By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago with over 17,000 islands, yet most tourists only visit the overcrowded and saturated island of Bali.
Until recently, it was still difficult to access some of the most remote parts of Indonesia. It required using local transports which, while adventurous, often turned out to be unsafe, uncomfortable, and inconvenient in terms of schedule. If you are on a budget, you can still travel this way and enjoy a truly unique experience.
A much nicer alternative is to book a luxury cruise, or even to charter an entire boat and its crew. There are now several ships operating in Indonesia offering liveaboard experiences, mostly in the eastern part of the country (Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Papua and Sulawesi). The best are privately owned and managed by foreigners who are passionate about sailing, diving, and discovering the culture of the islands they visit.
Almost all the luxury boats mentioned below are Indonesian/Dutch schooner (also called phinisis), an iconic ship used to transport goods within Indonesia since the 17th century. They have either been renovated or built on purpose for tourism with modern amenities and equipment. Some are among the most luxurious in the world, catering to a crowd of jet-setters, rich businessmen and celebrities.
The season for sailing is typically from February to October, with the best months from June to August.
The best luxury yacht cruises and charters to explore the Indonesian islands are the following:
The famous luxury resort chain Aman offers unforgettable experiences on one of their two traditional boats, the 52-meter long Amandira and the 32-meter long Amanikan.
Their Komodo expedition departs from the Amanwana Hotel on Mojo island. The cost for 7-days is USD$42,850 for a couple. They also offer a Raja Ampat expedition departing from Sorong in Papia for USD$45,750 per couple. Don't worry, there will be cheaper options below!
More information on their website: https://www.aman.com/resorts/amanwana/cruises
The luxurious Alila Purnama is a floating 5-star boutique hotel. It is a 46-meter phinisi boat built on 3 decks with 5 suites. The 16-member crew includes a chef, a PADI-certified dive instructor and a masseuse.
There are several cruises every season in destinations such as Komodo, Raja Ampat, Maumere and Ambon.
Prices are on the high side, starting US$7,250 for a 3-night trip to Komodo in a standard suite. To charter the boat, you'll need to spend at least US$12,500++ per day.
More information on their website: http://www.alilahotels.com/purnama
Silolona Sojourns is one of the most luxurious private cruise companies to operate in Indonesia. As of 2016, it sails with 17 crew members to 5 destinations : Sulawesi, Banda, Papua, Komodo and Savu Sea. Their trips include carefully-planned land excursions by the American owner, Ms. Patti Seery.
The ships boasts 5 wooden suites that are each decorated with unique Indonesian artifacts. Numerous activities are available from water skiing to kayaking and sport fishing. You can also get your PADI certification onboard.
Prices are available on request. You can expect to pay at least US$10,000 for a 7-day trip. They have a second smaller liveaboard boat called Si Datu Bua.
More information on their website: http://www.silolona.com/
Owned by Veronika Blomgren, a successful Russian designer behind the Oazia brand in Bali, this growing company is planning to operate 8 ultra-luxurious ships in Indonesia within the next few years.
For now, they first one is a splendid 31-meter long phinisi boat with just one spacious cabin that can only accommodate a couple. Ideal for honeymooners, the current routes may take you to Moyo island, Komodo or Raja Ampat. The price starts at US$3,895 per night.
More information on their website: http://www.alexaprivatecruises.com/
Owned by American businessman Mark Robba, this 52-meter phinisi yacht can be rented for expeditions in Komodo and Raja Ampat from February to October.
The price for booking all of its 7 suites is around US$87,000 for a week.
More information on their website: https://duniabaruadventures.wordpress.com
The 65-meter yacht is the longest wooden sailing boat in the world. It was designed by the Argentinian Marcelo Penna and built in Sulawesi.
It is owned by Dominique Gerardin, a former yacht captain from France. The destination portfolio includes Raja Ampat, Alor, Komodo, Sumba and Flores. During the wet season, it travels to Thailand and Myanmar.
The boat can accommodate up to 14 guests in 1 double master cabin, 4 double cabins and 2 twin cabins. The price for charter is US$22,000++ per night (minimum 3 nights). It includes all drinks, all dives, all spa treatments, internet, gourmet meals and the use of the jet skis.
More information on their website: http://www.lamima.com/
The 40-meter luxury El Aleph ship is owned by a Frenchman and managed by an international crew. Built in Sulawesi, it features 5 cabins, including a 50m2 master suite with its own terrace.
It sails in the islands of eastern Indonesia from Bali up to Raja Ampat. The price for chartering El Aleph is approximately US$10,000 per day. It is popular with Russian clients.
More information on their website: http://www.elalephcruising.com/
Managed by expats, Plataran Private Cruises have 8 luxury boats, including 4 wooden phinisis and 4 yachts.
