Bali to become a hub port for cruise ships


Indonesia’s port authorities are set on making Bali a hub port for cruise ships in Southeast Asia through new investments in cruise infrastructure.
Currently, Bali’s main port Benoa acts as a port of call where guests visit for a day before hopping back on their ship and sailing off.
This year, Benoa will welcome 60 ships – 11 more vessels than the 49 that visited last year and 19 more than 2013.
Princess Cruises’ new Singapore-based vessel, Sapphire Princess kicked off the wave season when she docked at Benoa on 1 January with some 2,600 passengers onboard.
However, she’s one of the few ships visiting the island this season on an Asian itinerary, as the majority of ships call at Bali on sailings from Down Under.
For example, this month a total of six ships will stop at Benoa. Four of them will arrive on a cruise from Australia, including Pacific Jewel, which departs from Fremantle, Australia and stops at Lombok, Bali and Komodo Island before returning to Western Australia.
There’s also Diamond Princess, which arrives in Bali on 15 March while on a 28-day roundtrip from Sydney, Australia.
The other two cruise ships visiting Indonesia this month are stopping by as they travel to Australia. This includes MSC Orchestra, which arrives in Bali on 8 March en route from Dubai to Cairns, Australia.
Ali Sodikin, general manager of seaport operator Penlindo III for Benoa port said the aim is to expand the port so it is more than just a destination for cruise ships, but rather a hub.
He’s hoping to turn Bali into a turn-around port where cruise passengers start and end their journey.
This would benefit the destination economically, as cruise passengers will need to book before and after accommodation on the island as well as flights to the cruise.
“Cruises would originate from this port and return here after completing their journey,” he said.
Currently in Southeast Asia, Singapore and Malaysia handle the majority of ships turn-arounds.
However, Mr Sodikin sees room for Bali to become another main port in the region, all he’s waiting for is approval for a master plan to develop the port.
“The facility improvements will take around 10 months. We are targeting starting operation as a hub port by 2017,” he told the Jakarta Post.
He said the wharf will need to be expanded to accommodate three cruise ships at once.
This will see the eastern pier extended from 205 metres to 250 metres.
There will also be improvements to the port basins and channel.
Do you think Southeast Asia has room for a third cruise hub?