PHOTO: The Indian Ocean and nearby bodies of water face a higher threat of piracy.
Passengers aboard a 104-day luxury world cruise were forced to sail without lights for 10 days out of an abundance of caution.
According to passenger Carolyne Jasinski, guests aboard the Sea Princess experienced nightly blackouts and participated in pirate drills while sailing through the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal. The aforementioned bodies of water are at higher risk of piracy, causing the blackouts to affect the first leg of the world cruise, which sailed from Sydney to Dubai.
“No deck parties, no movies under the stars, no late-night outdoor bar hopping or pool dipping. No lights, no party atmosphere, no lapping up tropical breezes on their balconies,” wrote Jasinski, who is also a travel writer, in a piece for News.com.au.
“All around the ship, as the sun set, all curtains were drawn and all shutters closed. Bright lights, which normally signal the presence of the Sea Princess on the ocean, were dimmed or turned off altogether.”
Jasinski said that the ship’s captain addressed passengers, apologizing for alarming them but warning that the threat of a pirate attack was real.
“[Passengers] were advised to sit on the floor and to hang on to hand rails in case the ship had to maneuver away from pirate ships,” added Jasinski. “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.”
She noted that the precautions “changed the mood on the ship.”
However, by Jasinski’s account, “it was all smooth sailing” and passengers had little criticism of the safety-first approach.
“Surprisingly there were very few complaints about our dusk-til-dawn limits,” she wrote. “Passengers took it all in stride.”
“In addition to our normal ongoing security training, additional piracy specific training is conducted prior to any of our vessels entering areas of concern,” a Princess Cruises spokesperson said in a statement to the New York Daily News.
“Any measures aboard Sea Princess were simply taken out of an abundance caution and not in response to a specific threat and are common to international shipping sailing in the region.”
The Miami Herald also points out that Princess Cruises’ passage contract specifically states that the “carrier has the absolute right and sole discretion to respond to safety concerns of any kind, including but not limited to sailing with or without lights.”
The world cruise departed New Zealand in May and wraps up next month.