Pirate Attacks: Readers Respond

December 12, 2008
After the recent attempted pirate attack on Oceania Cruises' Nautica, Cruise Critic's message boards have been abuzz with travelers fiercely debating whether they would risk taking a cruise that sails through the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden. Several threads -- some started by Cruise Critic staffers to share information, others by members like you -- asked the question: Would you still consider cruising in that part of the world?

Here's what you had to say:

Majority Rules: No

Overall, the general consensus was that people do not feel safe cruising in a region where violence and attacks are possible -- and have been increasing. Most of the members who posted to the threads expressed that the risks of a potential attack or injury far outweighed the rewards that would result from a trip to the ports of call in these perilous areas.

"No way! I take vacations to relax as well as visit other lands/cultures. Going into areas with known troubles certainly wouldn't be relaxing ... better safe than sorry." --beachyfe

"While it is true that pirate attacks can occur almost anywhere, there's no way I'd take a cruise in the area where they are now apparently very active. There are plenty of other places to cruise, without deliberately putting myself at risk."

"I am willing to depend upon the travel warnings of the U. S. State Department. If they say that an area is too dangerous, then I will heed those warnings. I know that the cruise lines do." --rkacruiser

Is It Really That Bad?

Some members charged that the media over publicized the pirate attacks and instilled fear in people's minds, when in fact there are many types of risks in several places around the world.

"Can I just ask where people would find it not advisable or acceptable to venture? Would you not go to New York because the chances of being knocked down in traffic are high, or would you avoid London because of the predilection of some youths to stick a knife in you? The chances of something happening to you in (the Gulf of Aden), believe it or not, are much lower than in the areas I have proposed, but the power of the media has imprinted fear in your mind and made you more than hesitant." -- Neil Down

"Sometimes we fear things that the media plays up like terrorism, more than things that are likely to happen to us: car accidents, being hit by lightning, falling down in your own home. However, there was yet another attempted takeover of a cruise ship and the piracy rate on large vessels off Somalia is rising, so it is something to take into consideration." --fun*n*sun

I'm Going Anyway

Still, there are some cruisers who will not be stopped from traveling to these corners of the world, no matter the risk. The few who felt safe enough said they would cruise this region, and some are going through with plans to take a cruise through the Gulf of Aden in the near future.

"Speed and technology now have become important criteria. If a ship can provide that, I would be willing to take it."

"We will be cruising through the Gulf of Aden next May, on a repositioning cruise from Singapore, through the Suez Canal, to Rome. As I see it, the chances of our particular cruise ship being taken by pirates are statistically pretty small, and our chances of being killed in a traffic accident in our home town are much greater." --Celle

And for a Bit of Humor...

"Pirates would have to be clueless to attempt to board a cruise ship! They'd be overcome immediately should they try to cut in the buffet line or hoard a lounger by the pool." –-Sammy

The Gulf of Aden is the most practical route for cruise ships to sail between the Mediterranean and Asia; but, as we've seen, it is not necessarily the safest. The unlikely alternative is to tack on 20 or more days to a cruise that sails around the entire continent of Africa.

So far, German line Hapag-Lloyd has modified one of its cruises; it arranged for passengers to debark before reaching the Gulf of Aden and continuing on to Dubai by airplane. And, in an attempt to get the situation under control, the U.S. recently submitted a proposal to the U.N. that would authorize tracking of Somali pirates. But there is no simple solution to the piracy problems off the coast of Somalia.

Stay tuned to Cruise Critic for the latest on this story. We'll stay on top of developments as they occur and provide updates as they relate to cruise travel. In the meantime, we'd like to hear from you. Will piracy impact your decision to cruise these regions?

Share your comments on the Cruise Critic message boards.

--by Kim Kazell, Assistant Editor

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