Is piracy still a real threat?

Penny doesn’t want to be an alarmist, but wants to know what the likelihood is of an attack by pirates on her cruise ship, and what precautions cruise lines take to prevent attacks.


Q. Penny
I’ve always wanted to go on a Mediterranean cruise, but I must admit, I’m a bit paranoid about piracy. I saw a movie not so long ago that showed a pirate attack on a research vessel, and I’m wondering if pirates actually attack cruise ships. If so, which areas should I avoid?

A. The likelihood of a pirate attack in this day and age can really depend on the itinerary of your cruise. It is best to avoid cruises taking you through the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, North Indian Ocean, the Malacca Straits or the South China Sea. While the objective of hijacking cruise ships is to steal passengers’ valuables and demand ransom for the safe return of passengers, most instances of piracy actually involve cargo ships.

However, when it comes to piracy, cruise lines prepare for defence in a number of ways:

  • monitoring movement in the area, whether in known danger spots or not
  • contracting with maritime information, research and tracking companies to keep them informed about of happenings at sea by tracking vessels
  • officers and crew members keeping lookout and reporting any suspicious movement in the water
  • constant surveying of surveillance cameras
  • bright spotlights are mounted onboard and used at night to help spot any vessels approaching the cruise liner
  • crew members have regular drills on tactics to be employed in the unlikely event of an approach by pirates.

Again, the likelihood of your cruise ship being attacked is minimal to extremely unlikely. Cruise ships are set up to make it virtually impossible and the crew are well trained in the one-in-a-million chance a ship is hijacked, so rest – or should I say ‘cruise’ – assured!

If you have a Travel SOS question, send it to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it or find someone who can.

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