Comprised of more than 17,000 islands, 8,000 of which are inhabited, Indonesia is a fascinating patchwork of cultures and colours, landscape and languages. The islands are characterised by their distinctive volcanic peaks and gorgeous white-sand beaches, as well as luscious rainforests inhabited by elephants, orangutans and tigers. You’ll also find the amazing Komodo dragon on several of the islands.
Indonesia’s most populous island is Java, where you’ll find the capital Jakarta and the ancient city of Yogyakarta, renowned for its rich artistic heritage, from traditional puppetry to gamelan music. The country is also well known for its mystical temples, beautiful spiritual rituals and sumptuous food.
Popular Ports in Indonesia
This tranquil town is located on Pulau Weh, a small island in the north of Indonesia. It’s a fishing village where you can really experience local culture, whether you’re watching craftsmen make traditional rattan furniture or trying Indonesian delicacies such as chicken satay or ochak ochak (fish steamed in banana leaves). The streets of Sabang are lined with colonial-era villages, from its time as a Dutch colony.
Most people visit Sabang for its stunning beaches, which are some of the best on Pulau Weh. Sumur Tiga Beach is a tropical paradise of dazzling white sand, caressed by vivid turquoise waters. Rarely overrun by tourists, it’s the perfect spot to relax.
Benoa is the main cruise port for Bali, one of the world’s most popular island destinations. When you disembark you’ll be greeted by Balinese dancers who will perform for you. There are also demonstrations of traditional gamelan music, puppetry and batik printing among others, so you can learn all about Balinese culture.
The port is located on a small peninsula, Tanjung Benoa, renowned for its long, soft white-sand beach and calm, clear waters. There are plenty of water-sports operators, where you can take a scuba-diving excursion or try unique activities such as water jetpacks. Benoa also boasts one of Bali’s best cooking schools, where you’ll visit local markets and buy the ingredients used to make local dishes such as ayam betutu, or slow-grilled chicken.
Lembar is the port for the island of Lombok. When you disembark you’ll be surrounded by beautiful natural scenery – azure seas break against unspoilt beaches, ringed by forested volcanic peaks. You’ll love exploring this natural paradise. Rent a boat in the harbour and take a 20-minute boat ride to Gili Nanggu, a peaceful tropical island. Relax on the uncrowded beaches or take a snorkelling trip to explore the island’s colourful underwater world.
If you’re interested in local culture we recommend a trip to the nearby Banyumulek pottery village, where you can see artisans painstakingly making traditional pottery. You can even have a go yourself.
What are the best cruise ships for an Indonesia cruise?
Make the most of your Indonesia cruise by choosing the perfect ship for your needs. Here are two choices which strike a good balance between luxury and affordability.
One of the Marella fleet’s largest and most sophisticated ships, Marella Discovery, will allow you to cruise Indonesia in style. On the 11 decks you’ll find both an indoor and outdoor pool, a jogging track, a climbing wall and a spa. The kids’ club keeps children entertained with pyjama parties, dressing-up and movie nights. This leaves parents free to enjoy dazzling evening entertainment at the large Broadway Show Lounge, or a sunset cocktail at Sky Bar. With seven restaurants on offer you’ll be able to enjoy everything from gourmet cuisine at Chef’s Table to evening tapas at Glass House.
The jewel in the crown of the Princess Cruises fleet, Sapphire Princessis a stunning ship with world-class amenities. There are a lot of pools on-board, including Neptune’s Reef Pool and the Lap Pool, where you can swim against the current. You’ll love relaxing at The Sanctuary, an adults-only haven with a tranquil pool, chic day beds and even private cabanas. Not only is there a kids’ club, there’s also a lot going on for teenagers, including hot-tub parties and a teens-only lounge where they can play video games, table football and meet new friends. The numerous on-board restaurants serve food from around the world, including sushi, Caribbean cuisine, British pub grub and Italian classics.
Shore Excursion Ideas
Shore excursions in Indonesia are as varied as the country itself, ranging from cultural tours to adrenaline-packed water sports. Here are two highly rated options, departing from Benoa.
Ubud arts and crafts shopping tour
The town of Ubud is Bali’s cultural and artistic centre. Drive through unspoilt countryside, passing emerald rice paddy terraces and aromatic spice plantations. You’ll stop in Celuk, the gold and silversmith capital of Bali, to view a traditional craft workshop and gallery. Next up is Kemenuh, a village renowned for its wood-carvings. You’ll be welcomed with tea and rice cakes by a Balinese family, and then visit their workshop.
Then you’ll reach Ubud itself, where you’ll visit an arts colony renowned for its art galleries and studios, where you’ll find wooden statues, traditional paintings and woven handicrafts. After looking around you’ll continue to Ubud Palace, a beautiful building renowned for its intricate carvings.
Ayung whitewater rafting
Escape the tropical heat on this adrenaline-fuelled ride down the Ayung River. After a safety briefing you’ll set off, paddling past dramatic gorges, plunging ravines and tropical forests. Look out for wild animals such as bats and monkeys, and for Hindu shrines half-hidden by the foliage. Hold tight as you ride the rapids!
After your trip ends, you’ll head over to the Royal Pita Maha Resort and Spa for lunch. Enjoy panoramic views of the river and surrounding hillsides as you tuck into a traditional Balinese meal.