Cruise ship under “real threat” of pirate attack

Cruise ship under “real threat” of pirate attack

Holidaymakers aboard a Princess Cruises ship were expecting a luxury escape, but ended up experiencing quite a terrifying ordeal due to the threat of pirates, although a Princess spokesperson has since stated there was no “specific threat”.

The Sea Princess was just 10 days into a 104-day world cruise, departing Sydney and en route to Dubai, when the 1900 passengers – many of whom paid more than $50,000, per Daily Mail – were instructed to turn off all lights and music on the luxury liner due to the risk of being attacked by pirates.

UPDATE 8/8 5.20pm: A response from Princess Cruises spokesperson stated:

“We do not discuss specific security procedures or equipment on our vessels. In addition to our normal ongoing security training, additional piracy specific training is conducted prior to any of our vessels entering areas of concern.

“Any measures aboard Sea Princess were simply taken out of an abundance caution and not in response to a specific threat and are common to international shipping sailing in the region.”

Per DM, one of these passengers was Aussie media specialist, Carolyne Jasinski, who said the ship became more of a ‘ghost ship’ as it sailed through the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Suez Canal.

“Captain Gennaro Arma addressed the ship. He apologised for alarming passengers,” she wrote in a piece on news.com.au.

“However, the threat, he said, was real and the ship must be prepared for a pirate attack.”

“We were on the first leg of a world cruise from Sydney to Dubai. We stopped at Melbourne and Fremantle before heading to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, and then Dubai.

“For 10 days we travelled through an area where the risk of piracy is higher.”

According to Jasinski, there was “no deck parties, no movies under the stars, no late-night outdoor bar hopping or pool dipping, no lights, [and] no party atmosphere”.

Passenger speculation shifted to possible terror threats, as “all curtains were drawn and all shutters closed”.

“The captain announced that as well as the dusk-til-dawn blockout, as part of the preparations, we would have a compulsory pirate drill,” she wrote on news.com.au.

Passengers were sent back to their cabins, instructed to wait until they were counted by stateroom attendants as part of the drill. They were also advised to sit on the floor and hold onto the hand rails in case the ship had to swerve to avoid pirate ships.

“In the case of a real threat, those passengers in outside cabins were told to close and lock their balcony doors, then lock their entrance door to their cabin and take shelter in the corridors,” Jasinski wrote.

“That put two metal doors between passengers and pirates.”

Despite being told the ship could outrun any pirate ships – which are commonly small but very fast and equipped with guns and ladders to board ships – there was still officers on 24/7 watch and fire hoses ready on deck.

However, as reinforced by the Princess Cruises spokesperson, this is a common procedure for ships entering these waters as there is still a risk, however it’s rarely required in a real circumstance.

Per Daily Mail, there have been six reported attempts over the past 12 years.

The most recent one was in March this year, where Somali pirates managed to hijack their first commercial ship since 2012.

Despite capturing the Aris 13 oil tanker, though, the ship was later released without a ransom being paid.

Lead image: Sea Princess – credit Princess Cruises

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