As was expected by Cruise Arabia & Africa and no doubt feared by those in the tourism industry in Tunisia, major cruise lines have begun to drop all Tunisian port calls from their itineraries for the rest of the year, pending a review of the security situation in the country moving forward.
MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, the two cruise line’s whose passengers were involved in the tragic terror attacks at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, the capital, led the cruise industry’s decision, with both cruise line’s announcing late Thursday that none of their cruise ships would be visiting Tunisia for the rest of the year.
MSC Splendida, which lost 12 passengers in the terror attacks Wednesday, will call at Valetta, Malta, for the rest of the season, the cruise line has confirmed. MSC Fantasia will call at Palma, Mallorca; MSC Preziosa will call in at Cagliari, Sardinia; and MSC Divina will call at Valletta a day earlier and cruise directly to Corfu, Greece.
Costa Cruises, whose cruise ship Costa Fascinosa also had passengers caught up in the tragedy, has canceled all remaining 39 port calls to the country by six of its cruise ships, but has yet to confirm where the cruise ships will visit instead.
More cruise lines quickly followed suit throughout Thursday evening, with Hapag-Lloyd, Star Clippers and AIDA Cruises all confirming that they were dropping Tunisia as a cruise destination for the rest of 2015 amid heightened fears for passengers’ safety ashore.
Four other major cruise lines, P&O Cruises, Oceania, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, have cruise ships scheduled to visit Tunisia during the 2015 cruise season. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises told the cruise review website Cruise Critic that they are reviewing the security situation in the country.
Other cruise lines visiting the country this year include Pullmantur, Saga Cruises, Croisieres de France, Viking Cruises and Swan Hellenic. At the time of writing, none had cancelled port calls to Tunis, but the dropped calls by Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and AIDA alone represents a decrease in cruise tourism volume of around 300,000 and lost revenue in excess of US $31-million.
On Thursday, thousands of Tunisian lit candles and gathered outside the Bardo National Museum to show solidarity with the 17 tourists killed and the more than 20 injured in the attack. The terror attack occured Wednesday as tourists were arriving at the museum from MSC Splendida and Costa Fascinosa, gunmen opened fire on the busses and then stormed the museum, taking a group of cruise passengers and other tourists hostage.