Citing credible security concerns pertaining to Indonesia, Celebrity Cruises cancelled its scheduled Benoa, Indonesia port call for Celebrity Solstice today, proceeding earlier than expected to the next port call, Darwin, Australia. The ship is currently in the midst of a 17-night voyage from Fremantle (Perth) to Sydney.
The line’s statement said: “Celebrity Cruises has been monitoring the security situation in Indonesia, including recent travel advice from the Australian and U.K. governments, related to the potential for terrorist attacks in the country. After discussion with our global security team in Miami, we have decided to cancel Celebrity Solstice's call to Bali on Monday, March 7.
"This decision was made in an abundance of caution, and we apologize for the impact on our guests' cruise. Our guests' vacation time is precious and we did not take this decision lightly. The safety of our guests and crew is always our foremost concern.
"We will continue to monitor the security situation in Indonesia and will notify guests or their travel agents if there are changes to future sailings that visit Bali."
Informing Guests and Crew
In the cruise line's letter to crew members (a copy of which was posted on CruiseLawNews.com on Sunday), the line said: “Due to a recent increase in credible security concerns pertaining to Indonesia, a decision has been made that Solstice will be bypassing Bali."
The letter also said the decision was made "in an abundance of caution and for genuine care based upon security intelligence of potential terrorist attacks in the country that our company has been made aware of.”
Passengers, also informed about the change via a letter to their stateroom, received a full refund of any shore trips they'd purchased from Celebrity for the Benoa port call.
However, the cancellation of Benoa as a port call was likely most difficult for those Indonesian crew members who reside in Bali and were planning to visit family and friends, some for the first time in six months or so. Most cruise crew members work multi-month contracts at sea.
“We understand that this is a great disappointment to our crew since many of you were looking forward to going ashore that day,” Captain Ioannis Berdos and Hotel Director John Paul Lamb, among others, said in the crew letter: “Words cannot express how much we feel for you, especially for our fellow Indonesian crew members that were so looking forward to being home and visiting with their family and friends.”
The company allowed crew members to use onboard offices to call their friends and relatives ashore and advise them of the change in plans.
The United States Government has an ongoing "Worldwide Caution" related to terrorism. In the geographic section of that caution it addresses Southeast Asia, and Indonesia in particular: "Indonesian counterterrorism efforts have prevented terrorists from conducting large-scale attacks in recent years. The January 14, 2016, attack in central Jakarta, however, shows that extremists in Indonesia still have the ability to carry out small-scale violent attacks."
The United Kingdom's Foreign Service also says "there is a high threat from terrorism" for those traveling in Indonesia. It urges consumers to be "particularly vigilant during holiday periods," citing, among others, Nyepi or Balinese New Year on March 9, which is this week. It said holiday periods "can be a time of heightened tension and increased risk."
On February 25, Australia's government posted this security advisory on its smarttraveller.gov.au site: “Recent indications suggest that terrorists may be in the advanced stages of preparing attacks in Indonesia. The overall level of advice has not changed. We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including Bali.”
Celebrity isn’t the only cruise line calling at Benoa. For example, Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas calls at Benoa on two upcoming voyages – the 16-night cruise, “Circumnavigation Top End Cruise” that departs March 12 from Perth (Fremantle), Australia and ends in Sydney with a call at Benoa, and the April 20 cruise sails from Bisbane to Hong Kong on April 20.
Princess Cruises and Oceania Cruises also have upcoming port calls at Benoa, as do other lines. We'll provide any updates received here.