The Jakarta Post
The greenish blue waters of Raja Ampat, West Papua. (The Jakarta Post/Gisela Swaragita)
The pristine, turquoise seas between the islands of the Indonesian archipelago continue to entice tourists despite the ongoing pandemic.
Francesco Galli Zugaro, founder and CEO of luxury cruise provider Aqua Expeditions, said tourists had jumped at the chance to book cruises aboard their Aqua Blu yachts to secluded islands across the country when expeditions began in August.
“The Aqua Blu Indonesia local residents campaign has been very well received. We have had a lot of interest for 2021 and 2020 dates," he told The Jakarta Post during a recent interview. "People are looking at all our itineraries, as they propose new offerings compared to the traditional offerings. The ease of departing from Bali or Jakarta also helps."
At the moment, the company relies solely on Indonesian guests to charter their yachts privately. However, Zugaro remained optimistic that international boarders would reopen in the next year and they could admit guests from outside Indonesia.
Recently, the provider began offering special rates for local residents – Indonesian nationals as well as KITAS and KITAP holders – for excursions on board the ocean explorer. Expeditions around the islands of Indonesia began in August with itineraries of three, seven and 12 nights to destinations as diverse as Komodo National Park, Ambon and the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat in West Papua.
Read also: Diving safely amid the pandemic
A three-night private charter for up to 30 passengers starts from US$84,900 and US$113,200 for four nights. The rate includes all meals onboard and beverages, which include premium wines and local beer. It also includes all excursions, snorkeling equipment and wet suits, scuba diving for passengers with diving certificates, group transfers to and from the vessel to recommended flights, as well as laundry and internet.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 onboard, as occurred on a number of cruise ships at the beginning of the pandemic, Aqua Expeditions implements strict safety measures that include cleaning and sanitation procedures, health screening and pre-boarding medical evaluations of all crew.
It says it complies with World Health Organization protocols, local health regulations and management standards.
“We are confident that with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, we can provide a relaxed holiday to all future guests who choose to travel with us,” Zugaro said. (wng)
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