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Amazon Discovery
River Cruise Ship Pirate Attack

Delfin Amazon Cruises' $20,000 in Pillaged Booty July 13 2016

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Amazon Discovery
River Cruise Ship Pirate Attack

Delfin Amazon Cruises' $20,000 in Pillaged Booty July 13 2016


CBI Issues River Cruise Ship Pirate Warning

On Thursday, July 13, 2016 around 0300 hours, while most passengers were asleep, pirates boarded Delfin Amazon Cruises’ Amazon Discovery cruise ship and escaped with more than $20,000 in pillaged booty from passengers and crew.

Amazon Discovery was in the Loreto region, near the Huaysi village in the Fernando Lores District of the Maynas province.

The cruise ship had 52 passengers aboard 25 Peruvians, 21 Americans, six Australians and two people from New Zealand when the pirates using a small power boat came along side Amazon Discovery and boarded the river cruise ship. The pirates were reportedly from the Los pirates del rio’ criminal gang.

First Hand Account of Attack

A passenger who was aboard Amazon Discovery during the attack, gave us this account. "I was on Amazon Discovery on July 13 when it was attacked. It was a 3 day cruise on its first day. There were no warnings by Delphin, the boats operator, The Peruvian Government or the US State Department.

There was no security provided and there were numerous ingress points that were not secured or locked. There were no peep holes in the cabin door. Other luxury Amazon River cruise companies have security and a green turista boat accompanying their boats since 2009.

The boat was moored to the shore and contacting the shore with a removable ships ladder on the bow. We were sitting ducks in the middle of nowhere with help being at least 3 to 4 hours away. We did mention as we retired for the evening that not being underway or stopping in a remote location was a very big mistake.

The attack began at approximately 3:30 am and none of the passengers mentioned hearing any gunshots. I believe we were the one of the first staterooms hit on the first floor but the pirates were simultaneously on both floors in a very organized manner. We believe that they were 8 pirates armed with sidearms, 9 mm auto's, .38's and knifes mostly working in teams of 2.

We were wakened by a very loud knocking or banging by an English speaking crew member that we needed to open the door, The English speaking crewmen came in first and positioned himself between the bed and the safe and stated all the pirates wanted items of value and cash.

The cruise director stood in the doorway and was on the phone and she was completely dressed and very calm. The crew member with her was in a t-shirt and looked half dressed and was visibly shaken. She entered the room and motioned for the pirate to cover his face better with his wrap around scarf type mask. She left unaccompanied and went to the stateroom next to ours in order remove a passengers wedding ring with soap that she carried with her. She also opened any safe that proved difficult with a pass key!

The pirate that entered our room was armed with a .38 revolver, was taller and lighter skinned than indigenous peoples and had a slim build. He went directly to the safe, which was opened and took all the cash and money clip put in a fanny pack positioned in front and moved to the desk and took our sell phones and the ships phone and left. He didn't look for anything else in our room because we decided not to bring any jewelry or valuables.

In other rooms they searched until they found what they were looking for. The baggage, room and ship seemed completely cased by these pirates. The other pirates were shorter had darker complexions, wore knit ski masks and had back packs. They looked to be in mid 20's. Most passengers believe that the attack was very much an inside job. If the crew was locked up below deck than how did they get out?

The boat remained in position in the same spot where the attack occurred, completely unsecured and the crew did not arm themselves or looked overly concerned about our tenuous position. I implored the crew to secure the ship and head back to Iquitos and safety, which they didn't heed.

The fist help arrived at around 6:30 am by boat and where local police, the stayed 15 minutes and left stating it wasn't their jurisdiction, leaving us without security. Around 12:30 or 1;00 pm the Peruvian Coast Guard showed up and escorted us to Iquitos. Finally around 3:00 pm we disembarked for airport. The replacement value of cell phones, laptops, I pads, jewelry, wedding bands, engagement rings, watches and cash is probably approaching $100,000 total for the 30 passengers.

We were offered no assistance from the US State Department or Embassy and Delta Airlines charged us greatly to leave early and offered no assistance after being hijacked by pirates at gunpoint in the middle of the night in a foreign country with all of our cash, credit cards and phones stolen."

This is the second documented pirate attack on a river cruise ship in the region this year.

January 31, 2016 - Itaya River Peru Pirate Attack

A gang of pirates boarded an Amazon region restaurant riverboat near the Peruvian city of Iquitos.The men pulled up alongside the cruise ship in a canoe and threatened the passengers with a revolver and knives before escaping with about $3166 in cash, jewelry, credit cards and passports on Saturday, January 31, 2016 . They also took the boat’s engine and fuel before making their escape up the Itaya river.

October 9, 2014 Pirate Attack - 1 Passenger Murdered

The cruise ship Golfinoh was sailing the Amazon region Itaya River to Iquitos, Peru. A passenger who was a police officer, Julio Cesar Solano Padilla, who happened to be aboard the boat, tried to defend the passengers. Padilla was shot and killed, one assailant was killed and seven passengers were wounded.

August 8, 2011 Pirate Attack on Ferry

More than 150 people were robbed of their mobile phones, money and jewelry, during a pirate attack on a Amazon region Solimoes River ferry in Brazil. Armed pirates in masks swam up to the ferry boat, boarded it and took the passengers and crew as hostages.

June 14, 2011 River Boat Pirate Attack

Pirates in small motorboats approached an Amazon region passenger vessel, firing into the air. Once aboard, the pirates reportedly threatened to execute some of the estimated 140 adult and child passengers during an attack that last for two hours. The pirate group may have been part of the Black River Pirates crime group.

