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Missing the Boat; Missing the Point

Tanah Ampo International Cruise Terminal Fails to Win Friends During Recent Visit of MV Aurora to East Bali

(3/5/2012) Inexpert and poor planning, and an amateurish approach to serving the cruise industry once again sadly reared its head at the Tanah Ampo International Cruise Terminal in Karangasem, East Bali on Monday, February 27, 2012 during the visit of the MV Aurora that carried 1,950 passengers and 850 crew to Bali.

The passengers who disembarked the ship in the morning for tours of Bali discovered that they were unable to re-board the ship when a rope securing the gangway connecting the passenger landing pontoon to the main dock broke.

As a result, hundreds of passengers were stranded on the main pier and adjacent terminal while hurried efforts were made to re-secure the pontoon, making it once again safe for passenger use. According to Nusa Bali, at one point hundreds of passengers waiting on the pier had to run for shelter when a rainstorm swept across the area.

Tourists protested the situation with one English tourist, Mary Watson, complaining bitterly that she was compelled to stand for four hours on the pier due to the broken connecting line. Said Watson while using her right hand to give a ‘thumb’s down’ gesture: “In such an emergency situation there is no food, drinks or umbrellas. No one cares that we were left standing here; this is the first and the last time I will come to Bali.”

After a delay of some 6.5 hours, temporary repairs allowed passengers to once again board the pontoon and make their way back to the ship after some passengers had been waiting since late morning to re-board the ship for lunch.

Local transportation officials blamed the failure on heavy waves and high winds, but, in fact, the pontoon system at the dock was poorly designed, with an earlier, first pontoon falling apart just weeks after its installation.

The pontoon's failure also cause a number of officials from Karangasem regency and a group of dancer who had boarded the ship in the morning little choice but to wait until early evening to return to shore.

The Gods Must be Angry

According to Nusa Bali, people from the surrounding village are not blaming inexpert planning and poor execution for the several service failures at Tanah Ampo, but insist that that official’s failure to undertake matur piuning ceremonies at the site as the main cause for the less than auspicious reception afforded to cruise passengers landing at Tanah Ampo.

New Management at Tanah Ampo

The Bali Post has confirmed that PT Karangasem Sejahtera has just been given permission by the Indonesian Minister of Transportation to manage the Tanah Ampo International Cruise Terminal.

Under the appointment PT Pelindo III will continue to handle inbound cruise ships at Tanah Ampo but receptive services and the handling of passengers in the port will be the responsibility of PT Karangasem Sejahtera.

It is hoped that the appointment of PT Karangasem Sejahtera will improve the sub-standard service provided to date by the Tanah Ampo Cruise Terminal. The Company has promised to devise standard operating procedure (SOP) for the facility and soon make those policies known and available to the larger community.

Tourism operators hope that PT Karangasem Sejahtera has, or will acquire, managers experienced in international cruise ship operations, seen as a necessary prerequisite to salvaging the tarnished reputation of the new cruise port.

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