Ship’s captain asks guests disembark to avoid pirates

The captain of a German cruise ship plans to take drastic measures to save his passengers from pirates off the coast of Somalia, having them disembark in Yemen and picking them up later in Dubai, he told radio broadcaster NDR on Tuesday.

Ship's captain asks guests disembark to avoid pirates
The 'MS Columbus.' Photo: DPA

The “MS Columbus” belongs to the fleet of Hapag-Lloyd-Kreuzfahrten, a subsidiary of travel company TUI, and is currently on a round-the-world trip, NDR reported. But because the waters off the Horn of Africa have been plagued by pirate attacks in the last several months, the captain requested protection from the German government for that stretch of the ship’s journey.

His request was denied, so now he plans to avoid danger to the luxury liner’s 246 guests in the infamous waters by asking them to disembark in Yemen, fly to Dubai – where they would stay in the city’s famous luxury hotels – and board the ship again in nearby Oman. From there the ship would go on to Singapore, the captain told NDR.

The “MS Columbus” began its journey less than two weeks ago from the Italian coast.

Just last week the German navy thwarted an attack on a four-star cruise ship in the Gulf of Oman, according to reports from website of newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

The German government has reiterated its calls for action against the pirates operating along the coast of Somalia, with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying this month that the country needed to act urgently.

The German Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, is set to vote in December on whether their troops will participate in an EU mission to hit the high seas before the end of the year. The government is trying to determine how troops can play a role in light of international laws, which separate police and military actions. EU officials have said that pirates must be tried by authorities in the nation where the highjacked ship is registered.