Somali Pirates Stalk Cruise Ship in Indian Ocean

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Passengers decked out for a black tie dinner on a British cruise ship on the Indian Ocean were told to hide below decks when a speed boat allegedly carrying Somali pirates came alongside the ship.

"It was a really terrifying ordeal," says passenger Susie Browne, 73, to the Telgraph. "They told us to sit on the floor and the doors were barricaded. We were told they had spotted pirates two miles behind us. We were told to keep our heads down in case they shot us through the windows."

The 348-passenger Spirit of Adventure eventually lost the pirates and dinner was resumed. Naval authorities were alerted.

"The Spirit of Adventure was followed by a suspect vessel for about an hour," tells a spokesman for Saga to the news outlet.

"After guests were moved down to the middle of the ship the captain sped up to full speed and the vessel went away. We think it was scouting out the ship."

Most of the passengers were said to have remained calm throughout the incident, reports the Guardian, and gave the Australian captain Frank Allica a standing ovation when he entered the main dining room after dinner was resumed, singing "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow."

After stopping in Zanzibar, the cruise ship is scheduled to stop in Dar es Salaam, Tanga and then Mombassa, Kenya where the cruise finishes on January 17.

Discovery News
reports as of January 10, 2011 Somali pirates have taken hold of 25 vessels and 586 hostages, many of which are on oil tankers and container ships. There were 430 reported attacks in 2009, but last year's numbers have not yet been released.

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