MSC Cruises has confirmed that MSC Melody was attacked by pirates near the Seychelles Islands on Saturday evening, April 25, 2009. The ship initiated avoidance procedures and quickly escaped the attack with no injuries to any of the approximately 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members on board.
The pirates approached the ship in a small speedboat firing automatic weapons at 7:35pm GMT while the ship was sailing 180 nautical miles from Port Victoria in the Seychelles. MSC Cruises immediately informed the Italian government foreign office (La Farnesina), the Maritime Security Center in London, and the Coordination Center for Security in Dubai.
According to Yahoo! News, "The ship's commander told Italian state radio on Sunday that six men in a small white speed boat approached the MSC Melody and opened fire 'like crazy' on Saturday night, but retreated after the Israeli security officers aboard the cruise ship returned fire." While it's unusual for a cruise ship to have armed guards on board, "Domenico Pellegrino, head of the Italian cruise line, said MSC Cruises hired the Israelis because they were the best trained security agents."
A military vessel from the international security forces in the region has been sent to escort MSC Melody as a precaution, and the ship is continuing to Aqaba, Jordan, on its scheduled itinerary.