A luxury cruise ship carrying passengers between Rome and Singapore came under attack from Somali pirates as it sailed between Somalia and Yemen on Sunday.

The Nautica, an Oceania cruise ship, was carrying 690 American, British and Australian passengers and a 386-member crew when two small fishing boats tried to intercept it.

The ship's captain, Jurica Brajcic, began evasive maneuvres when the pirates were about 1,000 yards away from the ship and managed to avert the attack.

While cargo ships and small pleasure boats have been attacked by Somali pirates in the past, this is only the second time they have attempted to hijack a cruise ship.

Three years ago, rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the Seabourn Spirit. Two of the ship's officers were injured.

"Nautica was immediately brought to flank speed and was able to outrun the two skiffs," An Oceania spokesman said.

"One of the skiffs did manage to close the range to approximately 300 yards and fired eight rifle shots in the direction of the vessel before trailing off."

No one aboard the ship was harmed and the ship did not suffer any damage.

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