Frequently Asked Questions

When I had my resort in East Bali, I had pages of FAQ’s. I covered everything from what to do with aggressive dogs, to how much you should pay for a sarong. I thought I was mad providing so much information – it could only put people off knowing all the “nasties” that may happen. But, it was quite the opposite. People were very grateful for all the information, particularly first time travellers. So now I’ll do the same thing for the boat. And, we may as well cover the “nasties” first…

Will I get stung in the water when I am snorkeling?

Yes. I get stung all the time. But, the stingers are more like an annoying gnat bite, not like our Australian blue bottle stingers. Most stingers are microscopic. Where there are stinging jellyfish – we just won’t snorkel till we find somewhere better.

I’m afraid of sharks.

So am I. Especially juvenile male bull sharks, and great whites. But in Indonesia, we don’t have these sharks. On the reefs you will see black tip, and white tip reef sharks, and maybe a small tiger shark. The reef sharks are really skittish, and flee if they see you. It’s actually hard to get a photo as they take off so quickly. Tiger sharks are stupid and eat anything – even license plates – so if there is one of them around, we’ll exit also.

Sea snakes can kill you.

Yes – absolutely. They are all toxic. But, I do this with all the kids, have a look at the size of a sea snakes mouth. It is way tiny. The only way you are going to get bitten is if you grab the snake, force open it’s mouth, and get it to bite the flesh between you fingers (the only flesh on your body that is small enough to get it’s mouth around.) Plus, they are incredibly shy, and docile. You have more chance of being bitten by a tiny cleaner fish.

Big things in the water scare me.

The first time I saw a manta ray in the water, I thought I was going to die of fright. It was meters below me, having a lovely time feeding on plankton. My guide was a wonderful man called Max McGuire. He said “let the mantas initiate the contact with you.” So heeding his advice, I floated on the surface and these enormous mantas came nowhere near me. My good friend Din, a dive guide in Raja Ampat also has a mantra. She says “fear is good, panic is not.” It’s great advice. The sea is not called the deep blue for no reason at all. It is scary sometimes, but panic is your enemy, not the creatures down deep.

Do I need to bring my own snorkel equipment.

No, but it helps. I can arrange rental equipment for your trip, but it’s expensive. Better to buy – either in Bali or before you leave. This way you are also sure that the equipment fits. There are no shops, on our Indonesian island tours, to get another size flipper if you have purchased badly.

Do I need a wet suit?

Not really. The water temperature is around 28 to 30 degrees most of the year. If you get cold, you can get out – warm up – and get back in. However, it’s up to you.

What else do I need to bring?

I have a real horror of stone fish. These are beyond painful if you step on one. There are a couple of other “icks” so I recommend a good pair of reef shoes. If you don’t have reef shoes, then any old sandshoes that you don’t mind getting wet will do the trick.

What about sun protection in the water?

I never get in the water without a rashie on. There is not enough cream in the world that will protect you in the water for a couple of hours. Full length lycra suits are also popular. They do double duty, as they will protect you somewhat from any small stingers in the water. If you have very short hair, or none at all, a cotton bandana is useful to protect your scalp. Wear it pirate style.

Ahhhhh – Don’t you worry about pirates?

No. It’s like asking you, don’t you worry about getting hit by a bus. There are pirates all over the world. In Indonesia, then like to stay up around the Straits of Malacca – not in East Indonesia. The waters that we sail are not remote. There are ships out there; trading, fishing, cruising plus other Indonesian island tours. We have three men on watch at all time. My crew are Bugis from Sulawesi. The Bugis were so feared for centuries, they were the reason we have the term “boogy man” in English. I like to think with “boogy men” crew, the pirates will be scared of us.

What clothing should I pack?

As little as possible. Light weight long sleeve shirts for sun protection, sarongs serve both men and women well as a form of dress. A hat is a must. We don’t “frock up” for dinner, but it’s nice to have some smart clothes also. A pair of good walking shoes, and a sweater in case it gets chilly at night. Do bring sun protection, and mosquito repellent. These are expensive to buy in Indonesia.

Do I need to take malaria pills?

You will have to check with your doctor. I take them when I am up in Papua, but not when I am down in Bali. Dengue Fever is becoming a problem. Prevention is the only protection for this. Long sleeves, and mosquito repellent. Most nights we will be moored far enough out to sea, that the mosquitos will be really keen to fly all that way for a feed.

