Around 423 international passengers aboard the luxury liner Seabourn Odyssey arrived at Celukan Bawang port in Gerokgak village, Buleleng regency, on Wednesday morning to enjoy the beauty of northern Bali. A number of artists performed the gerumbungan dance, a traditional and communal peasant dance from Buleleng, to warmly greet the guests. Dewa Adhi Kumarajaya, general manager of PT Pelindo III state-owned port management company, said that the Seabourn Odyssey was the third large holiday cruise liner to dock at Celukan Bawang since early January 2013.
“Celukan Bawang port welcomes at least four large luxury liners every year. The first arrived at the port in 2001. Since then, we have regularly welcomed cruise tourists,” said Kumarajaya. “We are expecting another liner to arrive at the port during the upcoming year-end holiday on Dec. 23,” he said. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Transportation Ministry, PT Pelindo and the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, international cruises are now looking to visit underexplored destinations in Indonesia, including northern Bali.
Celukan Bawang port is one of the most suitable on the island for large cruise ships. The port is strategically situated in water 23 meters deep, thus is able to accommodate large vessels, including luxury liners and large-bodied cargo ships. “We can accommodate the 198-meter long Seabourn Odyssey,” Kumarajaya said. Celukan Bawang port was initially designed as a cargo port for ships plying routes from Sumatra and Java to Bali and other places in eastern Indonesia.
Rainer Ritier, a passenger from Germany, together with his partner Mira, was delighted to stop at Celukan Bawang. “We have stopped at Semarang in Central Java, Surabaya and Probolinggo in East Java. But Celukan Bawang is the most beautiful. It has stunning views — the sea and hills,” said Ritier. Ketut Warkadea, head of Buleleng Tourism Agency, was happy to welcome the cruise tourists. “Their visit to Buleleng will certainly have positive impact on our tourism activities,” said Warkade.
During their one-day stop in Buleleng, some of the 423 visitors participated in a city tour visiting museums, the art center, and old villages in Julah and Pacung. They also visited Bedugul resort and the forest preservation site at Menjangan Island, as well as West Bali National Park, home to the Bali starling. The arrival of luxury liners at Celukan Bawang has also benefitted small businesses from neighboring villages such Lovina and Banjar. To anticipate the arrival of more large cruise liners, PT Pelindo III plans to expand the port in 2017 and 2018.
The port, the general manager said, would have new facilities, including a cruise terminal, marina, café and restaurant. However, this might be in the too distant future to capture the potential of the luxury cruise market.
source : bali daily