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Indonesia acknowledges the need to improve cruise ships’ facilities

The development of Indonesia has seen its cruise ship calls and passenger traffic increase by more than 30 percent annually for the past four years, making the country an important cruise destination in Asia. However, port infrastructure does not follow…

JAKARTA – Indonesia is turning into an increasingly attractive destination for cruise liners. This year, the total number of cruise passengers is due to reach 167,000; ip from 161,500 last year. According to the ministry of tourism and creative economy’s data, 266 cruise calls have been confirmed for 2014, however down from the 310 calls made throughout this year. The move is to be blame to the absence of good port facilities which explains why foreign cruise ships feel reluctant to have a port of call in Indonesia, according to the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry.

The ministry’s meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) and special interest tourism marketing director Rizki Handayani explained to the Jakarta Post newspaper that  the slowdown was caused by port infrastructure bottlenecks, preventing cruise liners, particularly those operating voyager vessels carrying more than 3,000 passengers, to enter the port.

“Cruise operators are establishing cruise itineraries a year to two years in advance. But if we’re unable to fulfill our promise to further develop the ports when they are about to publish their itineraries, they will not include Indonesia in their map,” Rizki told The Jakarta Post.

Cruise liners seeking to offer cruise circuits in Indonesia have been rebuked by the lack of facilities. Mrs Handayani indicated that she got request from Voyager of the Seas, which brought around 5,000 passengers. The ship is now waiting for a call to Indonesia, asking to dock in at one of Indonesia’s port.

“They’ve contacted us, saying they want to explore Indonesian destinations, especially Bali. Unfortunately, today we do not have port facilities that can accommodate a cruise ship as big as Voyager of the Seas,” she said. Every voyager or mother vessel needs a 12-meter deep access channel and an 11-meter turning basin to safely enter and anchor at any port. Meanwhile, even the country’s most popular cruise destination, Benoa Port in Bali, only has 10-meter deep measurements, both in its access channel and turning basin.

The Ministry of tourism has identified 10 ports to be developed as port of calls for cruise ships. Among them are Jakarta, Benoa and Padang Bay in Bali, Karimun Jawa and Semarang in Central Java, Komodo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Lembar in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

Luc Citrinot

Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.