I get seasick.

OK, I get this from probably 50% of the people I talk to about the boat. I agree, there is nothing worse. You want to die, but you can’t. But…it does pass. There are a number of great products to prevent it. I personally like the patch that goes on just behind your ear. It’s almost 100% effective. You can get these from your doctor before you leave. The sea is rarely rough, in fact – leaving the harbor is about as bad as it gets. At night, there will always be a protected mooring for a gently rocking, not a turbulent rolling. The trick with any medication is to start taking it BEFORE you get on board. Up to 4 days if you are really sensitive. This way your body has a good dose accumulated before you need it. Don’t wait till the last minute to swallow that pill, as I can guarantee you – it will be too late.

Do I have to bring any other medical supplies?

Again – this is up to you. Check with your doctor. I travel with a small kit with things I may need – such as Betadine, a general anti-biotic, and Panadol. The ship does carry a substantial medical cabinet, but none will get dispersed until I have contact with a doctor, who authorizes it.

Do you know what you are doing?

Hmmmmmmmm. I have done all possible Royal Yachting Association courses. I can navigate. I have current radio license, and sea safety, plus comprehensive first aid. I can inject and suture. I can read a radar, and also strip down a diesel engine and clean valves. I’m as prepared as I can possibly be for our Indonesian island tours.

Is it a good holiday for children?

Yes!! It’s the best. During school holidays, children under the age of 14 travel for free. There is a bunk room that I call “kid zone” that is all theirs. I don’t care if they drop wet towels on the floor. My greatest joy was to be a mother, and I want to share the beauty of Indonesia with others, as I did with my kids.

My children (and I) are not confident in the water.

No problem. There are two boats with us at all time. Less confident swimmers will be closely monitored. If there is any problem at all, they will get picked up by an attending boat. I will have some floating devices for weak swimmers. In my experience, it’s the first couple of times in the water, that are the hardest. For this reason, our first days will be spent in calm waters close to the shore. There are plenty of reef gardens that are not difficult to see. Depending on the group, we can then advance to some more challenging drift snorkels, and explore further from the shore.

My children (and I) don’t like snorkeling.

OK. We are flexible. It’s possible to drop you at a beach if you would prefer that. If you want to hike, I can send a crewman with you with a radio, and you can explore on your own. I also love to stay on the boat, and just read, when everyone is in the water. My crew are very “child friendly” and are happy to watch small children if you want to snorkel with us, or trek. Honestly, the days just pass very quickly. We all have needs, and the Al Iikai cruise works hard to meet all individual needs.

What does Al Iikai mean?

It means “Queen of the Seas.” It’s also written as Alikai. At one point, I thought of changing the name, but the paperwork made me feel like choking. Plus there is all sorts of marine superstition regarding changing a boat’s name. She is such a proud boat, she is very regal. She is a traditional wooden schooner, called a Pinisi – and she is perfect for Indonesian island tours.

What is the food like?

I have a friend who has a hot dog shop in Bali. His advertising is “NO Nasi Goering.” I get a bit that way, having lived up here for so long. So, the food, is a real eclectic mix of East and West. I really miss my salads in the tropics, so salads are a feature. There is no steak for you meat eaters, I just can’t get good quality T-bones. But the beef is OK, I just prefer to serve it as a stir fry or in a salad.

I’m a vegetarian

No a problem. We always have at least two dishes each meal, that are vegetarian based. We are more than happy to make individual vegetarian meals as well.

My child is allergic to nuts.

Tricky. In the past, I have purchased specific pans, plates etc. that are totally separate from the other kitchen utensils for children with allergies. (I also did the same for a Kosher family!) It’s up to you as a parent, how comfortable you are with managing their allergies. I will do whatever from my end, but I do need to work with you regarding supervision of the child at meal times, so that they don’t – in error – eat a slab of satay sauce.

Are my drinks included in the cost?

