Lorraine Putze
had signed up for a
relaxing holiday when
she boarded a cruise ship
in South Africa.
What she got was a
desperate escape from a
group of Somalian
pirates, a flurry of gunfire
and the scariest hours of
her life.
The 66-year-old
Papamoa woman was on
the trip of a lifetime last
month with her sister
when the pirate raid
happened in the Indian
Ocean off the coast of
Somalia while she was on
the Italian cruise ship
MSC Melody.
She had been on a
safari in South Africa and
was part way through a
cruise around the South
African coast, having
been to Mauritius,
Reunion Island and the
Seychelles.
Her tour group of 42
New Zealanders, was part
of the 1500 people on
board when the pirates
struck at 11.30pm on
Anzac Day.
She was in the shower
when the attack began.
``I could hear people
running, I could hear
banging. Then my sister
came running into the
room and said'There's
pirates! We're being
attacked by pirates!'
``I thought they were
having me on because I'd
gone to bed early.''
Ms Putze quickly
worked out that her sister
was telling the truth, and
watched as two New
Zealand men dashed
outside to see what was
going on.
``They shot out the
door to have a look and
they hit the deck. One
English guy got hit in the
leg by a bullet and one of
the crew got grazed on the
face.''
A Welsh couple by the
pool saw the pirates and
retaliated.
``They threw plastic
chairs at them ... and
that's when the gunshots
started,'' Ms Putze said.
A loudspeaker
announcement told
everyone to stay locked in
their cabins and to turn
the lights off.
``I was being nosy,
peeping through
portholes round the
corner, and I could see the
flares from the gunshots,''
Ms Putze said.
She said the drama
continued for about 1 1/2
hours, and she was
terrified.
``It said 'No Smoking'
in the cabins, and my
sister told me I was
smoking her out,'' she
said.
Despite the cruise
ship's return fire scaring
the pirates off, passengers
remained in fear for
another few hours.
``They never told us
that they had outrun the
pirates or scared them
off,'' Ms Putze said.
``So many people were
still awake, scared stiff,
because they never
announced it.''
Eventually Ms Putze
rang her tour manager,
who confirmed the drama
was over.
The cruise ship was so
far off the coast of Somalia
_ 1000 nautical miles _
there was no fear of pirate
attacks, so Ms Putze never
considered they might be
a target.
``They weren't actually
expecting them to strike
there but they think they
were hiding in some
islands there and there
may have been some
inside information. We
weren't really in the
danger area.''
The rest of the cruise
was abbreviated _ their
cruise ship had to divert
805km around the area
affected by pirates,
excursions on land were
cut short, and the group
missed out on visiting the
Egyptian city of Safaga.
The cruise finished in
Genoa, Italy, and Ms
Putze returned to New
Zealand on Sunday.
Despite her experience
with pirates, Ms Putze
said she would still go on
another cruise.
``I just wouldn't go to
that area because the
pirates aren't anywhere
else.''