Sea Princess has nightly curfew amid waters known for pirates

Somali pirates walking

The ship's captain wanted to remind his crew and his passengers that the threat of pirates "was real and the ship must be prepared for a pirate attack".

This was all due to Captain Gennaro Arma's true concern of a "pirate attack" that was probable if they were spotted.

That is exactly what passengers on a recent around-the-world 104-night sailing aboard the Sea Princess had to do as the captain and crew feared they could be taken over at any moment.

Carolyne Jasinski, a freelance writer, was on board the ship and wrote about her experience of the 10-day blackout as the ship travelled across the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.

"No deck parties, no movies under the stars, no late-night outdoor bar hopping or pool dipping", Jasinski wrote, listing everything that was shut off because of the threat. The ships lights were also dimmed to avoid attracting attention. Many passengers started alerting ship officials and the captain of every possible boat or ship they say and it "drove the captain nuts", according to Jasinski's report. All around the ship, as the sun set, all curtains were drawn and all shutters closed.

"It is common practice for the master of a ship to take precautions against pirate attack if his vessel is on passage through a sea area where he considers that there is a risk of piracy", Austen told Condé Nast Traveler. "In the case of a real threat, those passengers in outside cabins were told to close and lock their balcony doors, then lock their entrance door to their cabin and take shelter in the corridors".

The Sea Princess ultimately escaped unscathed.

One of the most dramatic incidents happened in 2008 when the Nautica cruise ship was sacked upon by two pirate boats in the Gulf Of Aden, according to the IMO.

The 856-foot Sea Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, departed New Zealand in May for a worldwide trip that finishes in September.

The compulsory drill saw holidaymakers sent back to their cabins so they could be counted by staff on the cruise.

"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 global shipping sailing in the region", a spokesperson said.

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