The disturbing trend of violence against the U.S. in places like Libya and Egypt is causing the cruise lines to scramble to swap out ports of call in North Africa for ports in Italy and Malta.
HAL's Ryndam skipped a port Tunisia yesterday and instead visited Sardinia, Italy. Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas will avoid Alexandria, Egypt next week and will call on Sicily and Valletta, Malta on the next two days. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth skipped a call today in Alexandria and will visit Rhodes tomorrow.
Cruise ships have long been considered likely targets for jihadist terrorists.
In April I blogged about a plot where Arab terrorists envisioned hijacking a U.S. based cruise ship, forcing the passengers to wear orange Guantanamo-like jump suits and then videotaping their execution.
There are numerous studies by security companies and U.S. governmental organizations which have studied terrorist organizations and concluded that terrorism against cruise ships is likely. Take a look at this report by the RAND organization.
The World Cruise Industry Review publication concluded that the most likely terrorist scenario is the hijacking of a cruise ship and its passengers: "A cruise ship is boarded and commandeered, while perpetrators hold and potentially injure or kill passengers if demands are not met – as in the Achille Lauro attack."
When I was a kid, my family lived in Tripoli Libya starting in 1965 until the 80's. The Libyan people back then (mostly Sunni Muslims) were peaceful. But today? Libya, Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco are the last places on earth I would sail my family to.
Cruise ships are simply not equipped to handle a terrorist attack. Cruise ship security can't even handle drunk passengers. And I would not trust the port authorities in these Arab countries to provide adequate protection against Islamic fanatics strapped with explosives who would love to blow up a cruise ship with Americans aboard.
Update: Join the discussion on our facebook page - most viewers don't have a high regard for the ability of cruise ship security guards to protect your family from al-Qaeda.
Newspaper credit: Sea Fever