The 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager, currently sailing through the region on an around-the-world cruise, is skipping visits to Mombasa and Zanzibar. Those ports would have taken it near waters off the Horn of Africa that have been the scene of several recent pirate incidents.
Instead, the ship is giving the area a wide berth. The ship made the last minute changes to the itinerary due to worries about pirates in the vicinity. The ship's captain, Dag Dvergastein, announced the change Saturday after the ship pulled out of the port of Praslin in the Seychelles Islands. The ship's cruise director wrote in his blog "For people back home, watching the news you may have seen that there has been a surge in pirate activity between the Seychelles and Kenya which would have been right in the direction we would be heading. Now we do, in fact, have several special security people on board but we don't want to increase our chances of having to use them. We want them to just enjoy their cruise!"
Piracy off the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean has intensified over the past year with more attacks against a wider range of targets and over a wider area extending hundreds of miles off shore. The daring attack on the 1,062-passenger MSC Melody in April 2009, in which pirates with automatic weapons fired upon and attempted to board the ship, occurred well off the Somali coast.
A spokesperson for Regent Seven Seas said the Voyager has added calls this week in Port Louis, Mauritius and Reunion Island for the missed calls in Kenya and Tanzania.