Bali’s Benoa Harbour is undergoing a massive redevelopment to enable the island to welcome bigger cruise ships into the dock. Bali has welcomed two international luxury cruises into Benoa Harbour this week, and the area looks busier than it has done in over two years.
Both vessels docked in Benoa Harbour early on Thursday, 3rd November. One cruise liner had set sail from Australia, the other from Norway. Altogether a total of 2,083 stepped off the ships and onto dry land to enjoy a few hours exploring all that Bali has to offer.
Speaking at the Benoa Cruise Terminal at the time of the ships’ arrivals, the Head of the Denpasar Class I Immigration Office, Tedy Riyandi, told reporters that the arrival of the cruise ships is a positive sign for the future of Maritime tourism in Bali. He said, ‘Today, we both saw the arrival of 2 cruise ships, namely Australia and Norway, which brought 2,083 foreign tourists who would travel on the island of Bali. This is a good sign for the world of tourism after being on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic’.
Riyandi and his teams conducted immigration checks on the arrivals before their arrival and disembarkment from the Viking Orion and Queen Elizabeth cruise ships. The immigration checking program in place for cruise tourists facilitates visas on arrival being approved before passengers step off the ship in Bali.
Riyandi said, ‘Immigration checks and the issuance of visas on arrival are carried out on the transportation [this is] to speed up the procedure for the arrival of foreigners. Then they can immediately land and travel to enjoy the beauty of the island of Bali’. The much complained about IDR 500,000 for the visa on arrival is still applicable for cruise passengers though it is usually included in their set cruise experience fee.
The Senior Operational Manager, Andry, told reporters that the cruise industry in Bali is undoubtedly growing and that there is scope for Bali to welcome large cruise liners.
He explained, ‘For Bali alone, for November to mid-December, there are 15 ships…If the port is in Papua, it’s called a small ship expedition carrying 150 people. They will go down to the smallest islands…For large ships, they enter Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Bali, and Probolinggo. Probolinggo is for those who want to go to Bromo, Semarang who want to go to Borobudur’.
The promotion of cruise travel in Bali also aligns with the government campaign to promote the island as a destination for retirees. Angry further explained, ‘There are many enthusiasts from Europe, Australia, and America. As for those from Asia, they are rare…they [passengers] are retired, enjoying vacation. There are also young people, but more people are retired on [these] cruise ships.
Neither the MV Viking Orion nor MV Queen Elizabeth stayed for long in Bali this time around. Both of the ships had left Benoa Harbour by 7 pm on Thursday evening. The Viking Orion headed onward to Singapore while the Queen Elizabeth was traveling to Freemantle in Australia.
Bali celebrated the return of cruise travel to the island in mid-September. On Monday, 19th September, Benoa Harbour welcomed a small cruise vessel called Laperouse. The ship traveled from Australia and was carrying 250 guests. The vessel was the first of 53 cruise ships scheduled to arrive at Benoa Harbour before the end of 2023, with many more thought to be added to the schedule in the coming months.
Other islands around Bali are also exploring the potential of cruise tourism. Nusa Penida has recently announced plans to promote maritime tourism. The small Nusa Islands are governed as a part of Bali province and are too small to welcome large cruise liners like Benoa Harbour. Yet, they are seeking to promote commercial cruise experiences in the area, using a combination of small cruise vessels and pontoons to allow access to the islands.
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