Last updated: 04:05 PM ET, Fri March 20 2015

More Cruise Lines Avoiding Tunisia After Attack

Impacting Travel | MSC Cruises | Theresa Norton | March 20, 2015

More Cruise Lines Avoiding Tunisia After Attack

More cruise companies cancelled calls to Tunisia as fears grew of a tourism backlash in the North African nation.

MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, which had passengers killed or injured in the museum attack, both suspended calls to Tunisian ports for the remainder of 2015.

Star Clippers replaced a call in Tunisia with Sicily on the April 8 voyage. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises cancelled an April 6 call at La Goulette, the port for the capital city of Tunis, replacing it with Syrakus, Sicily.

“The news of the attack in Tunisia has shaken us all at Hapag-Lloyd Cruises,” the company said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the families of the victims. For the call on Nov. 5, no actions are currently planned and we hope that the situation on the ground will have calmed down by then. We observe current events very closely with our local land agents and are in contact with them at all times.”

Holland America Line is in a wait-and-see mode regarding the Eurodam's scheduled April 21 call at La Goulette, as is sister company Princess Cruises, which said it was monitoring the situation.

“All of us at Holland America Line are deeply saddened by the senseless attack on tourists in Tunisia. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this tragic event,” the company said. “At this time, we have not made a final decision regarding future scheduled calls to Tunisia. If changes are made to future calls in Tunisia, booked guests and their travel agents will be notified.”

The March 18 attack at the Bardo National Museum will likely cause tourism to slow down, if not come to a screeching halt. The nation is popular, especially among Europeans, for its affordable beach vacations and Roman ruins. It’s a regular stop for cruise ships because of its location in the Mediterranean Sea, although it is tucked between Algeria and Libya.

“Sadly, the murderous actions of the people behind this devastating attack will have far-reaching and profoundly damaging effects on democratic Tunisia and its faltering economy,” said MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said. “Tunisia can little afford to be considered a no-go zone at this time, but regrettably that is how tourists will now see it.”

Tunis has long been featured on MSC Cruises itineraries, and has proven popular for its extensive range of cultural offerings, the company said.

“Tunis is a key destination for MSC Cruises, and we hope to be able to restore it to itineraries in due course,” Vago said. “But until we receive the necessary reassurances that the security situation has returned to normal, we have to take our guests to alternative Mediterranean destinations.”

Norwegian Cruise Line halted calls at La Goulette in March 2014, after Tunisia refused to let Israeli nationals disembark. Kevin Sheehan, then CEO of Norwegian, condemned what he called a “discriminatory act.”

Locals are dismayed that travelers are likely to bypass Tunisia.

In the museum during the attack, tour guide Wissal Bouzid told a French newspaper, “C’est fini la Tunisie, C’est fini le tourisme,” which means “That’s it for Tunisia, that’s it for tourism,” according to a story in Canada’s CBC News.

The news site also quoted French teacher Lorette Savaton as saying that Tunisia was being recognized “as this little beacon of hope in the Arab world [compared to fallen states in neighboring countries] and it’s gone now.” 


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