The flash of light flew by our cabin window long after the sun had set.
Any happenings in the Red Sea were far from our minds as Herb and I were watching Lawrence of Arabia, hoping to finally finish the epic film we had started before visiting Wadi Rum. But when I spotted a light on the water that vanished as fast as it had appeared, we instantly pressed “pause” and headed out on the verandah.
The light was coming from a small boat or zodiac that appeared to be stopping by our ship before returning to a “mothership” in the distance. Herb grabbed his zoom lens and spotted the ship’s name. A quick Google search revealed that it was a supply ship. “That must be the extra security Regent is bringing on board for the Gulf of Aden,” Herb figured out.
The Gulf of Aden lies between the Red Sea and Arabian Sea, a notorious body of water where Somali pirates first began threatening ship traffic in 2005. Over the years, cruise ships have developed anti-piracy programs to keep passengers safe when traveling through the Gulf of Aden’s troubled waters. Regent’s additional security team, delivered in the dark of night, was one of those measures. The next morning, however, when we saw the delightful Captain Patruno having breakfast and asked him about the supply ship, he broke into a broad smile. “You saw nothing!” he laughed.
Later that day, the ship’s cruise director conducted a piracy drill. We stood in our cabin’s corridor, where access doors on both ends of the hallway had been closed, and listened to instructions in case of an emergency. Code words would be delivered three times over the public address system. We would close our curtains and turn off the lights. Everyone would gather in the nearest corridor. The Regent staff and crew clearly knew what to do. “We’ve got this,” was my takeaway from the experience.
But truth be told, I found it even more comforting knowing what I had witnessed the night before.
Cruising the Red Sea
We sailed the Red Sea for two days before reaching the Gulf of Aden. Ship’s activities were in full swing, including galley tours and new lectures by Middle East expert Hassan Eltaher. Herb and I were out early, walking the track that wraps around the Voyager’s top deck. With smooth seas and warm, arid temperatures, mornings were especially beautiful on this crystalline body of water that is anything but red!
The Voyager made it through the Gulf of Aden without incident, continuing on for two more days to the Arabian Sea and our first port in Oman. The days flowed one into the next, with only a shift in weather to mark the time. The air began turning balmy and humid, and the wind wreaked havoc on the top deck, requiring the track to be closed for a while. Our walking venue became the pool deck, where white towels tucked into chaise pads billowed like ghosts on Halloween and several pads broke loose as the wind carried them along.
I’ll never know when the security team left the Voyager. Herb and I checked periodically to see if we could spot the mysterious mothership hovering somewhere in the sea. I imagine they headed back to another cruise ship in the Red Sea. Or maybe they stayed on until Oman, joining a ship doing the reverse route through the Gulf of Aden.
Either way, one thing is certain. They made their getaway as secretly as they arrived, under the cover of darkness.