November 29, 2007
Earlier this month, luxury cruise ship Seabourn Spirit was approached by unknown watercraft leading to reports of a potential pirate attack. What's interesting is that the same ship encountered piracy two years ago -- on November 5, 2005, Seabourn Spirit outran boaters wielding machine guns and rocket propelled grenades while cruising off the coast of Somalia in northeastern Africa.
But this time, thankfully, appears to have been a false alarm.
Seabourn spokesman Bruce Good tells us that on the morning of November 16, outbound from Salalah, Oman, headed for Khasab, Oman, Seabourn Spirit saw three speedboats approaching portside. As is standard operating procedure, the captain sent the security officers aft and notified the regional authority, which happened to be the Royal Navy based at Dubai.
"[The Royal Navy] replied that they had an 'asset' 80 nautical miles away and asked if he required assistance," Good tells us. "[The captain] said no, that there appeared to be no threat to the ship but that it was 'good to know.' They told him to call if he needed anything. Next message from them was that they were sending a helicopter, but by then the boats were gone. The encounter had lasted just a few minutes. The helicopter did arrive, but as noted the boats were gone. There is nothing to indicate that these were pirates -- seems more likely they were curious to see what our ship was."
Good stresses that what happened this month and what happened in 2005 are quite different. "Someone evidently put out a release about a heroic rescue that thwarted a pirate attack, but it was not that by any stretch," he tells us. "This report wants to lump Oman in with the Somali coast -- a long way away, and the attack we had two years ago -- and that is sad for the ports in Oman because they are doing a nice job of providing good experiences to our guests."
dd@sea, who was onboard at the time, posts on Cruise Critic's Seabourn forum: "We just returned from the Alexandria to Dubai trip on the Spirit. The incident did happen around Oman area -- I don't know specifically where but we were in trivia and a person announced a British Navy helicopter would be flying over in three minutes time.
"No explanation was given why but they flew around the ship and low -- even waved too. Some of us did see skiffs coming toward the boat but they did not get close."
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor