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Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day, everybody, and l'shana tova, tikatevu to our Jewish readers! It's time for the nerdiest, weirdest, and most internet-driven fake holiday of the year (Pirate Day, I mean), so loosen up your vocal cords with some rum and start saying arrr!
Pirates / Crime / Cruises / Amazon Travel / → All Tags
This has not been the best summer for cruising, both on the ocean and in rivers as swine flu and pirates proliferate. It's been especially cruel to Aqua Expeditions, whose luxury riverboat M/V Aqua has fallen victim to Amazon River pirates twice in two weeks.
Around dawn this morning, the 20-some passengers onboard the Aqua were awoken by nine masked bandits wielded guns and hand grenades, who then bound passengers by their hands and feet and made off with their valuables when police arrived. Apparently the theives used bad weather and poor visibility to their advantage for the raid, overtaking two police officers who were stationed on the boat after the last ambush.
Pirates / Crime / Cruises / Amazon Travel / → All Tags
Although we'd love to believe that Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is the only noteworthy pirate of the last few years, the reality is that pirates are back in a big way, and an event this week proves that they aren't just confined to the treacherous waters off of Somalia.
On Sunday, the Aqua, a luxury river cruising boat just beginning a turn down the Amazon, was boarded and raided by six weapon-wielding bandits who robbed the vessel's 24 passengers of money and other valuables. Luckily that's all the pirates took as no cruisers were hurt. After returning to port in Iquitos, Peru, the passengers were sent home care of Aqua Expeditions, who also refunded them for the entire cruiseprices per person for the cruise began at $4,500and tried to mollify them by offering a free future cruise.
Worlds-Coolest-Pools / Disney World / Pools / Disney / Pirates / → All Tags
Last one in's a rotten egg! We're finding the best places in the world to stick our toes in this summer (or next winter) for our World's Coolest Pools map. Know of any pools we must check out? Let us know.
Without a cutesy shape or a benevolent aura, you'd never recognize this mega-pool as the domain of the Mouse. But we had to check out the Yacht and Beach Club combined pools after a tipster promised not only a sandy bottom but "a slide from a pirate ship." And you all know we have a weakness for pirate travel.
Geek Travel / Museums / Pirate Bay / Pirates / Sweden Travel / → All Tags
At least their handiwork will live on: As the creators of file-sharing website the Pirate Bay head off to prison, a Swedish museum will put its trusty server on display for the world to learn the wages of modern piracy.
The Tekniska Museet or National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm has added the server to an exhibit on intellectual property called "Inspiration Imitation," and since it's co-sponsored by the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property, we're guessing it's going to come out pro-IP.
While we were at home watching The Masters and overdosing on Peeps and chocolate bunnies, a dangerous hostage situation was unfolding but fortunately this one had a happy ending. Captain Richard Phillips was rescued from a group of Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia thanks to the incredible action of the US Navy.
The military hit the pirates with a surprise attack on Sunday, with snipers killing three of the buccaneers and taking one other pirate into custody. President Obama had issued the go ahead to use force if the captain was ever in "imminent danger," and apparently he was, as the pirates were holding an AK-47 to his back.
With so much travel news raining down on us, we don't always have time to give every story its own forecast. Here's more of the day's news, in brief.
· Hostage Situation: Somali pirates took over a U.S.-flagged ship near the Horn of Africa this morning capturing about 21 American crew members. However, the crew was able to regain control of their ship except their captain is still being held hostage. Story unfolding. [NY Post]
· Continental Airlines Switching to Star Alliance: Continental just received U.S. approval to join the Star Alliance. This alliance, which includes United Airlines and Lufthansa, will allow Continental to offer passengers access to more routes and better prices. So they say. Continental is currently a part of SkyOne which includes Delta/Northwest and KLM Airlines. After a 21-public comment period, Continental then can join the Star team. [Chicago Tribune]
· Kentucky Derby Travel for the Rich Only?: Hotel room rates in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby are averaging about $350 a night with the Hyatt Regency going for $1,130 a night. Reasonable or insane? [HotelChatter]
· Hotelicopter Is Kind of Real: One more from our sister site...The Hotelicopter is real in the sense that it's a hotel booking site, not an actual hotel. Oh. [HotelChatter]
· Ski Season Almost Over Dude: Lake Tahoe is closing up soon and LA Times gives you the closing dates for the ski resorts in the region. [LAT Daily Deal and Travel Blog]
Even though the Seychelles promises to become more affordable for the rest of us, we have a hard time even dreaming about a place so far away and so tropical. Every time we see a picture of its clear water and pristine beaches, we just remind ourselves that it's probably not going to happen. Well, we may start to stop dreaming about it for the time being, as apparently the pirates have discovered it too.
The Australian cruise ship MV Athena was steaming through the Gulf of Aden Tuesday night when as many as 30 smaller boats surrounded the vessel. Was it totally the biggest scary pirate assault ever? Not according to Classic International Cruises, which operates the Athena: The smaller boats turned out to be tuna fishermen, and the ocean liner "escaped" without incident.
Said a company spokeswoman:
The captain followed all security measures as far as readiness on board for any eventuality by placing fire hoses around the decks and continually liaised with all authorities.
It has been confirmed that the approaching small ships were a tuna fishing fleet.
But at least one passenger insists that the cruise line is staging a cover up and that the Athena was at risk. An unnamed Aussie contacted the Australian Associated Press from the ship, saying:
"Less than an hour later the master of the vessel, Captain Antonio Morais of Portugal, confirmed to listeners that two attacks by pirates had taken place."
Crew members used blasts from high-powered water cannon to drive back the pirates who clearly wanted to board the Athena, the woman said.
Either way, the Athena is probably out of harm's way: It's next stop is scheduled for Saturday in Port Victoria in the Seychelles, and the ship will wrap its 39-day trip on December 20 in Fremantle, Australia.
[Photo: Classic International Cruises]
Pirates / Pirate Travel / Dangerous Travel / Cruises / Nautica / → All Tags
On Sunday, the luxury cruise ship Nautica got closer to Somali pirates than any ocean liner since the Seabourn Spirit came under grenade attack in 2005. Though bandits fired eight shots at the Nautica, she managed to outrun her attackers, escaping any damage or injuries to the 684 passengers and 386 crew aboard.
How'd it go down? After spotting two small boats on an intercept course, the Nautica accelerated beyond its normal top speed of 20 knots (23 mph) and prepped its defensive long range acoustic device, a gizmo that channels a shrill sound loud enough to rupture eardrums and cause temporary vision loss. As one of the pirate skiffs closed to within 300 yards, a cruise line spokesman told the LA Times, eight shots were fired in the direction of the Nautica. The attackers broke off the assault after all the shots missed.
The next port of call for the Nautica is Salalah, Oman. The ship is on a 32-day voyage from Italy to Singapore, and it continues on to Muscat, which doesn't front the Gulf of Aden, on December 3. Until it gets there, you can help keep watch for further pirate attacks via the Nautica's on-board webcam.
· Pirates Fire at Cruise Ship Near Somalia [LAT]
· Somali Pirates Strike Again Near Nascent Tourist Hotspot [Jaunted]
[The Nautica in Kobe, Japan: Wikimedia]
These Somali pirates have hijacked everything from a freighter full of tanks to a megacruiser awash in oil. But the latest report out of the Gulf of Aden involves the soon-to-be-hot Yemeni island of Socotra: Bandits overwhelmed the MV Adina sometime in the past few days, Yemeni officials determined, after its shipment of steel didn't arrive on the island as planned on November 20.
Remote Socotra, which was featured in T magazine in 2007, is right in the middle of the pirate-friendly Gulf of Aden, far enough away from all other civilization that it has the most biological diversity on Earth after Hawaii and the Galapagos.
At the time of the T article, only about 2,500 tourists visited annually, though that was 10 times the number of visitors seen just a few years prior. With a UN plan for slow and sustainable development, Socotra is hoping to cash in on expanded tourism while keeping the local culture and environment intact. Sounds terrific, though we could do without the pirate assaults!
· Socotra Archipelago Conservation and Development Programme [Official Site]
· Somali Pirates Hijack Yemeni Cargo Ship [Reuters, via NYT]
· Keeping up with the Pirates [Jaunted]
[Photo of Socotra: UncleEddy]
If you're like us, you've been having a hell of a time lately keeping up with the rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia. Which supertanker did those guys nab? Whose navy frigate did bandits open fire on? What shipping lanes do we absolutely not want our cruise ship crossing?
Luckily the International Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit based in the UK, has put together a Live Piracy Map, which tracks the latest hijackings, abductions and assaults on the high seas. Predictably, the Gulf of Aden is awash in red Google Maps "pins," solidifying its spot as the world's most pirate-y body of water.
But despite the recent media obsession with the Horn of Africa, you're not necessarily safe elsewhere. The Straight of Malacca, between Malaysia and Indonesia, is still a hot spot, and the coast of Nigeria has its share of danger too. Look alive when sailing your yacht out of Lagos, sophistonauts!
· Live Piracy Map [ICC]
· Somali Bandits Strike Yet Again [Jaunted]
· Somali Bandits Still Sailing Weapons-Filled Tanker [Jaunted]