The yachts are 15 meters long and 4,7 meters wide, with an overnight capacity of 5 guests. There are 2 bathrooms and the 3 cabins all have air-conditioning.
The phinisis each have their own specifications. The largest can accommodate up to 12 sleeping guests. Operated by 8 crews, they are all with air-conditioning and private bathrooms.
Their most popular cruise is a 3 days/2 nights itinerary taking the passengers island-hopping to Rinca, Kalong, Pink Beach, Manta Point, Kanawa and Sabolon island. The price is a reasonable US$900 per person.
More information on their website: http://plataran.com/private-cruises
Under French management, this company operates two boats, Ambai and Calico Jack. It focuses on dive cruises in spots like Raja Ampat, Komodo, Alor, Flores, Banda and the lesser known "Forgotten Islands".
They offer more affordable rates than some of the competitors listed here, starting US$1,720 per person for 5 days.
More information on their website: http://www.wallacea-divecruise.com
This 34-meter long phinisi boat can welcome 12 passengers in 5 cabins, each with their own bathroom. It sails to Komodo, Maluku and Papua.
You can either book an individual cabin, or charter the whole boat for US$4,400 per day.
More information on their website: http://www.tigerblue.info/
Owned by Amanda, a retired Australian lady, this company only has one boat, the 37-meter Al Iikai (which means Queen of the Sea). It features 5 king-size luxury bedrooms with air-conditioning and private bathrooms.
As it is a smaller company, the prices are rather affordable, starting US$1500 for a 7-day Island Explorer Cruise that will take you around Lombok. They also have cruises with special themes (Yoga, Cooking or Golf). You can charter the boat starting at US$3,100 per day.
More information on their website: http://www.indonesianislandsail.com/
The expats owners manage two amazing boats: The Katharina, a 40-meter long phinisi boat with 6 cabins and a 14-guest capacity, and the Ombak Putih, a 42-meter traditional Indonesian schooner renovated in 2015 that can accommodate up to 24 guests in 12 cabins.
They sail to some of the most beautiful spots in Indonesia, including Banda, Maluku, Wakatobi, Alor, Lembata, Tidore, Savu and Raja Ampat. Their scheduled cruises often have a special guest on-board, for instance a renowned writer, a scientist or an adventurer. The price starts at US$2,500 for a 7-day cruise. You can also charter the whole boat with the crew starting US$5,400/day.
More information on their website: http://seatrekbali.com/
The Adelaar is a Dutch schooner that offers diving trips departing from Bali. Most of the guests go to the Komodo national marine park, but there are longer excursions to Sumba and Moyo islands on Sumbawa.
Their popular 10-nights/11-days-trip to Komodo in a standard room with ensuite bathroom, air-conditioning and a 120 cm bed costs US$4,000 per person.
More information on their website: http://www.adelaar-cruises.com/
The Mantra is a medium-sized (30 meters) phinisi yacht built in 2015 with 3 cabins. The management organizes cruises in Alor, Raja Ampat and Komodo for prices starting at US$3,000 per night.
More information on their website: http://www.mantradiveandsail.com/
Headed by Dutch national Leo van Oostenbrugge, the Mutiara Laut (Pearl of the Sea) is a schooner inspired by both Western and Indonesian design. It is 46 meters in length and can carry up to 14 passengers plus 15 crew members.
It sails in various parts of Eastern Indonesia: Bali, Lombok, Papua, Banda and Maluku.
Promising the services and amenities of a 5-star, it is available for charter for over US$10,000 per day.
More information on their website: http://www.mutiaralaut.com/
Designed by the Frenchman Georges Carraz, the 31-meter Raja Laut boasts 6 cabins with ensuite bathrooms and air-conditioning.
The crew is made of 7 members from different nationalities and includes a dive instructor and a chef.
Its main destination is the Komodo National Park, but it also sails to Alor, Sulawesi, Papua and Maluku. Charter price approximately US$5,000 per day.
More information on their website: http://www.rajalaut.com/
This cruise ship can accommodate up to 20 passengers in luxurious cabins and its destinations include Raja Ampat, Bali, Komodo and Ambon.
You can book a room for a price starting at US$1,600 per cabin per night, or charter the whole boat for a price between US$10,000 and US$20,000 per day.
More information on their website: http://salila-indonesia.com/
The Samata is a 42-meter phinisi boat with 5 French-designed cabins that can fit up to 10 passengers. Its most frequent destinations are the Komodo marine park, Raja Ampat and the Banda islands. The team can also organize tailor-made trips depending on the customers wishes.
The price is approximately US$10,000 per day or US$60,000 per week.
More information on their website: http://samataliveaboard.com/
The elegant Zen phinisi is a 53-meter yacht belonging to a Polish national based in Hong Kong. With an emphasis on modern design, it boasts 6 bedrooms including a two-level suite master cabin.
It is available for private rent for US$85,000 per week.