Nightly Blackouts and Pirate Drills on World Cruise

Sea Princess cruise

A cruise aboard the Sea Princess, which departed from Sydney, Australia and was on its way toward Dubai, underwent a 10-day nightly blackout period as it traveled through the Indian Ocean and Suez Canal, home to heightened pirate activity.

Jasinski said the captain alerted the 1,900 passengers, apologizing for alarming them, but insisted they must be prepared for a possible pirate attack.

"No deck parties, no movies under the stars, no late-night outdoor bar hopping or pool dipping", Jasinski wrote, providing the list of things that were shut down because of the potential threat.

Passenger Carolyne Jasinski, writing in news.com.au, described Captain Gennaro Arma's address to the ship. "Bright lights, which normally signal the presence of the Sea Princess on the ocean, were dimmed or turned off altogether", she wrote.

Having paid more than £30,000 (almost $39,000) for a ticket for a 105-day world cruise, the passengers were dismayed to discover the beginning of their trip did not have quite the luxurious atmosphere they had been promised.

In fearing an attack by Somali pirates, there were even a number of crew drills in which passengers had to get involved and know what to do in case danger came their way.

Tourists were also advised to sit on the floor and hold onto hand rails - in case the boat had to suddenly swerve away from pirate vessels. In the event of an actual attack, passengers were drilled to lock the door to their cabin, as well as balcony doors and to shelter in the ship's passageways.

While some travellers were skeptical of the risk and ignored the rules of the drill run, Jasinski says the captain quickly put them in their place and scolded them over the loudspeaker.

Princess Cruises told The Daily Telegraph there was no iminent threat from pirates, but the actions were taken as a cautionary measure.

Somali pirates often approach cruise ships on small skiffs, armed with rifles and ladders to scale the towering hull of a high-seas vessel.

"It was all smooth sailing, so to speak, on the Sea Princess", she wrote, "but it definitely changed the mood on the ship".

"Any measures aboard Sea Princess were simply taken out of an abundance of caution and not in response to a specific threat and are common to worldwide shipping sailing in the region", the report quoted the spokesperson.

The International Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce tracks pirate attacks around the world and shows that attacks on cruise ships are rare, Condé Nast Traveler reported.

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