Frequently Asked Questions
While many of you are seasoned travellers, some may be unfamiliar with the unique ways and means of travelling on a liveaboard in the often extremely remote regions we visit. Cruising through eastern Indonesia on a traditional wooden schooner can be a brave new world for many. With that in mind, we have compiled the following list of Frequently Asked Questions to try and make your journey with us as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.
You may also want to download our Cruise Information Package on PDF, which will give you a large amount of information on a list of topics, including chapters on What To Bring and Know Before You Go, as well as some handy checklists for packing.
If you don’t find the answer to your own particular question, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
April to September is the ‘dry season’, although rain showers and thunderstorms can be expected all year around. During this season the weather and seas are settled and relatively calm and we sail mostly north of the islands in the central part of Indonesia, like Komodo, where ships can operate in the lee of the islands and enjoy protection from wind and swell.
Come October as the trade winds and monsoons turn, the rains will come more regularly and we head to the general dryer north and east of the archipelago and into the Maluku and Papua regions, home to the Spice Islands and the wondrous, mind-boggling biodiverse region of Raja Ampat.
All travellers to Indonesia must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six (6) months from the date of DEPARTURE from Indonesia, and have proof (tickets) of onward or return passage.
Since 2015, Indonesia offers short stay Visa Free facilities, also called Visa Exemption, for tourists who are nationals of more than 160 countries, including most Asian and European countries, Canada & the USA, and Australia & New Zealand. The tourist free visa stamp is valid for 30 days, it is non-extendable and it cannot be transferred to any other type of stay permit.
Citizens of a small number of countries, however, do not enjoy this privilege and have to apply for a visa in their country of origin prior to arrival. If you are not sure whether your passport entitles you to a free visa stamp, or if you wish to stay longer than 30 days, we recommend you consult the following Indonesian government website for more information:
No, we do not provide any flight bookings. With the vast amount of search and booking tools that are available online, you (or your agent) should have no trouble finding appropriate flights at rates that we can simply not compete against.
When booking your flights, please bear in mind that it is your responsibility to arrive at the location of embarkation before our departure time of 12:00 noon and that you should allow for sufficient margin in case of flight delays, which are quite common on Indonesian domestic airlines.
Embarkation time on Mutiara Laut is before 12 noon. Please make sure to schedule flight arrival times that allow us to arrange embarkation before 12 o’clock in order to avoid delays in our schedule and discomfort for our other guests. If you cannot obtain a flight arriving early enough, then the best solution is to come a day early and stay overnight in a hotel near the harbour where we can come and pick you up for your transfer to the ship in the morning. Your cabin will be available on the day of embarkation from 7 am onwards.
Please consider the benefits of planning at least one overnight stay near the point of embarkation before the cruise. Long-haul international flights with plane changes in hubs along the way always pose the risk of luggage (dive gear!) not making it through the layover, and domestic flights in Indonesia regularly suffer significant delays.
Quite often it will be a challenge to simply find flights that get you to the point of embarkation in time to make our 12 o’clock sailing time and, besides that, it is never fun to arrive on the boat in warm winter clothing: an overnight stay before the cruise will give you a margin to cover delays and a chance to freshen up after the long journey inbound.
The check-out time on the last day of the trip is 11 am. All cabins need to be vacated before 11 am and the latest debarkation time is 12 noon.
Passengers with an (early) morning departure flight will be taken to the airport well in time to make their flight. For passengers with a (late) afternoon departure flight, we will organise a transfer at noon to a hotel or a location of their choice near the harbour or the airport.
The short answer is: no, most of the time there will not be any significant internet access when we’re at sea. While we do provide internet connection with free wifi on board whenever and wherever possible, having any kind of onboard capacity for speedy internet access is a near impossibility considering the remote regions we navigate. Our itineraries often put us way beyond the reach of any consistent land-based signal, and with the prices of satellite internet being what they are, this is just something we cannot offer.
There are cell towers all over the country, and we will come into range of these from time to time, allowing for the sending and receiving of SMS and small emails using our ship’s free wifi access. This is by no means guaranteed: often these cell towers operate solely on solar power, offering no more than 2G service, and we can sometimes be off the grid for up to a week at a time, particularly in the far east or north of the country.
