When Lauren Urey called her parents on Monday, the 32-year-old newlywed was excited.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship on which Lauren and her husband, Matthew, were spending their honeymoon had just docked in Tauranga, and the US couple had an action-packed day ahead of them.

"She said they were going to the volcano," Lauren's mother, Barbara Barham, told The Washington Post.

"My husband was joking around and said, 'I hope it's not a live volcano'."


Actually, Lauren responded, it is. The Ureys had plans to visit White Island, but Lauren and Matthew, 36, "weren't concerned that there was any chance of an eruption", Barham said.

The couple were rushed to a hospital with severe burn injuries, Barham said.

A number of visitors to the island during the eruption came from the Ureys' cruise ship, the Ovation of the Seas, which offered an excursion to the volcano. In a statement, New Zealand Cruise Association CEO Kevin O'Sullivan extended "heartfelt concern to the passengers and their families".

Barham told The Post that she and her husband, who live southeast of Richmond, Virginia, had no idea that chaos was unfolding halfway around the world — and that their daughter was involved.

Then, Barham said, she got a call from Royal Caribbean shortly after midnight asking whether she had heard from Lauren. The newlyweds hadn't returned to their cruise ship after the volcano tour and were missing.

Soon, Barham's phone was ringing again. It was Matthew's mother, and she had just received a distressing voicemail from him.

"Her son called and said that they had been on the excursion and there had been a volcano eruption and they were burned very bad," Barham said.

"He said he would try to call as soon as he could, but talking and making phone calls was difficult. His hands were so badly burned, it was hard for him to make a phone call."


In the voicemail, according to Barham, Matthew said he and Lauren, who also suffered similar injuries, had been taken to a hospital.

Newlyweds Lauren and Matthew Urey were visiting White Island. Photo / Supplied
Newlyweds Lauren and Matthew Urey were visiting White Island. Photo / Supplied

"Obviously, I'm panicking," she said. "I don't know how to act. I feel like I should be crying, but I can't even cry."

But as Barham tuned in to news coverage about the eruption, the shock began to give way to anger.

Experts had reported increased volcanic activity on the island weeks before Monday's incident.

"I'm just livid," she said. "There's been warnings about it ... My son-in-law never would have booked the excursion if he knew there was any chance of them being injured."

A hospital representative later called Barham while Lauren was in surgery. The new bride has severe burns on her lower extremities, covering at least 20 per cent of her body. She's recovering at an Auckland hospital.

Matthew was airlifted to a hospital in Christchurch for treatment of burns that cover about 80 per cent of his body, Barham said as she was preparing to fly out of Dulles International Airport on Monday night.

Matthew's mum is making arrangements to see her son by week's end, Barham said.