August 4, 2009 MV Aqua River Pirate Attack

In an early morning raid, Aqua Expeditions' MV Aqua Amazon region river cruise ship was boarded by pirates armed with machine guns, attacking 28 passengers on Ucayali River in Peru taking cash, cameras and jewelry. Also attacked 10 days earlier.

Who cruises the Amazon Region?

Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, Avalon Waterways, Aqua Expeditions, Lindblad Expeditions including cruises aboard M/V Aqua, M/V Aria, Delfin I /, Delfin II, Amatista, Turmalina, Esmeralda, Aquamarina - Turquesa, Queen Violet, M/V Cattleya, La Estrella Amazonica, M/V Zafiro, M/V Phytelephas and M/V Spondias.

Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2016 Peru Cases

June 26, 2016 - Posn: 12:01S – 077:11W, Callao Anchorage, Peru. Robbers boarded an anchored bulk carrier and escaped with ship’s stores unnoticed. The theft was discovered by the duty crew during routine rounds at the forecastle. Incident was reported to the Port Authorities and Police through the local agents.

April 21, 2016 - Posn: 12:01.34S – 077:13.32W, Callao Anchorage No.12, Peru. Deck watch keepers on routine rounds on board a product tanker noticed a robber attempting to break into the forecastle store. OOW informed, alarm raised, fog horn sounded and crew mustered. Seeing the alerted crew the robber escaped. Nothing reported stolen

March 23, 2016 - Posn: 12:01S – 077:12W, Callao Anchorage No.1, Peru. Two robbers wearing face masks boarded an anchored vehicle carrier preparing for berthing operations. Duty AB on routine rounds noticed some movements near the forecastle store and reported it to the OOW. Master immediately mustered the crew and asked them to investigate. As the crew approached the forecastle they noticed two robbers jumping overboard with stolen ship’s stores. The crew notified the Master that the robbers were wearing a uniform which resembled the shore watchman’s uniform. Indent reported to Harbor Master.

February 3, 2016 0200 LT: Posn: 12:00S - 077:12W, Callao Port Anchorages, Peru. Seven robbers in two speedboats came alongside a product tanker. Two robbers boarded the vessel but were spotted by the alert crew resulting in the robbers escaping without stealing anything.

West Coast Africa Piracy Rocketing

Piracy has recently become an increasing problem in the Gulf of Guinea on the west coat of Africa, as pirate attacks on the east coast near Somalia and the Horn of Africa have decreased to rare occurrences.

Since 2011 over 30 ships have been hijacked and 100 sailors have been kidnapped, with Nigeria, which is the largest nation in the Gulf of Guinea, becoming the most pirated nation in the world beating out Somali pirates in East Africa.

The West coast of Africa has been largely been viewed as the safe coastal region for cruise ships which have popular European itinerary stops to the Grand Cayman Islands and the Cape Verde Islands further south. The Cape Verde Islands are significantly closer to the new pirate alley hot spot of the Gulf of Guinea, perhaps too close as our Gulf of Guinea pirate attack map indicates.

United Kingdom and U.S. Travel Warnings

Piracy and armed robbery at sea guidance in the United Kingdom does not acknowledge any piracy threat for South America at all on their UK GOV Help for British Nationals Overseas Guidance website. The web site says only, "If you’re traveling in your own yacht or boat you should be aware that piracy and armed robbery at sea remains a risk, particularly in the following areas: the Indian Ocean, particularly off the coast of the Horn of Africa/Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Guinea in west Africa and Some parts of south east Asia, particularly the Malacca Straits."

Likewise, there are no travel warnings on the U.S. State Department website for Peru and Brazil for 2015 and 2016. The only travel warning in South America is for Venezuela at the northern tip of the continent, nowhere near the Amazon river cruises or coastal areas off Peru where 2016 pirate attacks on ships have taken place.

Given pirate attacks reported on the International Chamber of Commerce website Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2016 for the Amazon region and off the coast of South America, particularly in Peru, the lack of warnings by the governments of the United Kingdom and U.S is surprising and negligent.

Even on Wikipedia, the incidents of river cruise ship pirate attacks in South America is ignored.

Cruise Bruise Investigates Issues Warning

All cruise ships and tour vessels traveling in or around the central South American continent including Peru and Brazil, as well as the Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of Africa, need to be aware and stay vigilant when traveling in these regions.

Other Notable Pirate Attacks

However, to date, the worst pirate attack in the modern times was in the Golden Triangle region of Asia on October 5, 2011 in the Mekong River called the "Mekong River massacre". The "Golden Triangle", is known for drug trafficking of heroin as an international law enforcement problem.

A Chinese cargo ship hauling 900,000 amphetamine pills worth more than 3 million dollars, was attacked and hijacked and 13 crewmen were killed. The hijackers were later caught and executed, by the Chinese government in 2012.

December 5, 2001 Sir Peter Blake Murder By Pirates

Sir Peter Blake, 53, New Zealand yachtsman, who led his country to successive victories in the America's Cup, was shot and killed by pirates known as "the water rats" on December 5, 2001, while monitoring global warming and pollution for the United Nations aboard his yacht, Seamaster.

The attack took place while anchored off Macapá, Brazil around 9 pm, when a group of six to eight armed, masked robbers wearing balaclavas and crash helmets boarded the Seamaster. The pirates stole a 15 hp outboard motor and some watches from the crew.

Supporting Information & Resources:

  • Pirate Attack Maps 2010 to 2016
  • U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts and Warnings
  • GOVUK - Peru Travel Advice
  • Wikipedia River Pirate Attacks
  • Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2016

  • CBI Pirate Attack Investigations

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