Whilst cruising on the Rhapsody earlier this year, I mused about going on the MSC Cruises cruise from Durban to Genoa (Italy)...but was concerned about getting around Somalia's pirates safely...and unfortuanately it seems my worries were well placed.
On the 26th April 2009, as the Italian cruiseliner Melody was making its way from Durban to Genoa and had sailed north of the Seychelles (about 800km east of Somalia), pirates fired with automatic weapons at the ship (which had some 1500 lives on board). After a few minutes they tried to put a ladder up and were starting to climb it, when Israeli private security on board the ship returned fire with pistols and aimed water hoses at the pirates. Passengers were ordered to their cabins and the lights on board the Melody were turned off. After some 20 minutes the pirates backed off.
A slightly different version is told by 2 Durban men (Don Cockerell from Umdloti and Derek O'Brien from Gillitts), who claim that they were seated on the lower deck, when a boat came alongside with 6 men dressed in black, and tried to hook a grappling hook onto the rail of the Melody. As the men threw deck chairs at the pirates, they responded by opening fire. Cockerell said: "My wife, Merrill, went to find the crew. She told them pirates were attacking the ship, and that's when they ran to raise the alarm." "It was frightening, and the adrenalin just kicked in and we started throwing chairs. We would throw chairs and duck to avoid the gunfire," said O'Brien. By the time the Melody's crew appeared the pirates had dissapeared.
Starlight cruises sells tickets for the MSC Sinfonia in South Africa.