Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled all stops in Tunisia after the country refused to allow passengers with Israeli passports to disembark last Sunday.
“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO. “We are outraged by this act and the fact that we were not notified in advance of this practice. We apologize sincerely to our guests who were affected and want them to know that we have taken the appropriate action in response.”
Israelis on a 21-day Mediterranean cruise aboard the Norwegian Jade were informed that they would not be allowed to get off the boat to explore Tunis, a new Tunisian policy that the cruise line said they were not informed of in advance.
The cruise line stressed in a statement that “the company does not condone or tolerate discrimination of any type and with these cancellations hopes to send a message to those who do that such acts are completely unacceptable.”
One Canadian who stayed on board the ship in solidarity with the Israeli passengers told the National Post that the cruise staff were “very elusive” about the ban.
“They said they got an email from the immigration department in Tunisia stating Israelis were not allowed to get off the ship,” passenger Ed Glina said. “They were not given any reason why Israelis were not allowed off the ship — they indicated that in previous months when they had been to Tunisia, Israelis were allowed to get off — and that they didn’t know why this was happening.”
Tunisia’s tourism minister claims the country is still open to Jews, but Israelis need pre-arranged visas unlike the other passengers.
“We applaud the courageous and responsible decision of Norwegian Cruise Line in standing up to the discriminatory policy of the Tunisian government,” said Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. “They have sent a clear message to Tunisia and other governments that discriminatory practices against Israelis and other nationals will have a negative impact on tourism.”