The operator of a luxury liner carrying 437 passengers has hosed down reports that pirates tried to board the ship off the coast of Somalia.
Reports said more than 29 pirate boats surrounded the MV Athena, which is carrying 200 Australian women and 187 men, as it passed through the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday night local time.
A couple on board the Athena, which is due to dock in Fremantle on December 20, were reported saying they saw 29 small boats with up to six pirates on each boat approach the liner.
They said crew members had used water cannons to stop the pirates from boarding the ship.
But Grant Hunter, Australian managing director of Classic International Cruises, which operates the ship, today told ABC radio that no pirates had tried to board.
Mr Hunter acknowledged that as the Athena pulled up to the southern end of the Gulf of Aden, several tuna fishing skiffs loomed "some half a kilometre to three kilometres away" as the ship queued to enter a secure port area.
The Athena was en route from the French Riviera city of Nice and had picked up passengers in Rome.
"Under normal international security regulations, all the ships in that particular grouping put their fire hoses on board (and) activated those," Mr Hunter said.
"The crew were spraying water off the side of the ship but at no stage did any of the skiffs attempt to get near the vessel, board the vessel.
"They weren't aggressive to the vessel."
Mr Hunter said that as part of routine security, the captain did ask passengers to remain in their cabins for about 90 minutes until the ship cleared the queue.
He said that it was difficult to understand how the reports emanated, because passengers had been eyeing the tuna boats from afar with binoculars - and vice versa.
"I don't think that indicates they were boarding," Mr Hunter said.
"(You can) rest assured (that) any relatives or friends who have loved ones on board (that) there is no need to be concerned."
Mr Hunter said the Athena was now on schedule to arrive in the Seychelles this weekend. It would then cruise to Mauritius before steaming to Fremantle.
There have been about 100 attacks on ships off the Somali coast this year.
Forty vessels were hijacked and 13 are still in the hands of pirates along with more than 250 crew members.
The Gulf of Aden lies between Somalia and Yemen and is notorious for piracy.
On Sunday another luxury cruise liner, the Oceania Nautica - which was carrying 50 Australians and some New Zealanders - came under fire as it passed through the area.
On that occasion, the pirates were aboard two small boats fitted with outboard motors, but the captain of the Nautica accelerated the cruise liner and managed to outrun the speedboats.
- WA Today with AAP