For the second time in only 10 days, Aqua Expeditions' M/V Aqua, which operates cruises along the Amazon River, was overtaken by pirates early Tuesday morning. Twenty guests hailing from Britain, the U.S., Spain and Australia were bound and their valuables stolen. The passengers, reportedly, were not physically injured.
The luxury ship, which operates $5,000-per-person cruises, was heading up the Ucayali River in the Peruvian Amazon to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve when it was overtaken by the pirates who overpowered two police officers that had been assigned to the ship after the last attack.
The robbers fled with cameras, cash, jewelery and designer clothes amid a reported shoot-out with police who had been radioed. Some of the valuables were later recovered in the pirates' jungle camp.
Aqua Expeditions released this statement Thursday, which includes an itinerary change for the vessel:
While cruising on the Amazon early Tuesday morning, August 4, the m/v Aqua was boarded by six unknown persons who robbed the passengers of valuables. Neither passengers nor crew were harmed. A similar incident occurred on July 26.
CEO of Aqua Expeditions Francesco Galli Zugaro has been meeting this week with senior government officials, including the Minister of Tourism, Head of Police, and Department of Defense, all of whom have pledged to take all necessary actions to guarantee the safety of the Peruvian tourism industry and visitors to the country.
The M/V Aqua
"This incident is of national importance as tourism is a vital activity in the region," commented Martin Perez, the Peruvian Minister of Tourism, who has pledged his full support in resolving this issue. "The Amazon region of Peru is safe for travelers and we cannot allow these incidents to deter their holidays and affect the integrity of the tourism sector," he added.
As a result of this, both the Coast Guard and National Police have confirmed that the Aqua and other vessels in the region will have permanent escorts for a period of time until a long term plan is implemented to have more presence along the boat's route. In addition, the Aqua and other vessels will have security personnel on board.
The Coast Guard has also committed to immediately implement a mobile patrol station half way through the itinerary with several additional patrol boats. This additional presence will further guarantee security of the area.
As an additional and extended measure of security the Aqua as of this Saturday will change its itinerary to avoid the area of the past incident. "This second attack has truly shocked and saddened us," said Galli-Zugaro. "We want to reassure our guests and clients that all measures are being taken by the government to ensure the safety and security of the region. We are thankful for their proactive measures and continue to work closely with them to avoid any such future incidents. Our operations are continuing as normal, with our first priority being the safety of our passengers and crew."