A Kiwi woman injured in the Venice cruise boat crash has undergone surgery overnight to fix her broken shoulder.

Joy Milmine, 72, and her husband Colin, from Hamilton, will now cut their two-month European holiday short after just two weeks

The couple were on a riverboat cruise which had docked up, when the out-of-control cruise ship MSC Opera sailed straight into the dock, sending people running for their lives.

Joy fell backwards as the cruise liner rammed the much smaller River Countess riverboat on the Giudecca Canal - a major thoroughfare which leads to St Mark's Square in the Italian city - breaking her shoulder.

Advertisement

She was one of five people injured in the incident, including an American and two Australians aged between 67 and 72.

Joy has been recovering in hospital, where she underwent surgery overnight to place a rod in her shoulder to stabilise it, her daughter Bronwyn Hutching said.

"That was a success," she said of the surgical procedure.

Joy is in the same hospital ward with at least one other person injured in the cruise ship crash, an Australian women.

Her parents were doing ok, Hutching said, her dad was "coping as best as he can", and she was relieved they weren't more seriously injured.

"I'll be even more relieved when they get back to New Zealand," she said. "They've only been over there for probably two weeks, and it's not been a fun trip.

"They were hoping for a nice holiday."

No date had yet been set for their return to New Zealand, as Joy was still recovering in hospital, Hutching said, but hoped it would be soon.

Advertisement

She was surprised when she found out it was her mum who had been caught up in the cruise ship crash, she said.

"I actually missed her phone call. But it was a shock to find it was mum involved in it, it definitely was."

She added: "It's pretty traumatic for everyone."

Damage caused to the tourist riverboat when it was struck by the MSC Opera in Venice, injuring Kiwi woman Joy Milmine. Photo / AP
Damage caused to the tourist riverboat when it was struck by the MSC Opera in Venice, injuring Kiwi woman Joy Milmine. Photo / AP

"I'm coping the best I can, really. I've just got to carry on the best I can and just keep [getting] updates with dad ... but there's not a lot that I can do [from here]," she said.

The couple's three young grandchildren had been worried about them too, she said.

The cruise ship crash made headlines around the world, as videos showed the towering ship apparently unable to halt its momentum, blaring its horn as it ploughed into the much smaller riverboat and the dock as dozens of people run away in panic.

Venice is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, and the busy summer tourist season has already started.

Following the collision, Italian medical authorities said four of the people injured were women — an American, a New Zealander and two Australians between the ages of 67 and 72.

They were reportedly hurt as they fell or tried to run away when the cruise ship rammed into the River Countess.

The cruise ship's owner, MSC Cruises, said the ship, the MSC Opera, was about to dock at a passenger terminal in Venice when it had a mechanical problem.

Two towboats guiding the ship tried to stop it but they were unable to prevent it from ramming into the riverboat.

"The two towboats tried to stop the giant and then a tow cable broke, cut by the collision with the river boat," Davide Calderan, president of a towboat association in Venice, told the Italian news agency ANSA.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) yesterday said: "The New Zealand Embassy in Rome is providing consular assistance to a New Zealander involved in the cruise ship collision in Venice. For privacy reasons, no further information will be provided."