Bali has welcomed the Holland America Line cruise ship, the MW Westerdam, to Benoa Harbour. The ship arrived in the early hours of Monday, 16th January, and stayed in dock until 5 pm. The cruise liner was carrying 2,811 passengers, including over 800 crew. The arrival of the international cruise ship has given renewed optimism to Bali’s maritime tourism industry, which is making a slow and steady recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.
The General Manager of PT Pelindo Benoa Port Branch, Anak Agung Gede Agung Mataram, told reporters, “We, together with the Westerdam Ship agents, coordinate with each other to ensure the smooth process of embarkation and debarkation for the passengers of the MV Westerdam cruise. This ship is represented by PT Bahari Eka Nusantara, and we are very pleased that this cruise ship from the Holland America Line group can return to our port.”
Passengers disembarked the vessel to enjoy their stop-over on the Island of the Gods. Mataram said tourists had a chance to take a day trip around the island and that crew from Bali could step off the ship to visit family and friends. There has been a sharp increase in tourism workers from Bali seeking roles on cruise ships in recent months. In fact, the shift of labor has proven a challenge for dozens of hospitality businesses in Bali that have been struggling to find staff.
Since 2019, many tourism workers in Bali have been seeking higher-paid, more secure, and less stressful jobs. Cruise ships are fast becoming the tourism sector of choice for many Balinese workers. Roles for ‘unskilled workers’ on international cruise liners offer between USD 16,000-22000 as an entry salary with a generous package of benefits; food, board, and the chance to travel the world.
One passenger from Germany told reporters, “This time is the third time I have visited Bali. I really enjoy traveling here. We will follow several tour options offered by our tour guide, there are Tanah Lot, Jimbaran Beach, Tegallalang, and others.” International visitors could be seen taking selfies with the Welcome to Benoa sign and exploring the stalls at the harbor as they waited for their shuttle vehicles to take them further in-land.
The arrival of the first big cruise ship of the year was welcome news to the Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun. He said noted that the arrival of over 1,000 passengers on the cruise ship all count towards the tourism targets set by Minster Uno for 2023. Pemayun said, “The national target [for international tourists] by the Minister Sandiaga Uno is 7 million, while Bali is targeted at 4 million foreign tourists”. He explained how Bali surpassed the 2022 target by 10% and that he hopes the same will happen in 2023.
In other maritime news, port officials in Nusa Penida have confirmed that the new floating pontoon bridge has been fixed. Disaster struck just days after the floating pontoon was opened in December as the bridge was overloaded and sunk, causing passengers to fall into the ocean. Officials launched an investigation, and independent contractors were hired to fix the issue.
In a statement issued on Monday, 16th January, the head of Port Operations at Nusa Penida, I Ketut Gede Sudarma, said, “The renovation of the pontoon connecting bridge has been completed and we have conducted trials. As a result, the bridge is ready to be used again.”
He continued “In this trial, no structural failures were found, based on the measurement results, the deflection (0.8 cm) was smaller than the deflection due to the maximum design load of 3.58 cm. Apart from that, we also installed warning signs regarding restrictions on boarding and disembarking passengers on floating docks that pass through the movable bridge to maintain a longer construction service life.”
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