A New Zealand scientist is looking at whether it's possible to reinforce the wharf in the harbour of Samoa's capital, Apia.
Dr Shaw Mead says surge conditions were identified as a problem 40 years ago and the advice at that time was to move the harbour 10 kilometres down the coast.
He says the conditions can make it too dangerous to offload tourists from cruise ships and his job is to see whether there's a structural solution to the problem in the existing harbour.
Dr Mead says Apia harbour has what he describes as a bad infra-gravity wave problem.
"Which means that in our Summer in the northern hemisphere winter the big storms up in the north Pacific generate long period waves so they're very energetic swells and they come down into the harbour and they penetrate in the harbour and they actually rather than like a single wave at a time the wave groups make a lot of surging in and out of the harbour."
Dr Shaw Mead says the authorities are also considering building a new wharf in Apia harbour.