A Greek newspaper is reporting that the MSC Fantasia has been subjected to a search for explosives today after calling on Haifa.
The MSC cruise ship arrived today in the Bay of Souda near Chania in Crete. A Greek newspaper in Athens "To Vima" reports that suspicious passengers or explosives may be on board the ship.
The MSC ship carries 3,393 passengers with a crew of 1,259 people. The ship was originally headed for the port of Heraklion. The Coast Guard and other authorities at the Souda naval base were reportedly notified.
The newspaper says that the MSC Captain advised the authorities that the ship was changing course because of the weather and that a passenger, apparently a German citizen, had died and needed to be autopsied to determine whether the passenger died from cardiac causes as suspected. However, the newspaper reports that the ship had already changed course for security reasons.
The article said that the recent terrorist attack in Istanbul by ISIS had raised an alert regarding terrorism including attacks on cruise ships sailing in the region.
The next port for the Fantasia will be Civitavecchia in Italy.
A German newspaper contains a quote from MSC Cruises saying that bad weather was the reason for the diversion. The cruise line said rumors of security issues are "totally unfounded."
I would be interested in hearing what crew members and passenger have to say about the weather conditions at the time.
There nonetheless appears to be a heightened security alert following the terrorist attack in Turkey.
ABC News reported yesterday that Crystal Cruises announced that it was canceling stops for the Crystal Symphony in Istanbul and Kusadasi, Turkey "in response to ongoing security concerns."
The itineraries for Crystal voyages that set sail April 24 and May 1 will reportedly include destinations in Greece instead of Turkey.
U.S. cruise operators are being tight lipped about whether they are reasonably equipped to respond to security challenged presented by ISIS. However, German tour operators recently admitted that terrorism is their top challenge in 2016. And German tourists may be re-thinking their travel plans as tourists have become terror targets.
Photo Credit: "MSC Fantasia 2012 2" by Benjamin Nagel licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia