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As pirate attacks draw headlines, cruises are taking measures to steer you clear in the world’s most pirated waters.

On a quiet
night in Southeast Asia’s Malacca Straits, John Burnett went below deck to turn
on his yacht’s VHF radio. Suddenly, a jolt threw him. He pulled himself up to
the deck and saw the ghostly silhouette of another boat tied up to his—and two
men with assault rifles pointed at his head. It was a modern-day pirate attack.

Cargo
ships are no longer the sole targets on the world’s most pirated waters. Kidnapping passengers for millions
in ransom can be more lucrative than hijacking ships for the cargo’s value. Fortunately,
the percentage of attacks is minuscule; most cruise routes are not affected; and
small boats and yachts are more vulnerable than increasingly well-fortified
cruise ships.

In fact,
cruise lines have taken many proactive steps to ensure their passengers’
safety. Lanie Fagan,
director of communications at Cruise
Lines International Association (CLIA),
says that all members have implemented anti-piracy measures. Most companies are
reluctant to share specifics, but Crystal Cruises, for instance, hired
additional security professionals and enhanced its contact with regional naval
authorities and Combined Task Force 151, an anti-piracy patrol launched by 20
nations in 2009.

To determine the world’s most
pirated waters, we pooled data from CLIA, the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), and Maritime and Underwater Security
Consultants, with an emphasis on the more trafficked
waterways. According
to the PRC, 2011 has
already seen more than 240 attacks and more than 360 hostage situations. PRC’s Twitter
feed
reveals frequent
news of pirate attacks, while the International Chamber of Commerce’s crime division updates a piracy map daily. Even
so, the data remains imperfect as a ship may choose not to report an incident.

Pirate attacks
occur everywhere from the Philippines to Peru, but the waters around Somalia and
points south have the worst reputation. In
January 2011, pirates chased the Zanzibar-bound Spirit of Adventure, and
the captain huddled all 350 passengers in the ship’s center. The boat outran the pirates, and
the passengers returned home safely.

Still,
it’s independent yachtsmen who need to be especially wary of the pirate threat.
“The idyllic
anchorages and ports in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, the Seychelles,
Mauritius, Yemen—once must-stops for yachtsmen—are now avoided because they’re
in pirated waters,” says John Burnett, whose harrowing experience in Southeast
Asia led him to write Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy
and Terror on the High Seas
. His book serves as a cautionary
tale. “I was one of the lucky ones,” Burnett
says. “I survived.”

World's Most Pirated Waters

As pirate attacks draw headlines, cruises are taking measures to steer you clear in the world’s most pirated waters.

On a quiet
night in Southeast Asia’s Malacca Straits, John Burnett went below deck to turn
on his yacht’s VHF radio. Suddenly, a jolt threw him. He pulled himself up to
the deck and saw the ghostly silhouette of another boat tied up to his—and two
men with assault rifles pointed at his head. It was a modern-day pirate attack.

Cargo
ships are no longer the sole targets on the world’s most pirated waters. Kidnapping passengers for millions
in ransom can be more lucrative than hijacking ships for the cargo’s value. Fortunately,
the percentage of attacks is minuscule; most cruise routes are not affected; and
small boats and yachts are more vulnerable than increasingly well-fortified
cruise ships.

In fact,
cruise lines have taken many proactive steps to ensure their passengers’
safety. Lanie Fagan,
director of communications at Cruise
Lines International Association (CLIA),
says that all members have implemented anti-piracy measures. Most companies are
reluctant to share specifics, but Crystal Cruises, for instance, hired
additional security professionals and enhanced its contact with regional naval
authorities and Combined Task Force 151, an anti-piracy patrol launched by 20
nations in 2009.

To determine the world’s most
pirated waters, we pooled data from CLIA, the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), and Maritime and Underwater Security
Consultants, with an emphasis on the more trafficked
waterways. According
to the PRC, 2011 has
already seen more than 240 attacks and more than 360 hostage situations. PRC’s Twitter
feed
reveals frequent
news of pirate attacks, while the International Chamber of Commerce’s crime division updates a piracy map daily. Even
so, the data remains imperfect as a ship may choose not to report an incident.

Pirate attacks
occur everywhere from the Philippines to Peru, but the waters around Somalia and
points south have the worst reputation. In
January 2011, pirates chased the Zanzibar-bound Spirit of Adventure, and
the captain huddled all 350 passengers in the ship’s center. The boat outran the pirates, and
the passengers returned home safely.

Still,
it’s independent yachtsmen who need to be especially wary of the pirate threat.
“The idyllic
anchorages and ports in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, the Seychelles,
Mauritius, Yemen—once must-stops for yachtsmen—are now avoided because they’re
in pirated waters,” says John Burnett, whose harrowing experience in Southeast
Asia led him to write Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy
and Terror on the High Seas
. His book serves as a cautionary
tale. “I was one of the lucky ones,” Burnett
says. “I survived.”

AfricaSnapshots / Amyn Nasser / Alamy

World's Most Pirated Waters

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