The pirates did not mistreat the Johansen’s but their life in captivity was not easy. They had to live mainly on rice, which they were not used to eating without any accompaniment. They had to endure heat, boredom and long confinement. The worst part of the experience, they later said, was the smell: The pirates kept goats and allowed them to wander freely on the bridge; they regularly slaughtered one of the goats and left its entrails lying on the hot metal deck. They were also disturbed by frequent noisy quarrels between the two gangs of pirates on the ship. It seems though that, most of the time, the family managed to be active and optimistic. The parents gave school work to the children every day, using books they had brought from the ING and ones they had found in the MS Dover’s library and they continued the tradition of daily family “meetings” that they had begun when they left Denmark. Once they were able to go ashore under guard. They got some exercise and ate some lobster. But they were rushed quickly back to the ship because the pirates were afraid they were going to be “stolen” by a rival gang. Once a Danish journalist visited the ship. He was not allowed to interview the Johanssens, but he did see them and their crew, and he shook hands with Jan Quist who only said that he could not speak to him because doing so might interfere with the ransom negotiations. The journalist did have an interview with the pirate leader though, who told him that if the Johanssens would let him marry their thirteen-year-old daughter, Naja, he would release the rest of the family without ransom.
While the Johansens were imprisoned on the freighter, ransom negotiations were going on back in Denmark. Finally, the pirates received about $1 million and all seven Danish hostages were released and flown back to Denmark. The source of the ransom money was not made public.