Pirates have been terrorizing the Seven Seas since the first boats began to cross the oceans in search of new lands. But whilst Johnny Depp swashbuckling his way across the Caribbean may make for blockbuster magic, the truth about modern pirates is not quite so romantic.
The pirates of today have swapped their wooden legs and parrots for AK-47s and grenade launchers. They have also developed a fearsome reputation for taking crew members hostage and using violence to achieve their aims.
All in all, they are exactly the sort of people you want to avoid at all costs during your travels. To do this successfully you should start by familiarizing yourself with these international pirate hotspots.
The soaring number of pirate incidents off the Somali coast have caused headlines around the world in recent years. 54% of all pirate incidents in the world in 2011 occurred off the coast of Somalia according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
Pirates in these waters are indiscriminate in choosing their victims, with anything from cargo ships to luxury cruise liners and private yachts being targeted.
They have been known to venture out hundreds of miles from the shore so that even the waters off the idyllic Seychelles are no longer considered safe. This was highlighted by the case of British couple Rachel and Paul Chandler, who decided to sail from the Seychelles to Tanzania in October 2009 when they were captured by pirates. It took 13 months and a $848,752 ransom to free them.
The fact that there is no functioning government in Somalia makes the situation even worse, and the advice is to stay at least 200 miles off the coast if venturing into these dangerous waters.