With more and more visitors to the Gili Islands, the Gili Cat Express, one of the many leading marine operators operating the Bali to Trawangan route, are preparing to launch a new 20-meter, 70-passenger vessel to provide a regular service between the Balinese port of Padang Bai to the Gili Islands with an extension leg to Lombok island.
In order to meet the ever increasing demand of visitors to the Gili islands, the new vessel is scheduled to enter service in late 2010 or early 2011.
Recent mishaps underline the need for higher quality vessels capable of handling the strong currents and sometimes high seas found in the 34 nautical mile crossing separating Padang Bai and the Gili Islands.
While fast boats between Bali and Lombok and the Gilis are generally considered as a safe and convenient hassle free option for transport between the islands, people need to understand the importance of choosing a fast boat service that meets international safety standards and holds the appropriate passenger carrying licences and insurance for their passengers.
Not surprising in Indonesia, many operators do not meet these criteria, please bear in mind you get what you pay for, when an operator is drastically undercutting the price of other services, they are most likely to also be not operating legally, do not carry any or enough safety equipment, and are possibly poorly maintained.
The new vessel soon to be launched by Gili Cat meets this criteria. Built at a cost of US $1.5 million, the all aluminum vessel was designed in Australia with structural plans approved by Det Norske Veritas (DNV), an International Classification Society. Hull and superstructure were pre-cut and shipped to Indonesia for assembly and final fit out. The final construction and sea trials are being overseen by Biro Klasifikasi Indonesia (BKI) – the Indonesian Republic’s national classification society, who will certify the construction, machinery, safety equipment and crewing do conform to international standards. The Gili Cat 3 boat will be powered by twin 1200 hp diesel engines.
According to Gili Cat, “It is a significant capital investment and it does have some strategic risks from the competition posed by other operators with smaller, cheaper, locally produced boats. Visitors need to realise that the traveling public expects, quite rightly, comfortable and safe means of getting them and their families to the Gili Islands and Lombok“.
As a group, Gili fast boat operators need to maintain strict safety standards as set by the Government of Indonesia as well as the expectations of many foreign governments whose citizens are carrieed on these boats. A serious incident resulting in loss of life will not only affect all fast boats, but the Gili Islands tourism market and the reputation of Indonesia as a whole.
Please note – Island Promotions Travel only recommends boat operators that do fulfill all the appropriate criteria and are maintained properly and that do meet full international safety standards.