MSC Cruises: Tunis attack hasn’t badly hurt business

The MSC Divina.

NEW YORK — The attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia that killed 17 cruise passengers on excursion has not had a major impact on bookings at MSC Cruises, said MSC Cruises USA chief Rick Sasso.

"We had very few cancellations," he said.

The MSC Splendida and the Costa Fascinosa had passengers on excursions to the Bardo on March 17 when gunmen opened fire at the site, killing 12 MSC and five Costa passengers.

Both companies have since dropped calls in Tunis. Sasso said the line was able to "augment" its itineraries with other calls. (The Splendida is now operating in northern Europe.) He said a few of the cancellations MSC received were from passengers who wanted to visit Tunis.

"That was a great port of call," he said. "Tunisia was very safe, very cultural."

MSC continues to base representatives in Tunis to work with passengers or families there; some injured passengers are still in the city, Sasso said.

He said that MSC had also reached out to passengers indirectly impacted by the attacks — for example, people on a coach that were not at the museum when the attack occurred.

"We've reached out to them and offered support," he said. "We're helping them if they need help to deal with the psychological trauma."

In a conference call with analysts earlier this month, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said that incidents like this "affects the psychology of travel."Carnival Corp. owns Costa Cruises.

"We will just have to monitor and see what the long-term effects are," he said.

Donald said that the Tunis calls were 2% of the company's total calls.


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