Passengers on a luxury cruise were banned from taking part in any evening festivities for a period of 10 days due to a pirate threat.
The 104-day cruise, which departed from Sydney, Australia, cost its 1,900 passengers more than $35,000 each, according to The Telegraph.
Carolyne Jasinski was one of those passengers, and she wrote about the experience for News.com.au.
"No deck parties, no movies under the stars, no late-night outdoor bar hopping or pool dipping," she wrote. "No lights, no party atmosphere, no lapping up tropical breezes on their balconies. All around the ship, as the sun set, all curtains were drawn and all shutters closed."
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She added: "Bright lights, which normally signal the presence of the Sea Princess on the ocean, were dimmed or turned off altogether."
Nobody knew what was going on, and at first people were cracking jokes.
"Are we expecting an invasion of vampires?" Jasinski recalled one person saying. "Maybe they’re filming the next episode of From Dusk Til Dawn?"
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But it was no laughing matter. They were informed that the ship, the Sea Princess, was vulnerable to pirate attacks, particularly while cruising through the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.
In addition to the nighttime blackout, Jasinski and her fellow passengers had to undergo pirate drills, in which they practiced their response to an attack. When the drill alarm went off, all passengers returned to their cabins for a headcount.
People whose cabins were on the outside of the ship were instructed to lock their balcony doors as well as their cabin doors and hide in the hallway.
"The captain said we could outrun any pirate ships but just in case, officers were on watch 24/7 and fire hoses were at the ready on Deck Seven," Jasinski wrote. "This is where we normally took our daily stroll, and it’s the obvious place for pirates to board the ship."
There was also a sonic boom that could be used as a last resort.
While the ship was never attacked, Jasinski wrote that the trip was marked by a nervous energy.
"Once aware of and alerted to the prospect of pirates, we watched vessels more carefully ... A fishing boat was not looked at the same way. It was no longer an interesting speck on the horizon. We wondered what they were doing so far out at sea and whether there was something hiding behind it."
The fear resulted in a number of unwarranted calls to the bridge of the ship about suspicious boats.
"[The captain] had to ask passengers to stop calling and to trust in the officers who were on watch," Jasinski wrote.
A representative for the cruise company told The Telegraph that the ship never received any direct threats.
"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 representative said.