BENOA, BALI Who goes there: Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean.
Cruisers like: If time allows, visitors take a day trip to the volcanoes and temples to the north of the island, via the artist centre of Ubud. Alternatively, visit the capital, Denpasar, with its “Gold Street” and bustling four-storey market one day, then concentrate on the beaches and bars, cafes and restaurants at Kuta, or the high-end resorts of Nusa Dua. Around the port area, every kind of water sport is available, with good surfing off the east coast.
Best for: All ages, couples, surfers, shoppers, art lovers.
Getting around: The cruise terminal port of Benoa is about 10 kilometres from Denpasar and the international airport. There are many taxis outside the terminal and you can hire a car or van and driver for about US$65. Make sure your driver speaks some English.
SEMARANG, CENTRAL JAVA Who goes there: Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises.
Cruisers like: The city’s interesting multicultural background serves up Dutch colonial museums, stately churches and homes, as well as relics of the Dutch East India Company, mosques and the crimson Sam Poo Kong Buddhist temple. Lawang Sewu (a thousand doors) was built in the early 1900s as the headquarters of the local railway company. Drive a couple of hours south to explore Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, lost in the jungle for centuries and now restored as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The walls of each level of the pyramid-shaped temple are covered with intricate stone carvings, telling the history of Buddha.
Best for: History and art lovers, shoppers.
Getting around: The Semarang port is about six kilometres from the town centre. There are taxis available from the port and shuttle buses provided to head downtown.
JAKARTA, JAVA Who goes there: Crystal Cruises.
Cruisers like: The Old Batavia area has a tranquil square surrounded by 18th-century buildings from the time of the Dutch East India Company. On one side of the square, there’s good coffee from a heritage cafe, still retaining its colonial air and filled with interesting artwork. Shopping is good at the city’s many large, modern shopping centres.
Best for: History buffs, food lovers.
Getting around: Jakarta’s port terminal is located in Tanjung Priok, about four kilometres from the CBD. Depending on the traffic, it can take up to 45 minutes to get there. Taxis are available and shuttles are generally provided.
SURABAYA, EAST JAVA Who goes there: Holland America Line.
Cruisers like: Indonesia’s second-larges city played a vital role in Indonesia’s independence. The 41-metre Heroic Monument and museum is the main symbol of Surabaya. A thriving multi-ethnic seaport, it has massive shopping malls, museums and mosques, most notable the turquoise-domed Al-Akbar Mosque. Tour the less-modern parts of Surabaya to learn about Indonesian life, and be sure to try East Java’s spicy-yet-sweet cuisine. Ciputra Waterpark, Surabaya Zoo and Taman Safari II, a drive-through safari park, are worth a visit. Families might also enjoy an ex-Soviet submarine that is now a museum.
Best for: All ages.
Getting around: Port Tanjung Perak is about seven kilometres from the centre of Surabaya and should take 20 minutes. There will be taxis waiting at the port terminal.
LEMBAR, LOMBOK Who goes there: Azamara Club Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean.
Cruisers like: Some call this island “an unspoiled Bali”. It has beautiful beaches and the volcano of Mount Rinjani looming above. It is easy to get around. Rent a motorised boat for a trip to the resort island of Gili Nanggu, just 20 minutes offshore, to snorkel among brilliant coral and tropical fish. Swim, relax on the dazzling white sand and watch the perahu, traditional twin outrigger fishing boats, and floating fishing houses. Selong Belanak is a long, wide beach, perfect for sunset viewing. Families and nature-lovers enjoy nature and wildlife tours.
Best for: All ages, couples, active people, water lovers.
Getting around: As soon as you leave the cruise terminal, you will be mobbed by street sellers. For about US$50, you can hire a van or car with a driver. Inside the cruise terminal gates, the fare will be more expensive. Do not pay the driver until you arrive at your destination.
SABANG, ACEH Who goes there: P&O Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises.
Cruisers like: The most northern and western city in Indonesia, Sabang sits on an island off the tip of Sumatra. Remote and unsophisticated, the area has world-class beaches and diving spots. Water activites, fishing and mountain biking are available. Gapang Beach is popular, as is sandy white Iboih Beach with its enchanting underwater scenery, while Rubiah Island has a fascinating “sea garden”. There are hot springs and an unusual undersea geothermal bubbling away offshore. The corals have regenerated after the 2004 tsunami and the locals are happy to show tsunami relics and talk about it. The nearby city of Banda Aceh has a Tsunami museum and memorial.
Best for: Active people.
Getting around: Sabang is the first stop for many cruise ships arriving in Southeast Asia from the west. The port is within walking distance of the town of Balohan and about an hour’s drive from Sabang. Taxis are available outside the terminal, but be sure to agree on the fare before you leave the port.
KOMODO ISLAND Who goes there: Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Lindblad Expeditions (National Geographic), P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises.
Cruisers like: Part of the Komodo National Park, this island is famous for the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest living lizard. Other animals include deer, water buffalo, macaque monkeys and civets, as well as crabs and birds, and tours will enable visitors to see them. The Komodo dragons are dangerous, so all visitors must go with guides for their own safety. Watch the lizards being fed and take photographs or video to show everyone at home. The coastline is equally interesting with rich sea life. Make sure you see the pink-sand beach, one of only seven in the world. Day cruises allow guests to enjoy snorkelling in the clear waters.
Best for: Nature lovers.
Getting around: Cruises are not able to dock here so passengers are ferried ashore on tenders.
PROBOLINGGO, EAST JAVA Who goes there: Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises.
Cruisers like: This busy harbour on the Java Sea is brightened by the colourful fishing vessels that moor there. A walk around Probolinggo town gives an insight into the various cultures that make up this unpretentious, industrious East Javanese city. Not far away is the Jabung Temple, an interesting 14th-century, red-brick Buddhist funerary shrine. Inland the landscape is dramatic and to see it best, hire a driver and guide in a Jeep or private minibus for the 90-minute drive to the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park. While there, visit the accessible Madakaripura Waterfall. For more excitement there are rafting and tubing tours that allow you to see bat caves, guano deposits and waterfalls. Taste the area’s excellent produce grown in rich volcanic soil: sweet green mangoes, rice, corn, sugar and coffee, and the local seafood.
Don’t miss: Visit Mt Bromo, the most famous volcano in Indonesia, best viewed at sunrise.
Best for: Active people.
Getting around: The town is a kilometre and a half north of the port. There are no taxis at the cruise terminal, but plenty of becak (pedicabs) for transport to the town centre for about US$5.
MAKASSAR, SOUTH SULAWESI Who goes there: Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises.
Cruisers like: Shopping alert! Karebosi Link is Indonesia’s first underground shopping mall. Near the waterfront, the beautifully preserved 17th-century Dutch building, Fort Rotterdam, has an interesting museum, and the Ballalompoa Museum, on the site of a former royal residence, is also worth visiting. South of the city is the old Gowa kingdom and the Pelantikan Stone where the kings of Gowa were crowned. Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, 40 kilometres to the north, is a well-known karst area, and also famous for a remarkable collection of brilliant local butterflies.
Best for: All ages.
Getting around: There are taxis at the cruise terminal, but be sure to negotiate your fare before you drive off.
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