An American maritime lawyer says he has been contacted by a family about legal options involving the cruise line they were travelling on when the White Island eruption happened.

Cruise ship passengers affected by the Whakaari/White Island eruption could be entitled to millions of dollars in damages, under maritime law, prominent US Maritime lawyer Jim Walker said.

Walker said he had been contacted by an American family wanting to know their options.

"We've had one family contact us," he said.

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"We're typically consulted when there's been some kind of mass casualty involving a shore excursion."

He said cruise lines based in Miami can be sued for mishaps that happen during shore excursions.

It did not matter where the accident happened, where the guest lived or what their nationality was, he said.

Of the 47 people who were on or near the volcano when it erupted, 38 were from the Ovation of the Seas cruise ship, operated by Royal Caribbean.

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