A LUXURY cruise ship with 22 British tourists aboard survived an attack by Somali pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades yesterday as it rounded the Horn of Africa.
The 10,000-ton Seabourn Spirit came under fire at about 5.30am. The pirates approached in 25ft speedboats and shot at the ship with the grenade launcher and machineguns.
Terrified passengers watched as the pirates tried to get aboard — only to be repelled by crew members who set off what one described as a “loud bang”.
“They were firing the rifle and then fired the rocket launcher twice. One of the rockets certainly hit the ship — it went through the side of the liner into a passenger’s suite. The couple were in there at the time so it was a bit of an unpleasant experience.”
Mike Rogers, a Canadian passenger, said the captain tried to run down one of the speedboats before outmanoeuvring them. The captain did not hit the alarm, fearing passengers would be shot at if they dashed on deck.
The Seabourn Spirit, owned by the cruise giant Carnival, was on its way from Alexandria in Egypt to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. It offers the height of luxury, with huge suites, marble bathrooms and more than one crew member to each passenger. Cruises aboard the liner cost from �6,100 for a 16-day sail to �18,270 for an epic 46-day voyage.
The liner used a sonic blaster to foil the pirates. Developed by American forces to deter small boats from attacking warships, the non-lethal weapon sends out high-powered air vibrations that blow assailants off their feet. The equipment, about the size of a satellite dish, is rigged to the side of the ship.