You also have the option to increase your connection possibilities through the purchasing of a local SIM card here in Indonesia prior to your cruise, from any one of a vast number of cell phone stores at airports and in city centres. Nevertheless, better count on being offline most of the time.
We like to think of this as a positive. With the need to be online 24/7 becoming an all-encompassing factor of modern living, being able to go to places that are off the grid will only become more of a luxury as we march forward into a digital future. With that in mind, MSY Mutiara Laut will be one of those digital-free oases where you can truly switch off and enjoy the natural world around you, free from any outside distraction. For those who don’t often get the luxury of switching off, it will be a beautiful experience, we assure you.
Please note: If you run a business that requires you to be constantly online, or simply cannot be without a regular connection for any reason, then a cruise on a liveaboard in these remote parts of Indonesia may not be the best match for you.
The voltage on board is 220 volts. There are several electric sockets in each cabin suitable for European type plugs, so you may need to bring adaptors for non-European type plugs. Additional sockets are located in the saloon/dining lounge and in a few locations on deck.
For a detailed list of items to bring, including some handy checklists, please download our PDF Cruise Information package here.
Mutiara Laut cruises include all meals. Our talented chefs will prepare an array of Western and Asian dishes each day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with snacks available throughout the day. In general, breakfast and lunch are served as a buffet, dinner is served on the plate.
Special dietary requirements and allergies are no problem: simply let us know the details well before the cruise and our chefs will ensure you are taken care of. We can cater to special requests such as vegetarian, gluten free or halal, but we must be notified in advance of any special needs so we can make arrangements.
Only for alcoholic beverages. We offer free soft drinks, water, juices, tea & coffee.
We try to keep the prices for local beer and wine as low as possible. However, alcohol taxes in Indonesia are extremely high, so we must charge higher prices for imported wines and spirits.
In the event that you would like us to procure something special, such as French champagne or specific liquor, just let us know beforehand and we will do our best to find it.
Please note that we do not allow anybody to bring on board any bottles of alcoholic beverages that do not have the proper Indonesian customs’ duty stamps. Furthermore, a modest corkage fee of US$ 10 per bottle will be charged to your room account for any bottle of alcoholic beverage that you bring and consume on board.
Yes, there is a surcharge of 60% on the published rate for the single use of a cabin.
On full private charters, we will happily welcome families with children aboard MSY Mutiara Laut. Throughout the years we have hosted a great number of children of all ages, and without exception they have enjoyed the cruises immensely, especially on the shorter trips.
The opportunity to experience nature, culture and the great outdoors that we offer on our cruises provide more in one week for a child’s education and outlook on life than any school can teach in the classroom. And nothing beats jumping of the bow into the open sea, or bouncing over the waves on the inflatable doughnut behind our speedboat.
Our crew is absolutely great with children and they enjoy the trips with kids almost as much as the kids themselves! Most of our crew members have children of their own and that clearly shows as they will quickly become best mates with your little ones.
On FIT cabin cruises however, first and foremost we have to take into account the comfort of the other guests, and so as a standard policy we do not allow children under the age of 8 on our FIT join-in cruises. Exceptions can be made under certain conditions, and any request for children on our trips will be evaluated on a case by case basis, but as small babies and toddlers like to cry, we can under no circumstances allow them on board our FIT cruises.
It’s not easy trying to please all guests, but all we can do is try our best to accommodate everyone. So in the interest of openness and honesty, we will require that all guests with children strictly observe some simple rules and recommendations, especially regarding boat safety and the comfort of other passengers.
Many of us have kids and know how difficult it can be at times to keep their youthful exuberances under control, especially when on holidays. But there are times and places to be wild, and times and places where restraint and discipline are in order. While we love our youngest guests to have a great time, our ship is not that big and it’s very easy to disrupt or disturb other people who are trying to relax or simply enjoy the world go by. With this in mind, you will have to be stern, together with us, in asking your kids to keep their noise and youthful energy to a minimum on board. When we get to shore, they can run and play around to their hearts’ content.
Also, parents should at all times be aware of the numerous potential dangers that surround us on the ship and in the tropical environments we visit, both on land and on water. Whether on land, on the boat or in the water, it will always remain the parents’ responsibility to keep their children safe! Ours is a working ship and has many potential hazards, so please let your kids know to be careful when moving around on board. When on land, parents will be required to get their children to refrain from getting too close to animals or straying off the path, to stay within sight and to avoid hazards. While we understand that parents need their holiday too, you will still have to remain vigilant, responsible and alert to watch your children at all times.
