Security failed the tourists from the Costa and MSC cruise ships visiting Tunisia last week. The result: 17 dead cruise passengers and two dozen injured.

Tunisia acknowledges it. The risk of jihadists attacking tourists was readily foreseeable. Security analysts and security forces blew it.

In response to this failure, Tunisia fired the country’s leading security experts as well as high ranking police officers.

Tunis Terror Attack CruiseTwo newspapers covered the firings.

Al Jazeera  published Six Tunisia Police Chiefs Dismissed Over Museum Attack. The article explains that Tunisia’s prime minister Habas Essid fired six police commanders, including those in charge of tourist security and intelligence teams. In addition, a police officer working at the museum was arrested for abandoning his post during the attack. Four other armed police officers "were having coffees and a snack" when terrorists struck the museum. 

The Daily News published Tunisia Fires 5 Top Security Officials in Bardo Museum Attack Backlash. The article pointed out that the ousted officials include the director of Tunisia’s tourist police and the police chief for the neighborhood around the Bardo Museum. The decision was reportedly made after the prime minister visited the neighborhood of the attack and observed security problems. Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi reportedly also criticized security failures around last week’s attack.

But what about the security chief at Costa and MSC, including ship security officers and fleet-wide security directors? Why weren’t they fired? They are just as responsible for the security failure. The cruise lines picked the port and sailed their guests into danger without any security protection or warnings. The cruise industry is not only refusing to take any responsibility for the massacre but the spokesperson for the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) is boasting that "cruise ships are a safe and secure place for our guests in the rare event of a shore side incident."

MSC Cruises USA CEO Rick Sasso told Travel Pulse "There was no hint of terrorism or uncertainty in Tunisia before the attack . . . There are a zillion ports around the world, and we follow all of them. . . There was nothing going on there that indicated this should’ve been a concern."

I am amazed how clueless this cruise executive sounds. Tunisian soldiers were engaged in ongoing battles against Al Qaeda, there were prior suicides bombers which targeted hotels and museum attacks which targeted tourists. The UK issued a prior warning of a terrorist attack on tourist sites and the US repeatedly urged caution. ISIS was recruiting young men from mosques in Tunis to be trained and radicalized in Libya.  And MSC sails in like everything is fine.   

Tunisia should be commended for taking responsibility and cleaning house.

It’s a shame that the PR department at CLIA and the CEO of MSC are engaged in their usual irresponsible shenanigans and gobbledygook.  

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Photo Credit: AFP/Getty via DailyMail

  • Garold Cecil

    I believe the security “chiefs” if can call them that should have been terminated. They should have done due diligence and would have concluded the cruise lines should have also been responsible for passenger security.

  • slava

    The first problem is that

    originally the SSO on the ship’s is Ship Security Officer and usually is the staff captain .
    So both of the company’s not going to fire them and send them home because in real they are not rely know eny thing abut the real security.
    The chief security on both of these companies are no thing more than to be  marionette they are yes men’s . Not more than that .
    The owners of the MSC hier sam show man to be the owner of the Security company . And they provide only sam simple shows that I the reality.
    Only when the owner of MSC will change the security company and to hier sam specialist company for checking out all nessery for upgrades
    Only than we can see the results .

  • Dave

    My wife and I were aboard MSC Splendida with a stop in Tunis this Feb. We were impressed by the thorough security measures in place aboard the ship. Short of not stopping at Tunis, I am not sure what you expect the individual cruise lines to do. In fact, I thought the security at the actual port of Tunis was better than most others we visited. In today’s world it is up to the individual to make informed decisions and accept the risks associated with their travels.

  • Adrian Prince

    Unless there’s a specific threat, we shouldn’t give in to terrorism. We’re due to visit Tunis on MSC in October and I still want to go. I haven’t seen anything to say the threat level was especially high. I don’t see that the cruise line security chiefs did anything wrong.

  • Dave:

    Maritime law requires cruise lines to properly investigate ports where they take cruise passengers to and make certain that the destinations are reasonably safe. The cruise companies have a duty to warn passengers os risks associated with the particular cruise itinerary.

  • doddy dali
  • doddy dali

    CARTHAGE is more than INTERESTING to visit … the MEDINA OF TUNIS is one the most interesting spots to visit …… We hope that ” M S C ” will be back AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to ” LA GOULETTE / TUNIS ” …….. ANY NEWS PLEASE ????