Balidiscovery.com caught up with Mark Ridge, the recently appointed General Manager of Bali Hai Cruises - the company that operates a popular range of day and dinner cruises, beach accommodation and water sports activities.
Born and raised in South Africa, Mark's family traces its African roots back a number of generations. Fittingly, he has a deep love of that continent's bush, working from an early age as a wildlife guide and naturalist.
On his way to Bali, Mark has lived in New Zealand, operated an up-market lodge in Botswana and run his own marine business in the United States.
Delighted to be living in Bali, Mark took time from his busy schedule to share his vision for Bali Hai Cruises.
Mark Ridge of Bali Hai Cruises: The Interview
Balidiscovery.com: Mark, welcome to Bali. What path in life brought you to managing a popular day cruise operation in Bali?
Mark Ridge: Having been in the marine industry previously, Bali Hai Cruises was a logical choice. Working for a company, with all the different cruise products and vessels, that is a leader in the business, made the position very attractive to my wife and myself. Also, we were looking for a place to live that has both natural beauty as well as people that are still completely immersed into their cultural beliefs. It was important to us that our next home was not just a show for tourists, and we have certainly found that to still be true in Bali. There are very few other places in the world where this is still the case.
Balidiscovery.com: What are the main product lines operated by Bali Hai Cruises?
Mark Ridge: Our core product are the day cruises to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida on either a large motor catamaran or our exclusive sailing catamaran that take you to the best snorkeling spots in Bali. Once there, you can enjoy fun water sports as well as the beach club. Our dinner cruise options, dolphin watching and fast, exhilarating ocean raft trips round out the choices so there is an option for every taste and desire.
Balidiscovery.com: How do you see business shaping up for the coming year?
Mark Ridge: The start to 2008 has been excellent and we see no reason why this should not continue. New emerging markets, like Russia, are adding to our base of Western and Asian guests.
Balidiscovery.com: Any new products or approaches to the marketplace planned?
Mark Ridge: While it seems difficult to improve on something that is already so well-liked and diverse, such as Bali Hai Cruises, any new manager naturally has big plans and dreams. So I guess, this is the same with me. Although still in the planning stages, we are working on a marine research and education center that will bring our guests closer to the marine environment through a hands-on and visual connection. The environment has always had a very high priority for us and we hope that with this added feature to our cruises our guests experience will be even more enhanced. So come cruise with us and check it all out!
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