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CBI Travel Warning
River Cruise Ship Pirate Attacks

Pirate Attack Region Expanded to South America and Western Africa

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CBI Travel Warning
River Cruise Ship Pirate Attacks

Pirate Attack Region Expanded to South America and Western Africa


CBI Issues River Cruise Ship Pirate Warning

A Cruise Bruise Investigation (CBI) discovered a migration of pirate attack from the east Coast of Africa in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia and north of Madagascar to the west coast of Africa, south of the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands, off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea. As you can see in our photo slider, there have been significant changes in pirate attack locations from 2010 to 2016.

Given the number of cruise ships sailing to Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands this shift in geography presents new challenges for cruise ship travel from Europe to the west coast islands off Africa. The region has also increased risk for Amazon region river cruises in Peru and Brazil.

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.

January 31, 2016, 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.

On October 9, 2014 a deadly pirate attack took place aboard the cruise ship Golfinoh which 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.

In 2011, two notable pirate attacks took place on ships which had children aboard. August 8, 2011 a pirate attack took place on more than 150 people, who were robbed of their mobile phones, money and jewelry. The pirate attack was 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.

Earlier in 2011, on June 14, 2011, 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.

Back on August 4, 2009, the 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. Pirates also attacked 10 days earlier.

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 islands off Africa have 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.

Supporting Information & Resources:

  • 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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