Our crew are not nannies. While they are simply amazing with kids and will show them all a fun time, our crew members all have designated full time duties and cannot be expected to look after the kids at any time. When their work is over and it comes time for play, our crew will often be more than happy to entertain your kids all they like.
We know that kids get bored easily so we’ll provide plenty of activities to help keep them occupied during the day. We have some games and toys on board, but if there’s a particular board game or activity they like, just let us know and we will do our best to accommodate them. We don’t have electronic games on board, but most kids have their own. We also don’t have reliable internet on board, so online gaming will not be possible.
And if your kids have a particular toy or game they like, a favourite bedtime storybook or colouring book, or that unmissable teddy bear or indispensable fluffy doll, then please don’t forget to bring it!
On a practical note, we do not carry diapers on board and children should be capable of using “big people” toilets, chairs and cutlery.
MSY Mutiara Laut carries a comprehensive first aid kit and a selection of over the counter medication to treat all kinds of minor ailments and injuries. However, it is always advisable to bring your own first aid and medical kit and to bring an ample supply of any prescribed medications you may need.
Never leave even the tiniest cut or coral bruise untreated as it can quickly get infected in the tropical climate. We have the means to treat such cuts and abrasions on board, but it is advisable to bring your own preferred brands of antiseptic ointments and basic first aid materials.
Remember that medical care beyond basic first aid, due to the sometimes remote regions visited, is not always immediately available. Therefore, if you have a physical, dietary, or any other condition for which you may require special attention, please inform us in writing when the booking is made. If you require medicines such as insulin, or hardware such as asthma inhalers or epi-pens, please make sure you have a sufficient supply at hand.
While our crew are trained in first aid and will do our very best to take action, we assume no responsibility for any medical care provided to you.
Our trips have varying levels of fitness requirements depending on the specific itinerary and activities, yet each one is optional. The minimum level of fitness we do require is that you are able to negotiate stairs between decks, and to be able to clamber in and out of our tender boats onto beaches and docks. We try, where possible, to offer activities to suit all levels: for instance, when trekking in Komodo we have easy to medium treks available so everyone gets a chance for a dragon encounter. When other treks or activities are beyond the reach of some guests, we offer the option of staying on the boat or beach to relax.
For scuba divers, the standards are set higher and it goes without saying that they have to conform to the required fitness levels that are associated with the mandatory diving certifications they hold.
Please inform us in writing and at the time of booking if you have a physical, dietary, or any other condition for which you may require our special attention.
Seasickness is not something to take lightly, as it can thoroughly ruin your day, or even your entire holiday. Most of the time though, the waters in our sailing areas are pretty calm and it is not really common for our guests to suffer from seasickness. However, even if you think that your stomach is rock-solid, a squall could turn up and make you feel sick.
If you are prone to seasickness we advise you to consult with your pharmacist or doctor at home to advise the best seasickness tablets for your specific condition. Locally-produced seasickness pills are readily available on board. These are most effective, and it is best to take them at least one hour before departure and to keep taking them for at least the first couple of days of the trip. For most people, seasickness usually passes after a day or two, once they get used to the motion of the ship.
Malaria has very little incidence offshore and you will spend the better part of the voyage on board, where mosquitoes do not venture at all. Still, on quite a few of our itineraries, we do visit areas on land that are prone to malaria infection.
Overall, the best remedy against malaria (and other mosquito-borne viruses) is to avoid being bitten, so if you have the experience of easily attracting mosquitoes, we advise you to wear long trousers and shirts that cover up the skin during island visits and treks. Apart from that, you should bring enough stock of good quality mosquito repellent and use it before each trek and shore visit, especially in the early morning and the late afternoon.
If you want stronger protection you can take malaria prophylactics in tablet form.
We recommend you check with your local doctor at home what they recommend and what is best suited for you.
MSY Mutiara Laut abides by, and surpasses, all mandatory and legal requirements for liveaboards in Indonesia and worldwide in regards to the safety standards, facilities and equipment on board, as well as the safety education and training of its crew.
