Will pirates attack my ship?

How many pirates are there?

You have saved up for the trip of a lifetime. Your cruise will go into international waters and now you start to worry about pirates. There is reason to be concerned.

How bad is the situation?

Attacks on the seas went up by 39% worldwide reaching 406 cases. More then half of the raids have been the Somali pirates.

This trend has been going on for four years. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that last year there were 293 attacks reported. The last time the figures exceeded 400 cases was in 2003.

Statistics show that pirates hijacked 49 vessels worldwide and held 1,052 crew members for ransom last year.Last year there were 74 vessels fired upon. This year that has increased to 120 vessels. There have been eight crew members killed and 68 injured.

The Somali pirates were responsible for 217 of the global attacks. This is nearly double from last year's 111. Nigeria has had 28 attacks. South America has seen an increase from 14 attacks in 2008 to 37 attacks. Most of these occurred while vessels were at anchor or berthed in port.

Bangladesh had 17 attacks and 13 in the South China Sea which is the highest in five years. The Singapore Straits had six attacks in 2008 and that has increased to nine. Indonesia had less attacks this year. In 2008 they suffered 28 and this year that dropped to 15. The Malacca Straits only have two attacks this year, the same as in 2008.

Why is there such a rise in piracy? The analysts same that Somalia's approximately 20 years of lawlessness has fueled these acts of piracy. The IMB stated that the attacks were opportunistic in nature. Some pirates we paid multi-million-dollar ransoms.

What is being done?

The IMB states that the international flotilla including European and U.S. warships had prevented many hijackings. In the last quarter of 2009 Somali pirates changed focus from the Gulf of Aden where international navies patrol. They are now appearing in the unpatrolled east coast of Somalia where 33 attacks were reported since October and 13 ships seized.

Discuss your plans with your travel adviser and perhaps choose to cruise an area where there is a lower risk of piracy.