On March 18, 20 foreign tourists were killed, along with a Tunisian police officer, in a terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis. Sadly, the tourists were guests of either MSC Cruises' MSC Splendida or Costa Cruises' Costa Fascinosa, all on a shore excursion to the museum, which is known for its collection of Roman and Islamic artifacts. Other passengers of the lines remain injured and hospitalized. Tunisia’s tourism industry, which had been rebounding following the turbulent 2011 Arab Spring, has suffered a terrible blow. One out of 10 Tunisians works in tourism, and last year, close to 7 million visitors entered the country.
Out of immediate concern for passenger safety, both Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises have suspended all future calls to Tunisia. Other major cruise lines, such as Holland America, Star Clippers, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, and Aida Cruises, have followed suit.
This latest attack, however, should not discourage you from booking a cruise vacation. Lines have the flexibility to adjust any itinerary and easily redirect ships in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as these. Costa Cruises, for example, has swapped their future calls in Tunis with visits to Malta, Barcelona, Tarragona, Spain, and Tripani, Italy.
As a precaution, you should always check the U.S. State Department’s Website for country-specific travel warnings and security concerns. Or, sign up for their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and have updates sent directly to you. This service also provides local embassies with your contact information, which is invaluable in case of an emergency. (For easy access on a mobile device, the State Department has a Smart Traveler app.) Twitter handles such as @CNNbrk and @BBCBreaking can also be a resource when it comes to breaking news.
Jacqueline Gifford is the Senior Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @jacquigiff.