We carry 3 self-inflating life rafts with a total carrying capacity of 65 people, which supplement our 3 speedboats. Numerous rescue buoys are located around the ship, and life jackets are easily found in designated locations in the cabins and on deck, with a ratio of 3 available jackets per passenger.
Furthermore, the ship is fitted out with an internationally recognised standard list of both electronic as well as mechanical safety equipment and infrastructure, including multiple radar and radio systems with redundant back-ups, a high-end collision avoidance system, NAVTEX weather radar, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and Search & Rescue Radar Transponders (SART), search lights and a Inmarsat Satellite Phone for emergencies.
Three independently operated generators guarantee an uninterrupted power supply and two anchors and bow thrusters provide safe anchorage and manoeuvring capabilities.
Fire fighting equipment and infrastructure is located throughout the ship and the crew regularly carries out fire fighting drills. Our crew is trained and follows regular refresher courses in First Aid and Safety At Sea programs. Besides standard first aid kits, we also carry a modern AED (Automated External Defibrillator) unit and emergency oxygen supplies.
At the start of every cruise, all passengers will be required to attend a boat safety briefing, during which safety and emergency procedures will be explained and the location of various safety devices is pointed out.
We carry a substantial selection of standard dive equipment on board, which is available for rent or often made available for free use. However, our stock is limited and most items only come in the most common sizes. If you require items in specific sizes, colours, or from specific brands, it is best to bring them yourself or at least inquire first whether or not we have them available for you.
We mostly dive in tropical waters with temperatures averaging between 27 and 29°C (80 to 84°F), but occasionally we’ll visit dive sites that can be much colder, sometimes down to 23°C (72°F). On board, we only carry 3 mm wetsuits. If you are chilly easily, it may be wise to bring a 5 mm wetsuit or a vest, with or without a hood.
For rental equipment and for equipment that is free to use, a Rental Agreement will have to be signed at the start of the trip. All equipment will have to be returned to us in good working condition at the end of the trip. Any lost or damaged equipment will incur charges based on the replacement value of the lost or damaged item as indicated on the Rental Agreement.
For an overview of available diving equipment and rental fees, please go to Variable Surcharges.
There are no discounts for non-divers since our operating costs remain the same whether guests go diving or not.
When none of the guests are diving there will inevitably be a substantially increased use of our speed boats for more frequent trips and visits on shore and for other water activities such as snorkelling, wakeboarding or water skiing. Even when guests go sea kayaking or paddle boarding, our tenders are dispatched to keep an eye on them. For non-divers, all kinds of other activities will be provided based on their interests, at no extra charge.
On mixed trips with divers and non-divers, our Dive Team does not only look after the scuba divers but also takes care of snorkelers, finding interesting and safe locations, reading currents and evaluating potential hazards. For snorkelers, our tenders will be used just as much as for divers. Please also remember that we provide snorkelling equipment for free, while all diving gear needs to be rented at a surcharge.
On private charters, there will always be a Dive Guide on board, no matter whether the guests are divers or not. This is just in case the guests wish to go snorkelling or decide to go diving after all. Quite often the Dive Guide will also be just as knowledgeable about places of interest above water as underwater, and will then function as a valuable local guide on land.
Even in the rare case that one or more guests prefer to do absolutely nothing at all and stay on board full time, there are no significant savings for us in our total operational cost, which is why we cannot offer them any discounts. After all, to use a hotel stay for comparison: if you book a room in a resort, there will also not be any discount if you don’t use their gardens or swimming pool or any other of the facilities and services that are included in your room rate.
Yes. Our published cabin rate is a basic rate per person per night, based on our shortest itinerary with minimal additional costs. On top of the published rate, we have to charge Variable Surcharges for expenses that often fluctuate beyond our control and which depend on the distances travelled for a particular itinerary (Fuel Adder), the fees that are imposed on us by local government institutions for a particular itinerary (Port and Park Fees), and certain optional services based on the guests’ needs (Nitrox and Dive Gear Rental).
Variable Surcharges are additional surcharges on top of the published rates, which either fluctuate based on the booked itinerary (Port & Park Fees and Fuel Adder) or which are applied for additional services that are not included in the basic cabin rate (Dive Gear Rental and Nitrox diving).
PORT & PARK FEES include anchorage & mooring levies as well as dive passes, visitor permits and entrance fees for regional harbours, conservation parks and zones. These charges are imposed on visiting liveaboards and on their passengers at the discretion of local harbour & port masters, shahbandars, village authorities & regional government officials. Often these levies change unannounced and arbitrarily, and they can wildly vary from port to port, from season to season and from area to area.
FUEL ADDER surcharges cover the extra mileage & marine fuel expenses that are required to execute certain itineraries that bring us to very remote areas of Indonesia.
Since prices for all of these expenses often fluctuate substantially and unexpectedly, the surcharges listed above are variable and can be increased or decreased at any time, with immediate effect and without prior notice.
All Variable Surcharges have to be paid in full by the passenger on board on the last day of the cruise, either in cash or by credit card.
Yes, absolutely. During the cruise, you will enjoy the incomparable service of well-trained, friendly and super-efficient Indonesian crew members, and it is a time-honoured tradition on all cruise vessels of the world to tip the crew at the end of the voyage, provided of course you have been satisfied with their services.
While it is customary in Indonesia for nearly all hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as for most liveaboards, to add up to 15% “Service Charge” (on top of 11% Government Tax) to your bill/invoice, we deliberately choose not to enforce any “hidden” costs upon our guests. Therefore, on your final night on board, we will encourage you to discreetly contribute to a collective ‘crew tip fund’, which will be distributed by the captain equally among all our crew members and dive staff.
In the liveaboard community, a tip of around 10% of the cabin rate per cruising day is considered an appropriate amount. However, this is just a suggestion and remains entirely up to your judgment and discretion.
Upon your request, our Cabin Boy will provide you with an envelope which you can use to seal your cash tip and give to the captain. Some guests prefer to add their tip for the crew to the settlement of their drink bill with credit card, which is acceptable as well, but a cash tip is always preferred in order to prevent the crew getting taxed on tips.
No, our rates never include travel, medical or dive insurance.
We have substantial insurance coverage for our vessel and for our passengers under policies that can be compared to, let’s say, your average car insurance. However, just like if your travelling on a plane or on a public bus, there is no travel or medical insurance included.
Our cruise price does not include travel insurance, and it is mandatory that all guests must have a comprehensive policy that covers medical expenses with an emergency evacuation policy (Medivac). Proof of this must be shown on request.
We also strongly urge our guests to purchase a comprehensive insurance policy that covers trip cancellation and interruption insurance.
We require all diving passengers aboard MSY Mutiara Laut to submit proof of a valid insurance policy that explicitly mentions coverage for scuba diving activities, including membership card and policy number, before being allowed to take part in any diving activities. Scuba divers are well advised to update their dive insurance policy before travelling.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL PASSENGERS WISHING TO TAKE PART IN SCUBA DIVING ACTIVITIES ORGANISED BY MSY MUTIARA LAUT ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE A VALID DIVE INSURANCE POLICY!
Exotic Yacht Charter Bali and Mutiara Laut do not provide cover nor do we have a preferred broker.
Upon boarding, we will require all passengers to fill out and sign a standard Boat Travel liability release form, and for scuba divers to sign an additional declaration of their good physical condition. Nitrox divers will also have to sign a specific liability release form. Copies of these liability releases can be sent on request.
Definitely. We basically offer two different kinds of Full Private Charters: inside schedule and outside schedule.
If you charter the boat “Inside Schedule”, then it means you will follow our published schedule as far as the dates and the locations of embarkation and debarkation are concerned. The entire vessel is basically yours, which means you can use all 7 cabins as you like and you have much liberty in filling in the contents and the route of your cruise, in as far as we can execute your program inside the duration of your cruise. Even if you want to make your cruise a day or two longer than our scheduled trip, we may still consider it “inside schedule” if it doesn’t interfere with trips that are scheduled prior or after your preferred period of travel.
Details on charter rates inside schedule, with inclusions and exclusions, can be found here.
A Private Charter Outside Schedule will give you the option to freely choose your dates of embarkation and debarkation, no matter what our schedule says. You may even choose the starting and end location of your trip, even though we may have to charge additional relocation charges if your chosen cruising area is far away from our scheduled trips before and/or after your’s.
Rates for charters outside schedule are based on ad-hoc quotations depending on duration, locations and itineraries.