In conjunction with the publication of The Superyacht Migration Report, Andy Shorten, managing director and owner of the The Lighthouse Consultancy, explores how best to enjoy the myriad benefits of cruising in Indonesia.
Despite Indonesia becoming more popular within the superyacht industry, the country is still considered to be off the beaten track. With a vast archipelago of over 17,000 islands, multiple cruising grounds positioned throughout the region are complemented by a tropical, equatorial year-round climate and endless adventures – there is something to suit everyone.
Exhilarating cruising itineraries can be developed to include a unique mixture of natural beauty and diverse cultural experiences, with both a delightful array of marine and topside activities. Popular destinations in Indonesia include Bali, the cultural “Island of the Gods”; Komodo, the home of the legendary Komodo Dragon and the world class diving and snorkelling destination of Raja Ampat. Lesser-known alternatives which are becoming more interesting to experienced owners, or those on repeat visits to Indonesia, are some of the best surf breaks in the world in West Sumatra’s Mentawai Islands, the cultural and human historical importance of the Banda Islands and the jungles inhabited by endemic wildlife like Birds of Paradise, in West Papua.
Recommended routes through the country would need to consider the duration of the visit and the guest preferences, along with the vessels’ global itinerary before and after their Indonesian exploration. The natural flow of the Indonesian cruising grounds offer the opportunity to cruise throughout the country east to west or west to east, and there is also the option to split visits, to just explore one or two of the multiple cruising grounds and save others for a subsequent visit.
Whereas Indonesia’s cruising is exceptional, the supporting infrastructure is playing catch up to a degree. There are a number of professional shore support companies providing both agency and concierge services, with the language challenges of this part of the world, these lines of support can prove invaluable to visiting vessels.
There is a selection of smaller marinas under development, but a fully fledged superyacht marina remains some way in the future – though things can change quickly in Indonesia. When considering the major cruising grounds to the east, Bali is one of the more popular areas to stand by, predominantly due to logistical support and crew down time activities. The island has a number of stern-to med style berths, although these are in commercial port areas and don’t have shore power or shore water as yet, so need work arounds. There are some excellent berths for smaller vessels found in Lombok and also Waisai in Raja Ampat; however these seem few and far between in a country with such prolific cruising opportunities. Hopefully the focus on the marine tourism industry will see these facilities develop, along with others planned in Jakarta, Labuan Bajo, Ambon, or other strategic locations.
Indonesia has a reputation of being a complicated destination to visit. Whilst the government has streamlined the clearance procedures, it is still a paperwork-intensive application process for all vessels, but particularly larger yachts. Pre-arrival preparation is essential. The challenges of cruising in Indonesia require visiting yachts to have an understanding of paperwork and permits for multiple ports, visa requirements, provisioning constraints and local cultures, ahead of time, and for this reason it is highly recommended to appoint local shore support to assist with smoothing the path. It’s also a wise consideration to enlist the services of a local or international guide to join the trip and ensure things run smoothly in the remote regions. With over a decade supporting cruises in Indonesia, one such shore support company is The Lighthouse Consultancy www.thelighthouseconsultancy.com
Customs challenges regarding the import of Ship Spares and maintenance products do cause difficulties for vessels spending extensive periods of down time in the region, and there are minimal opportunities for haul out, repair or anything more than general maintenance. As such, Indonesia’s appeal as a cruising destination, really does focus on the quality of cruising experience.
Charter Tax Procedures:
Under current regulations, it’s not possible for a foreign flagged vessel to commercially charter in Indonesia, and so no taxation is required for a visiting yacht.
The quality of produce in Indonesia is surprisingly high, with the international hubs of Jakarta and Bali generating demand for high quality produce, to supply a plethora of high-end food and beverage establishments. This domestic demand means a wider range of both local and imported goods are available to visiting yachts, and shore support providers – such as the team at Lighthouse – have developed strong networks to organise and ship large quantities of provisions from Bali or Jakarta.
Deliveries would be sent to the local port, should the shipment coincide with a planned clearance, or even to a mid trip cruising anchorage, using combinations of cargo facilities on local airlines and local speedboats. Some staple supplies can be sourced directly in local ports, with a growing number of supermarkets found in these areas providing a limited but improving selection of goods. Fresh produce is also available at local markets but this can be very seasonal, and requires an adventurous chef, in closed toe sandals, to brave the enthusiasm of local families on their daily market shop.
Bunkers are available in most regional ports, supplies are straight forward in larger more frequently utilised ports, but can be somewhat challenging in more remote areas, depending on the quantities required and the regularity with which the port sees white boats.
So the Indonesian superyacht industry continues to develop and evolve off the back of the incredible cruising experiences on offer in the region. The huge positive is that due to the growth of the industry over the past years, facilities and services are improving and the list of options available for visiting yachts is growing. Certainly cruising in Indonesia is not straight forward and requires additional advanced planning than may be necessary in other areas of the world, but every country has its idiosyncrasies and those differences are part of the adventure. Perhaps that’s even part of the reason yacht owners wish to visit other countries and what keeps the yacht industry evolving.
So it’s important to arrive in Indonesia with an open mind -and a bag full of patience – embracing the cultural variation and enjoying all the incredible things that can be experienced, rather than getting frustrated by what can’t.
By Andy Shorten (Managing director and owner of The Lighthouse Consultancy, outlines best practice for Indonesia)