The death toll for the terrorist attack in Tunis, Tunisa on Wednesday rises now to 23 (as of March 19, 2015) and leaves more than 50 people wounded after ISIS militants raided the National Bardo Museum in Tunisa’s capital city. Almost all of those killed in the attack were tourists, including 15 cruise passengers who were visiting the city while ships were in port. Twenty one cruise passengers were wounded; four of them remain in critical condition and two cruise ship passengers remain unaccounted for.
The two cruise ships in port in La Goulette, Tunisia at the time of the attack were The MSC SPLEDIDA and the COSTA FASCINOSA. Based on our own research, passengers aboard the SPLENDIDA were on a 7-night Mediterranean cruise with stops at ports in France, Italy, Barcelona and Tunisia.
Tunisia is a small country along the northern coast of Africa, sandwiched between Algeria and Libya. Tourism in Tunisia, which suffered after Tunisians overthrew their dictator in 2011, had just recently begun to recover. While violence on this scale is new to Tunisia, the country’s new government has contributed to an uptick in economic problems and extremism. Which leads us to the question: should cruise lines have Tunisia on their itineraries? And an even bigger question: what can future cruise passengers learn from this tragedy to protect themselves and loved ones?
While up until now, Tunisia has been a relatively quite country, it is in the heart of North Africa and is surrounded by Middle Eastern countries which have been in turmoil for years. The U.S. State Department issued a warning about travel to North Africa in general in January 2015 and there are current travel advisories for both of Tunisia’s bordering countries. Additionally, which should come as no surprise, there are travel advisories against almost every country in the Middle East. With so much surrounding turmoil, was it the best decision for Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises to drop anchor and unload thousands of tourists into such an unstable area? Since the attack, both cruise lines have cancelled all future visits to Tunisia.
The big lesson for future cruise passengers is this – protect yourself. Do your own research! The U.S. State Department issues travel warnings and alerts. You can read all of them on its website and even sign up to receive travel warnings emailed to you about your trip. You can also visit the website for the U.S. Embassy or Consult of the country/countries you are visiting for even more detailed travel advisories. We strongly urge you to do your own research before booking your next cruise and prior to embarkation. Please don’t assume that the cruise lines have vetted all the risks for you.
Our deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and wounded in this terrible tragedy.
(Featured Image Courtesy: NBC News)