Pirates on speedboat target cruise ship carrying British holidaymakers

A cruise ship carrying hundreds of British passengers has been targeted by pirates in the Indian Ocean.

Holidaymakers on board The Spirit of Adventure had a formal dinner interrupted to be told pirates were approaching. The 350 guests and 200 crew of the ship, operated by British company Acromas which also owns Saga and the AA, were asked to go to the main lounge and sit on the floor until the danger had passed.

The speedboat carrying the pirates came within "several hundred metres", said the cruise ship's spokesman Paul Green.

Passengers on the two-week cruise, costing 2,000 a head, were 100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania, when the drama unfolded on Wednesday night.

Mr Green said: "The ship spotted on its radar a small vessel approaching it at speed and so a set of well-rehearsed procedures were put in place."

Guests were in the lounge for 45 minutes before the all-clear was given once the pirate ship was 10 nautical miles away.

"It was within close range for 10 minutes and came within several hundred metres," said Mr Green. "There was no attempt to board and there was no firing at the ship." He said it appeared the pirates wanted to "check out" the vessel.

There are not thought to be any recorded incidents of pirates trying to board cruise ships.`