and they were working with authorities to assist," he said.
He said news of the disaster had obviously rattled everyone.
"It was very quiet last night [on the ship].
"Everyone is quite somber and shocked," he said.
Mr Lynch said the staff on the ship had been excellent in the face of the tragedy.
"Counselling has been offered and the crew are with the families affected. We presume their families will be arriving or have already," he said.
Mr Lynch said Royal Caribbean have yet to confirm how, or if, the ship will continue on.
"The captain announced we are staying in port today and will announce what they plan to do about 6pm New Zealand time," he said.
"We wouldn't be surprised if we returned to Australia and to be honest it may be more fitting than continuing under these circumstances."
He said they are thankful they chose to go to Rotorua for the day.
"We are on the trip to tick a few things off the bucket list. We're just really lucky seeing a volcano was not on the list," he said.