How the Next Jihadist Terror Attack Against Cruise Passengers Will Happen

USS Cole AttackFor the past couple of years I've been troubled by the increasing violence in North Africa and the Middle East and the unprecedented nature of the cruelty of jihadist terrorists who have beheaded and burned "infidels" alive. I have worried about various scenarios where cruise passengers are at risk of attack.

We already know that al Qaeda has planned to seize cruise ships and execute passengers.

 Our readers have sent us various scenarios of how cruise passengers are at risk on the high seas and in ports of call. 

A terrorist fires a RPG into a cruise ship: Libya is awash in weapons after Colonel Muammar Gadaffi was killed and lost control of the country. Automatic weapons, rocket propelled grenades (RPG's), mortars, bazookas, and anti-aircraft guns have fallen into the hands of violent religious fanatics. The two Tunisian terrorists killed during the attack on Costa and MSC cruise passengers were trained in Libya. ISIS and Al Qaeda, of course, have access to weapons, including RPG's, throughout the Middle East.

Think it's far fetched? Think again. Al Qaeda has already used this weapon to attack tankers in the Middle East. In the video below, you can see the terrorists fire their weapons, yell Allah Akbar ("God is Great") and run off into the bushes. Cruise ships are easy targets, over three football fields long and 15 stories high, moving at only a few knots an hours while entering and leaving ports. A RPG would slice though the aluminum hull like butter and cause fire, damage, injuries and death. They're sitting ducks without military escorts. 

A USS Cole-style kamikaze attack on a cruise ship:  Remember the U.S.S. Cole? 17 service men USS Cole Attackand women were murdered when suicide bombers rammed their speed boat loaded with explosives into the U.S. navy ship. Such an attack during a fueling operation while a fuel barge is alongside a cruise ship would result in a tremendous explosion with many hundreds of deaths.

Blowing up a tour excursion bus:There have been many tour buses filled with tourists which terrorists have attacked over the years. A bus with Korean tourists was exploded in Egypt last year. The saying "safety in numbers" doesn't apply to cruise passengers; its more likely to make you a target when you come off of a cruise ship and board a bus with fifty other passengers. You can see what a terrorist attack on a bus looks like in the video below.

Al Qaeda embeds themselves as crew members or passengers: After 9/11 and the attack on the twin towers, my office received a call from an agitated U.S. crew member (a musician). He was upset that other crew members on a U.S based cruise ship which sailed into Miami were literally cheering while watching televised images of the death and destruction. Some cruise lines boast that their crew come from 60 different countries. This may well be an asset in most circumstances but it underscores the fact that the crew members have loyalties to other countries and other causes than those shared by U.S. Tourist Bus Attackpassengers.

A reader of my recent article for Yahoo Travel titled Is Cruising Safe? A Chilling Look at an Industry Under Siege offered this scenario:

". . . This isn't about the ports and the safety of them. A terrorist could be among you at the buffet, laying by the pool, playing slots, drinking at the bar … they lay in wait. They're completely legitimate looking like one of us. 50 of them could board a ship as a passenger with a clean record. They've been trained in other countries. They've lived in the countries they're in for years and they lay in wait anticipating their marching orders. Then three days into the cruise, they take over the ship and start killing passengers . . . And that's how it'll go down."

The cruise industry needs to wake up. Tunis was preventable. Greater attention to Al Qaeda and ISIS is necessary to avoid a similar if not worse attack on innocent passengers. Dangerous ports need to be avoided. In the past, Princess Cruises used security teams / police to accompany tour bus excursions in Egypt. Maritime security teams are also required in foreign ports of call to address the risk of waterborne attacks. Cruise lines are overflowing with cash. The cruise industry collects around $40 billion a year, pay their crew members peanuts and doesn't pay U.S. taxes. The industry needs to start investing some of those tens of millions of dollars into substantial security to keep their guests safe. 

Have a comment? Please leave on below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: USS Cole diagram - Reuters; bus explosion - AP via Yahoo Travel 

Nile River Cruise Fire Worse Than Reported

King of the Nile FireTen days ago we reported on a fire which occurred aboard a small cruise ship / river cruise called the King of the Nile. The reports out of Egypt were that none of the passengers or crew members were injured.

But the popular cruise blog Noticias de Cruceros reported passenger accounts suggesting that the fire was far worse than reported and may have caused injuries and fatalities.

You can read the article here.

The article and the Noticias de Cruceros Facebook page contain photographs which show extreme fire and smoke conditions and include images of people jumping from an upper deck to escape the blaze.

We have posted eight images of the fire, courtesy of the Noticias de Cruceros website, at our Facebook page. Click here to review the photos.

Cruise lines, travel companies and tourism bureaus often down-play fires and casualties like this to avoid scaring off customers and disrupting tourism.  Fortunately, there are websites like Noticias de Cruceros which will publish photos like this so that the cruising public can make up its own mind about the dangers of some types of travel and vacation advertisements. Do you trust cruise, travel and tourism representatives to tell you the whole story?  Join the discussion of our Facebook page

King of the Nile Fire

 

King of the Nile Fire

Another Nile River Cruise Ship Catches on Fire

Nile Festival Cruise Ship FireA newspaper in Egypt is reporting that a Nile river cruise ship burst into flames near the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan today. None of the 84 passengers or 79 crew member were reportedly injured. 

The river cruise ship is the MS Nile Festival, which reportedly is operated by a UK based company. It A short-circuit in the ship's kitchen reportedly sparked the fire.

The tourists were visiting the temple of the ancient Egyptian site of Edfu when the fire occurred.

We have reported on other fires and catastrophes on river cruise ships in Egypt. 

