Pirates at Sea – On the Queen Mary 2

bristol has a famous pirate

Pirates at Sea on the QM2

On the 2nd day of the Dubai to Southampton cruise on-board the Queen Mary we were informed of security procedures that would be taking place tonight due to going through pirate waters.

This was a surprise as I didn’t even think of pirates when I booked the cruise and under normal circumstances this probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much but since I had watched Captain Philips a few weeks ago I was a little apprehensive.

The film is based on the story of mariner Richard Phillips who was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. I used to think Pirates were villains from stories i heard when I read when I was a child but the modern day pirates are real and they are active off the coasts of Somalia.

pirate flag
source : Wikipedia

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a cruise ship was attacked by pirates? No neither did I until we were at risk.

For 3 days we were transiting through the Gulf of Aden which according to Cunard is “well documented in the worlds media with regard to the threat of piracy”. Excellent security procedures were put in place well I say they were excellent as we didn’t get attacked so obviously something worked.

We went through an international recommended transit corridor and we were under the protection of an international task force assigned by a united nations mandate to protect merchant ships from attack.

somalian pirate map
source : Wikipedia

There was a bit of an atmosphere on the ship as I guess it was excitement and anxiety, I didn’t see anyone guarding the desks with machine guns or anything but there was heightened security.

Deck 7 and 6 Outer decks were fully closed from dusk to dawn, they had lookouts so we were told not to use these at all in order for them to have full night vision without any deck lighting. Other decks were open but I never went out.

do pirates attack

During the hours of darkness only essential open deck lights were on. This is the one of the only times on the ship where I am glad that I have an inside cabin. The captain reminded passengers with a balcony to make sure they switch the lights off and close the curtains at night.

If I was in a balcony I would either be sleeping in the bathroom or out on the balcony keeping an eye out for rogue boats but I am not quite sure which. I was hoping because I had an inside cabin it was going to be the last place the pirates would get to and they would think I was poor and didn’t have anything worth robbing.

In the event of any pirate activity a warning announcement would be made from the bridge

“Attention, Attention. Security alert – go immediately to your secure positions”

If we heard this announcement we were required to :

  • Move quickly and calmly to the inside of the ship (now if I saw pirates I would be moving very quickly but I can’t guarantee it would be calmly). Guests are asked not to remain on any open decks or near external windows
  • Guests should proceed directly to your stateroom, if it has a window or a balcony you should sit in the corridor on a chair or on the floor but not in front of the door.
  • If you have an inside cabin you can remain inside the cabin – again glad I and an inside cabin as I would be locking myself in the bathroom if I heard this warning
  • The cabin stewards will be doing a check of the staterooms to ensure all guests are accounted for

Well we got through the first night with no drama. The captain informed us in the noon announcement that we were so many miles from the Somaolian coast which made it all seem more real.

I know it was unlikely that we are going to be hijacked but it does happen. I have heard stories of people who have been on board ships that have been attacked by pirates, they lived to tell the tale so that’s not too bad. Earlier this year there were reports of pirates hijacking a commercial ship. 

I was thinking should I take my money out of the safe and hide it under my pillow but to be fair I have little money, no jewellery on an inside poor cabin so think they might target the others before they got to me.

Some passengers mentioned there was a bit of drama one day as a unidentified boat was close to the ship and planes came low to investigate. I believe we were being closely monitored by the Navy.

It made those few days a little interesting and I have to confess I am slightly disappointed we didn’t see pirates although it would be a different story if we did – there’s no pleasing me sometimes!!!

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  1. I saw ‘Captain Philips’ as well, and I don’t think I would be at ease neither, cruising so close to Somalia. Good to know that they have all kinds of safety procedures in place, hopefully they never have to use them.

  2. The last photo was a good ending to the story. hahaa 🙂 Very interesting experience. And even more if you have just seen Captain Philips. It definitely adds to that. I almost felt the emotions and tension while reading the story. And now I’m relieved it ended good. Such a cool post!!!

  3. I can understand that disappointment of not seeing any pirates. It would have been exciting and fearful at the same time. But it is impressive that they do take good precautions to be prepared for any surprising event.

  4. Wow, I would have never imagined part of a cruise to be like this, I can imagine it was a little tense! I have seen Captain Philips so I understand why you were a little more worried than if you hadn’t seen it! I haven’t heard the story of an actual cruise ship being hijacked, I’m glad you made it past Somalia safely.

  5. Glad that you were safe! I used to think that Pirates were only fictional characters like Captain Jack Sparrow. But now you’ve opened my eyes!

  6. I didn’t know situation gets so intense during sails in those areas! Wonder how have these cruise companies even managed to run cruises in pirate waters for so long. Glad things didnt get worrisome at all! But yes taking precautions is of utmost importance in this scenario!

  7. It’s crazy to think that in today’s day and age pirates are a real concern! I would be a little nervous going past Somalia. Glad you made it safely, though!

  8. OMG this sounds not less than a movie lol. How cool and adventurous is that .I wish I could go on such a cruise someday. I guess you had an amazing experience .

  9. Wow! It’s crazy to think that pirates really do exist to this day! That’s awesome they cruise ship takes so many precautions to be safe. I laughed when you said it’s best to be at the bottom and be considered poor. I would also prefer this! haha

  10. I completely understand how you felt. I have worked for an international cruise ship from 2013 to 2015. Before joining the ship, we attended a seminar about the Gulf of Aden. It is a very scary territory. We were informed about the past incidents that happened in this high-risk area. However, things have changed. There is an international organization (The Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa MSCHOA) that monitors the ships that go this route. However, like you said ‘I know it was unlikely that we are going to be hijacked but it does happen.’ It is better to be aware and knowledgeable about these things. We can never be so sure always.

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