Update: Cruise Lines Continue Efforts to Avoid Pirates

April 10, 2010
Update: Telegraph.co.uk further reports today that P&O Cruises ships are still passing through the Gulf of Aden -- but that its captains have instituted safety measures onboard. Passengers have been asked to keep cabin curtains drawn and refrain from using the promenade decks from 6:30 p.m. until 7 a.m.

(April 9) -- Pirates are still wreaking havoc -- on cruise ship itineraries, that is. This week, Regent Seven Seas Cruises amended the itinerary of its world cruise aboard Seven Seas Voyager to steer the ship away from a region with increased pirate activity.

Instead of calling in Mombasa, Kenya, and Zanzibar, Tanzania, on April 6 and 7, the ship called in Port Louis, Mauritius, and Reunion Island, a French territory, on those days. A letter distributed to passengers on the current segment of the world cruise said that "as the safety and security of our guests is our number one priority, we will be amending our itinerary to avoid sailing through an area of recently increased pirate activity."

Indeed, a March 29 statement by MARAD (the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Division) confirms that "attacks have taken place off the Kenyan and Tanzanian Coasts ... Vessel operators should anticipate an increase in piracy attacks from March through May." And Cruise Director Jamie Logan says in his blog that "Captain Dag had received quite a few letters of concern and even had a call from British Security in England."

It's not unusual for cruise ships to make itinerary changes to avoid areas with pirate activity, though most lines seem to make those decisions in advance, rather than during the cruise. Star Clippers announced in January that it would cancel its Far East cruises due to the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, where its ships would transit between the Mediterranean and Asia. Last year, Seabourn Cruise Line announced it would cancel its 2010/11 Africa and Indian Ocean season, and MSC Cruises, Fred. Olsen and Hapag-Lloyd also tweaked itineraries to avoid possible pirate attacks.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor