This is not what you want to hear when you embark on a round the world cruise. Some 1,900 passengers on the Sea Princess cruise ship experienced a terrifying dusk-to-dawn blackout and anti-piracy drills, as the captain feared an attack by pirates.

Writer tells of her experience on the Sea Princess

Carolyn Jasinski, a passenger and travel writer who experienced the 104-day cruise from Sydney, Australia to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, wrote about the unsettling experience. She wrote that Captain Gennaro Arma ordered various bans, including no deck parties, no late night dips in the pool and no outdoor bar hops on the ship during the dusk to dawn hours.

She said at dusk the Sea Princess became a “ghost ship,” with all the lights either turned off or dimmed.

According to Jasinski, that wasn’t all, as compulsory pirate drills were held to prepare the passengers and crew in case of an actual pirate attack. In those drills, passengers had to sit on the floor and hang on to the handrails, just in case the ship had to make a rapid maneuver to escape pirate ships. In the event of an actual attack, passengers were drilled to lock the door to their cabin, as well as balcony doors and to shelter in the ship’s passageways.

Conde Nast reports that passengers on the Sea Princess also watched a documentary about pirate attacks during the drills.

Piracy still a major threat on the open seas

According to Captain Gennaro Arma, piracy is still a major threat on the open seas, especially in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden.

The captain said he wanted to prepare both the passengers and his crew, reminding them that the threat was real.

According to Jasinski’s essay, the Sea Princess is fully equipped with all necessary tools to elude and fight off incoming pirates, including officers on watch duty 24 hours a day, fire hoses and even a sonic boom to blast the pirates off their incoming ladders.

She added the captain had told her of his confidence that the cruise ship could also outrun the pirates.

Fortunately there was no real risk from pirates to the cruise ship and its passengers and crew. However Jasinski did say tensions were high during the 10-day blackout period, but in a weird way also exciting. She did say once they were aware of the dangers, they watched passing vessels more closely. In fact this led to so many passengers calling the captain about ships they had spotted, he eventually had to tell them to stop.

An 'abundance of caution' led to the drills

A spokesman for the cruise operator spoke about the incident to the Telegraph, saying all measures taken were out of an abundance of caution and not a response to any specific pirate threat. The spokesman added that the drills and blackouts are normal for international shipping in that region.