Cruise liner outruns armed pirate boats
By CNNRadio's Matt Cherry and Amanda Moyer
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(CNN) -- A luxury cruise line will re-evaluate whether to offer future cruises off the coast of Somalia after pirates attempted to attack one of its ships early Saturday.
The pirates were in two small boats and were carrying machine guns and a rocket-propelled grenade when they attempted the attack on Seabourn Cruise Lines' "Spirit" about 5:35 a.m. local time Saturday, Deborah Natansohn, president of the cruise line, told CNNRadio.
The ship was carrying 150 passengers and a crew of about 160.
The ship, she said, immediately instituted its emergency response system. "The occupants of those boats did not succeed in boarding the ship and eventually turned away ... our captain and crew did a terrific job taking responsive action."
Passenger Mike Rogers of Vancouver, Canada, said the pirates were shooting and sending rockets at the boat. (Watch how cruise ship outran pirates -- 1:28)
"The captain tried to run one of the boats over, but they were small boats, about 25 feet long," he told CNNRadio affiliate CKNW in Vancouver.
"Each one had four or five people on it, and (the captain) said he was going to do anything to keep them from getting on board."
The captain, however, did not hit the alarm button to alert passengers of the emergency, Rogers said. "He announced it over the speakers because he was scared people would run up on deck, and he didn't want people on deck because they would have been shot."
The cruise ship eventually outran the pirates' boats, Natansohn said. One person suffered minor injuries, she said without elaborating.
"There's some minor damage done to the ship," Rogers said. "There's no water right now, for instance, in some places, and I believe one of the grenades actually went off in one of the cabins, but everyone on board is fine."
The ship is now en route to the Seychelles Islands, Natansohn said.
On Thursday, the United Nations' World Food Program warned that hijackings off the coast of Somalia were restricting the delivery of needed food assistance to the country.
"The southern Somali coastline is one of the most dangerous in the world," the WFP said on its Web site. "In recent months, WFP's operations in Somalia have been sabotaged by the hijackings of two vessels carrying relief food. Ship owners are now demanding armed escorts to travel in these waters."
Natansohn said efforts were under way Saturday to locate the pirates. "We have notified U.S., Canadian and Australian authorities because most of our passengers come from those three countries, as well as local authorities in Africa."
"Seabourn 'Spirit' has offered itineraries in that part of the world before, but we'll obviously be looking at the incident to determine what to do in the future," she said.
Rogers said, "We're always looking for adventure, but this is probably a little more than we would normally look for."
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