In January of this year, a cruise ship carrying 112 Egyptian passengers sank in the Nile River after striking large rocks. The incident took place near the Egyptian cities of Kom Ombo and Aswan. The sinking vessel was called the King of the Nile.

Last November, a similar fire occurred aboard an Egyptian cruise ship between Luxor and Esna in Upper Egypt, forcing the evacuation of 77 tourists. This fire was also caused by a short circuit.

Cruise Ship Sinks in Egypt

King of the Nile Cruise Ship Sinking News sources in the Middle East are reporting that a cruise ship carrying 112 Egyptian passengers sank in the Nile River yesterday evening after striking large rocks. The Al-Ahram's news website report that the incident took place near the Egyptian cities of Kom Ombo and Aswan.

Reports are that all passengers safely disembarked the sinking vessel which is called the King of the Nile.

In November of last year, we reported on another cruise ship which caught on fire on the Nile.  77 tourists were aboard but got off safely.

You can read the article Fire Breaks Out During Cruise Down the Nile

Please contact us if you have any information or photos of this latest incident.

 

Photo credit: Ahram Arabic News Website

Fire Breaks Out During Cruise Down the Nile

Nile River FireA number of news outlets are reporting that a fire broke out aboard an Egyptian cruise ship, which caused the evacuation of 77 tourists during a cruise on the Nile River.

The fire reportedly occurred due to a short circuit near the stern of the cruise ship as it sailed between Luxor and Esna in southern Egypt.

Some of the tourists refused to get back on the cruise ship after the fire.

The news is rather skimpy at this point.  If you have additional information or photos please leave a comment below.

Mideast Violence Is Reminder of Vulnerability of U.S. Based Cruise Ships

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 Ship Terrorism - Achille LauraCruise 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

Over 1200 Passengers Rescued from Burning Ferry in the Red Sea, One Dead & Many Injured

A fire broke out yesterday aboard an Egyptian bound ferry, the Pella, in the Gulf of Aqaba, which is the northeastern tip of the Red Sea.

There were approximately 1240 passengers aboard the cruise ferry at the time of the fire.  The ferry was ten miles off of the coast of Jordan.  A number of military vessels and helicopters responded to the emergency.  There are conflicting news accounts whether the rescue operations were conducted solely by Jordan or a combination of Jordanian and Egyptian vessels.  

One passenger died.  All other passengers were rescued and various news sources are reporting between twelve and twenty-five passengers were hospitalized for smoke inhalation injuries. 

The Pella is owned by the Al-Jisr Al-Arabi company, which is described as a shipping company owned by Egyptian and Jordanian businessmen.

The AP reports that in February 2006, about 1,000 passengers, mostly Egyptian workers returning home from Saudi Arabia, died when a fire broke out on a ferry. 

Pella Fire - Egypt - Cruise Fire

Photo credit: Abraham Farajyan / EPA (via MSNBC photoblog)

For aditional information about cruise ship fires, consider reading:

Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

Passenger Disappears from Cruise Ship in Red Sea

A local newspaper in the U.K. is reporting that a 63 year old passenger is missing from a cruise ship in the Red Sea. 

The MK News in Milton Keyes is reporting this morning that John Halford, age 63, from Greenleys in Milton Keynes, left the airport in Luton on Thursday March 31st for a cruise aboard the Thomson Cruise Line.  The cruise finished in Sharm al-Shaykh in Egypt on Thursday April 7th, when he was found to not be on board. 

John Halford - Missing - Thompson Cruises - EgyptSharm al-Shaykh is a city situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on the coastal strip along the Red Sea.

The newspaper reports that it is believed that Mr. Halford went missing sometime between 11.45 p.m. on Wednesday April 6th and 7.30 a.m. on Thursday April 7th.

People who were on the cruise, or know where he might be, are asked to contact Thames Valley Police via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre 0845 8 505 505. 

There have been over 150 passengers and crew members who have gone missing from cruise ships in the last decade. 

The cruise industry trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), states that it does not keep statistics of people missing from the 25 cruise lines which are members of CLIA.  The most definitive source of cruise disappearances is found in cruise expert Professor Ross Klein's website.   

 

Photo credit:  MK News 

Costa Europa Collides With Pier in Egypt - Three Crew Dead, Passengers Injured

Newspapers are reporting that the Costa Europa cruise ship collided with a pier in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt yesterday.  The collision ripped a hole in the hull of the ship and flooded a crew cabin, resulting in the death of three crew member who, unidentified, are described as "an Indian, a Honduran and a Brazilian."  (Technically speaking, when a vessel strikes a pier, it is called an "allision" - "collisions" occur between vessels). 

Costa Europa Collision - Egypt - Passenger and Crew Injury and DeathFour other people were injured.  Some reports indicate that another crewmember and three British women passengers were injured.  Other newspapers say that four passengers were injured. 

Pursuant to the terms of the passenger's cruise tickets, if the passengers need to make a claim for medical expneses and compensation, they are required to make their claim in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Cruise line officials are quoted as saying that "strong winds" pushed the cruise into a pier as it tried to dock at the port.

It seems that every time a cruise ship hits a dock, the cruise lines blame it on the wind as opposed to poor seamanship at the helm.   

The cruise ship was sailing on an 18-day cruise from Dubai to Savona.

The photographs of the Costa Europe show the vessel listing heavily on its port side, in order to keep water ouring into the large opening on the starboard side. 

A photograph of the extensive damage to the crew quarters in shown is an article in the U.K. Sun newspaperCosta Europa - Damage to Crew Cabin - Collision

The passengers were disembarked, and Costa Crociere is arranging for them to be flown back to their countries of origin.

 

Credits:

 

Costa Europa  cruise ship -  AP (Hussien Talal) via Mail Online

Damage to crew cabin of  Costa Europa - U.K. Sun Newspaper