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Am I Safe From Pirate Attacks on My Cruise Ship?


Am I Safe From Pirate Attacks on My Cruise Ship?
Photo © US Navy / Getty Images

Question: Am I Safe From Pirate Attacks on My Cruise Ship?


The answer to this question depends on your itinerary.

The best way to avoid having to worry about pirate attacks is to skip cruises that take you through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, North Indian Ocean, the Malacca Straits or the South China Sea. Many of these voyages are so-called "repositioning cruises" that are used to move cruise ships from one body of water to another. Unfortunately, Somali pirates have been not only hijacking cargo ships but also pursuing passenger liners, according to the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre. The pirates' objectives are to steal passengers' valuables and demand ransom for the safe return of hostages.

The U.S. State Department's Worldwide Caution for East Africa (Somalia, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden) includes the following warning:

Americans considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there have been several incidents of armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom at sea by pirates during the past several years. Merchant vessels continue to be hijacked in Somali territorial waters, while others have been hijacked as far as 300 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia in international waters.

Although an international naval force is patrolling these waters, the area involved is quite large and it is easy for the naval patrols to miss small pirate vessels.

With so many cruise itineraries to choose from, avoiding pirate-infested waters is a simple process. All you have to do is select an itinerary that is far away from areas where acts of piracy have occurred. Evidence suggests that pirates are moving farther out into international waters, so paying attention to news of pirate attacks will help you choose a safe itinerary.

If you must travel through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, North Indian Ocean or the Malacca Straits, take every precaution. Leave jewelry, cash and valuables at home. Make copies of your passport and other important travel documents; keep one copy with you and leave a second set with a relative or trusted friend at home. Be sure to register your itinerary with the U.S. Embassy in the countries you plan to visit, and carry a list of emergency contact numbers with you.


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