Yesterday, I commented on our Facebook page on the report of a cruise passenger that the Norwegian Spirit, together with the Italian Coast Guard, were involved in assisting what were initially believed to be 300 Syrian immigrants at sea. The NCL cruise ship left Naples heading for Mikonos. A passenger said that that according to captain, the Italian Coast Guard took care of most of refugees and the NCL ship took two pregnant woman onboard who will be medevaced by helicopter for medical treatment.
The incident was widely reported on television in Europe today. Euronews reported today that the refugees initially believed to be from Syria, were Sudanese, Somalis and Egyptians. News accounts showed an Italian Coast Guard vessel taking hundreds of refugees aboard as well as medevacing a pregnant woman from what is reported to be the Norwegian Spirit.
Our posting of the event on Facebook sparked a number of hateful comments about refugees from the Middle East and Africa. There is a long standing maritime tradition of providing aid to people at sea. But many people called the refugees "terrorists," although these poor people were probably fleeing from terror in their home countries.
Fear of refugees at sea is increasingly becoming a part of the debate whether U.S. travelers believe that it is safe to cruise in the Mediterranean this summer. Fox News Travel reports today that "the terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and Turkey over the last year haven’t dissuaded Americans from visiting Europe, but they appear to be having an effect on the cruise line industry. Fewer Americans are signing up for Mediterranean cruises this year, according to executives at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Cruises, indicating that the attacks by Islamic State jihadists are affecting the industry."
Travel Market Report says today that "Norwegian Cruise Line released its first-quarter financial results this week, (and) it acknowledged that the attacks in Europe have impacted its bookings mainly among just one customer base: North America."
The Cruise Critic web site stated today that Carnival Cruise Line has canceled calls on the port of Izmir, Turkey, on all upcoming sailings of Carnival Vista, following a warning from the U.S. State Department. Cruise Critic says that "Izmir was specifically named in a March 29 travel advisory from the State Department, which warned against unnecessary travel to southeastern Turkey due to an increased risk of terrorist activity targeting American travelers."
If U.S. national politics are any indication, there is a significant percentage of U.S. citizens who are xenophobic and view Arab refugees as potential trouble.
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