Updated: Luxury Yacht Still Held By Pirates
France In Contact with Somali Pirates
Somalia Urges France to Take Action Against Pirates
(April 9, 2:30 p.m.) -- We're continuing to monitor the hostage situation on Le Ponant. Now that the French government and the pirates are in the negotiation phase, it could be days or weeks before either an agreement is reached or an attack is launched. As soon as something happens, we'll post an update.
(April 8, 1 p.m.) -- Negotiations continue -- and "may take a long time," according to an earlier statement from French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner -- to secure the release of 30 hostages aboard Le Ponant. With the uncertainty of the situation, future cruise itineraries aboard the French-owned luxury yacht are up in the air.
That includes cruises that Tauck World Discovery, a Connecticut-based travel company that charters the ship, has offered to its clients. The first scheduled cruise Tauck is offering on Le Ponant is planned to depart on April 27; it's a 10-night "Sicily, Amalfi Coast and Rome" sailing.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed for a whole host of reasons," Tauck representative Tom Armstrong told Cruise Critic, "but at this point, we've adopted a wait and see attitude, and haven't made any firm decisions."
"The Captain and the crew are in our thoughts and prayers," Armstrong added.
Though the safety of the kidnapped ship staff is the only real concern, Tauck is expected to make an announcement about upcoming itineraries within the next few days.
As you've read, the 64-passenger Le Ponant was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia on Friday while repositioning from the Seychelles, where it had spent the winter, to the Mediterranean. Only crew were aboard. While Le Ponant traditionally serves French cruise travelers, the three-masted, 64-passenger ship is also chartered by Tauck for a series of spring, summer and fall 2008 Mediterranean sailings, catered primarily to passengers from the U.S.
Tauck's other Le Ponant itineraries, with several departures in May and June, include an 11-night "Mediterranean Discovery" package, which stops in Costa Brava, Girona on the Spanish coast, Majorca and Minorca in Spain's Balearic Islands, and a 12-night "Treasures of the Mediterranean" package, with stops in Provence, the French Riviera and Italy's Amalfi Coast.
Stay tuned. --by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor