Cruise Passengers on Shore Excursion During Tunis Attack

Costa Crociere has confirmed that passengers from the Costa Fascinosa were on a shore excursion in the National Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18, the day of an attack that has killed at least 19.

According to the Guardian, the above photo shows people inside the museum. The people pictured were not hostages. // Photo via Twitter

"Further to this morning attack in Tunis, Costa Crociere confirms that some of its guests had booked a Shore Excursion in the City," Costa said in a statement on the situation. "Upon being notified the Ship’s Command have immediately recalled all excursions to return on board.

"The safety of our Guests and Crew both onboard as well as during shore excursions is the top priority for Costa. The company is in close contact with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Local Security Authorities, the Captain of Costa Fascinosa and our local Port Agent for a continuous assessment of the situation on site and its evolution so to collect updated information from the Authorities. 3161 Guests were on board this cruise.

"The departure of the ship from Tunis which was scheduled for tonight at 7pm has been postponed to tomorrow, Thursday March, 19, time to be confirmed.

"Costa HQ management and Care Team are traveling to Tunis to reach the ship tonight in order to liaise with the local Authorities and passengers on board. 

"Extra security measures are taken by local security Authorities around the port to ensure the security of ship, its passengers and the crew.

"Costa Crociere expresses its sympathy to all the people and their families involved in today's tragic event."

Passengers from the MSC Splendida were also on tours at the museum on March 18. MSC Cruises has released the following statement:

"With respect to the events that are currently taking place in Tunis, in particular at the Bardo National Museum, MSC Cruises confirms the following:
"- One of our ships, MSC Splendida, is currently calling the port of La Goulette, Tunis
"- At the time of the events, some MSC Splendida guests were on shore excursions, including to the Bardo National Museum.
"- All MSC Cruises coaches on tour at the time of the events were immediately ordered back to the port and all other excursions and on the ground activities were immediately suspended.
"MSC Cruises is in close contact with the relevant national and international authorities, local authorities, the ship captain as well as with the port agent to constantly monitor the situation as it unfolds. Further updates will follow." 

The UNWTO has condemned the attack and extended sympathy to the victims and their families.

“This act of violence deserves the condemnation of the international community. As part of the global tourism family, we are shocked by these horrible attacks. The relatives and friends of the victims are in our thoughts and we once more convey our solidarity with the people and the Government of Tunisia,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

“Tourism is a lifeline for the economy of Tunisia and we will continue our support to ensure that tourism continues to provide development opportunities to its people," Rifai said.

The attack on the museum has killed at least 19, with 22 more inured. According to local media reports, a possible third gunman may still be at large. 

While the identity and motivation of the attackers is not clear at this time, officials said it was possible that the Parliament, where some reports said legislators were discussing an antiterrorism law, was the original target of the attack.

Keep visiting for further updates to this developing story.