On my recent cruise with Holland America, the ship, MS Ryndam, was scheduled to visit La Goulette, in Tunisia. It was to be my very first visit to Tunisia, and my first to the continent of Africa, and I was extremely excited about it to say the least.

Sitting in the restaurant eating breakfast on the day before we were scheduled to arrive in Tunisia, the captain, Mark Rowden, came over the intercom system with the announcement that our visit had been cancelled. Unbeknown to me (because I hadn’t had the TV in my stateroom on the whole cruise!) there had been a considerable amount of political unrest in the country.

The Potential Danger

The decision to cancel had come after videos of the US Embassy being set on fire had been posted on video sharing website Youtube. The anti-American protests had escalated over time and come to a head just days before we were due to dock in La Goulette.

Apparently some passengers had expressed their worry that we might be in potential danger by docking there, and the captain had taken them on-board. After liaising with Holland America’s head office in Seattle, he had taken the difficult decision to cancel.

Whilst I was obviously disappointed at not being able to visit Africa for the first time, I understood why the decision had been taken. A cruise liner which is run by an American cruise company, or it’s passengers, could have been targets for further anti-American protests.

Whilst in all probability, our visit to Tunisia would have passed without incident, the captain was not prepared to take the risk, and I entirely supported the decision he had made.

Not Worth The Risk

If something had happened to the ship, or any of its passengers, the blame would have been placed with him. It’s an immeasurable responsibility to be in charge of a vessel of that size, and all its passengers and crew, so I didn’t envy the decision he had to make that day. It simply wouldn’t have been worth putting the ship and passengers at risk.

Luckily for myself and the rest of the passengers, Captain Rowden was able to schedule a visit to Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia instead. The fact that we were able to visit another place made the change in schedule all the easier to take and I really enjoyed our visit to Cagliari.  

Thanks Emma