A pirate attack is the last thing on your mind in the 21st century when boarding a cruise. However, it seemed like a reality when 1,900 passengers on board the Sea Princess had to adhere to a mandatory dusk-to-dawn blackout for fear of pirate attack.
Passengers were advised that all curtains must be drawn, lights dimmed and doors closed as their vessel was turned into a “ghost ship” for 10 days. The ban included no evening parties on the deck, no swimming under the stars and no after dusk outdoor movement was allowed.
A lady passenger on the ship recalls saying “Now I knew why they had been playing a documentary on our cabin TVs about piracy on the high seas. They were getting us ready for what was to come; gently reminding us that piracy is still a problem.
She further wrote “He apologized for alarming passengers. However, the threat, he said, was real and the ship must be prepared for a pirate attack . The Captain announced as part of the preparations, we would have a compulsory pirate drill. We had to know what to do in case pirates attack. We had to be prepared for evasive action.Passengers were sent back to their cabins so they could be counted.
For the purpose of the drill, they needed only to remain there and be crossed off a list by their stateroom attendants. They were advised to sit on the floor and to hang on to hand rails in case the ship had to manoeuvre away from 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.”
The Sea Princess ship was on a world cruise with its journey starting from Sydney Australia. The itinerary contained a visit to 27 countries with 41 ports of call covering destinations in Europe, Asia, North America, South America and the South Pacific along with overnights in Dubai, Venice, Barcelona and New York.
The situation was faced on the first leg of the journey from Sydney to Dubai where pirate attack threats are higher when sailing through the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.
While it may not be highlighted in the news, it appears that across the world pirates are setting their sails on the high seas again. With Asia and West Africa having more than 80% incidents of armed robbery, hijackings, and boarding ships.
Thankfully no real pirates pirates were encountered on the voyage though after that experience no one aboard the ship looked at fishing boats and skiffs in a nonchalant way.
I’ve never been on a cruise, but remind me to check the route map the next time I’m signing up for one.