Today I received copies of letters handed out to the passengers and crew members on the Celebrity Solstice indicating that the cruise ship will not be calling on Bali (Benoa) due to the potential of a terrorist attack.
As you can see below, the letter distributed to the passengers yesterday mentions travel warnings about potential terrorist attacks in Bali issued by the Australian and U.K. governments. In addition, the letter signed by Captain Yannis Berdos, states that:
"the most recent information received in the past few days indicates that the possibility of an incident has increased. Also the Balinese New Year on March 9th, and recent past advisories has named this date as one that would be targeted by terrorists. Based on all of this information we have gathered from various sources, and in discussion with our Global Security team in Miami, we have made a decision to cancel our call to Bali."
The letter mentions (not to nitpick) that Celebrity felt that it "could not guarantee" passenger safety in Bali due to these concerns. Of course, cruise lines have no legal duty to "guarantee" safety but only to act reasonably and to warn passengers of dangers which the cruise companies know or should know about ashore in ports of call.
It looks like Celebrity is acting prudently in taking steps to reduce the threat of harm to its passengers and crew. I have been critical in the past of cruise lines when they cruise passenger into dangerous ports of call, like when Costa and MSC sailed into La Goulette, Tunisia and ISIS slaughtered several dozen cruise passengers.
The letter sent to the Celebrity crew members today by the Solstice’s Executive Team mentions what is referred to as "credible security concerns" that led to the decision to bypass Bali.
Many crew members are from Indonesia and will now be unable to visit with their family and loved ones.
The 2002 Bali bombings (photo above) occurred in October of 2002 in the tourist district of Kuta on Bali. The attack killed over 200 people (including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, and people from more than 20 other nationalities). An additional 200 people were also injured.
Jemaah Islamiyah members, a violent Islamist group supported by al-Qaeda, were convicted of engaging in the bombings which involved the detonation of a backpack bomb by a suicide bomber and a large car bomb. Three of the terrorists were executed. A recording from Osama Bin Laden stated that the Bali bombings were in retaliation for support of the United States’ war on terror and Australia’s role in the liberation of East Timor.
The Jakarta Post recently published an article stating that cruise tourism is increasing in Bali, the country’s most famous tourist destination. In 2015, 58 cruise ships arrived on the island.
March 7, 2016 Update:
A local newspaper in Bali questions the timing of the cancellation, writing: "questions have been raised by at least one passenger via postings on Facebook on the timing of the cancellation of the visit to Bali. The last warning from the Australian Government urging extreme caution for those traveling to Indonesia was issued on February 25th – a date well in advance of the Celebrity Solstice’s departure from Australia to Bali. . . . Questions are being raised as to why the decision and announcement on Bali’s removal from the cruise itinerary not delivered to passengers prior sailing?"
Trave Agent Central points out that Celebrity’s sister cruise line Royal Caribbean, which shares the same Global Security team, is sailing the Radiance of the Seas to Bali later this month as well as in April.
Top photo: HWT Image Library via news.com.au
Passenger letter credit: NorbertsNiece from Cruise Critic a/k/a ‘Linda Lemer Ward
Crew letter credit: Anonymous