All non-alcoholic drinks are included in the cost of your cruise. I am happy to supply the mixers of your choice – just let me know in advance if you need tonic for your duty free gin. Beer is local – it’s not bad, and we carry that in stock. It can be purchased for a small fee. We run an honor bar, it’s easier than individual tabs. Wine is a nightmare!!! We are limited to local wine. It’s drinkable with ice, but it’s far from quality wine. There are a number of wine wholesalers in Denpasar who do carry stock of imported wine. If you are a wine drinker, I can contact the wholesalers prior to your arrival, and purchase whatever you need. Fruit smoothies are limited. We just don’t have the space to carry 300 mangos in case there is a run on mango smoothies. Same for pineapples, etc. It sadly comes down to space and waste.

I’ve read you shouldn’t have ice in your drink.

Nonsense. All ice, and water, is bottled. All cooking water is bottled. Your shower water is desalinated – so you won’t get sick from drinking it, it’s just not as nice. Talking of water, please try and bring a water bottle with you. I do have individual bottled water, but we’re trying to reduce our waste, and I prefer you re-fill these bottle as needed. It’s imperative that all people leaving the boat, take water with them. Heat exhaustion is so preventable if you stay hydrated. Even in the water, I suggest a water break every 30 minutes or so.

Other boats offer an expedition leader with local knowledge.

We do also. Working closely with Wallacea Expeditions – Indonesian Island Tours, it’s possible to get an expert in any field along for the trip. There is an extra charge for this. This is really suited to a group who charter the entire boat with specific needs – such as bird watchers. Your expedition leader will plan your day to see what you desire, and end the day with a lecture under the stars.

I’m a solo traveller.

Great!! So am I!! I’m playing this one by ear. If I have the minimum needed to cover my costs for any sail, there will be no single supplement. However, I do my break-even on cabins booked. I normally approach the travel companies, and tell them I am a single and don’t want to pay a supplement. Most companies are happy to work with us “solo’s” now, and fit us in where possible. Having said this, the cabin rate is very competitive, so if you don’t have the flexibility to travel when cabins need to be filled, you can take an entire cabin.

I’m travelling with my friend. Can we share a room, but not a bed?

Yes, there are two cabins that are specifically designed for twin beds. These can be apart for individuals, or together for a couple.

Can my children sleep in my cabin?

Depends how many you have. All cabins will have either a sofa, or a day bed that can double as a child’s bed. If you have a handful of older children, they will have to go to the bunkroom unless you wish to purchase a cabin for them. However, we aim to be as flexible as possible with sleeping arrangements, so everyone is happy.

Can three of us share a cabin?

Yes, but the day beds are not really comfortable for adults! Not long enough! Again, contact me, and we will see what we can work out for you.

I like to fish.

And we like to help you fish. You can trawl when we are at sea, or drop a line over when we are at anchor. If you need to be out there as the sun comes up, we can send you out with a crew in a tender. We will have basic fishing equipment on board, but if you need something specific, just let us know.

I’m gay and prefer to travel with those of a similar orientation.

I’m going to trial some pink only cruises and see how they go. A friend who has a gay resort in Bali will be working as my agent on these. They will not be in the school holidays, as this is kids time. The easiest thing is to like me on Facebook, and then when I post specific “needs” cruises, you will get the feed.

How big are the rooms?

Well, they are not villa sizes, but they are much larger than the average pinisi in Indonesia. Currently there are 13 double/triple rooms. I am reducing these to just 5 cabins and a bunk room. All will have an ensuite bathroom, and ducted air conditioning. The cabins below deck will be the largest, as the are next to the kids bunkroom. It’s designed for families below, where space is needed. The three cabins up top have less space, but they will have a view and balconies.

I’m not really a social person. Can I still enjoy my cruise?

Yes. The ship has a number of “quiet” areas for you to make your own. There are four oversized day beds on the main deck. There is a small lounge/reading area. The top deck has shade and beanbags for relaxing in. Meals are served at the same time, but we are happy to serve meals in your cabin.

I’m worried my child will fall overboard.

So am I. I have specific rules for kids at sea. They need to be supervised if they are going to an upstairs cabin. They can’t sit on the edge of the boat while we are moving. It’s a bit like having an unfenced pool. If you need to leave the child unattended for any reason while we are moving, please “hand” them over to another responsible adult for supervision.

Is there Wi-Fi?

No. There will be 3G coverage where we get mobile phone coverage. There is also no TV’s, DVD’s or video games. Sorry. There is so much to do, TV and video games can wait till you get home.

I need to check in with the office every day.

Again, sorry, you probably won’t be able to. When we sail in Papua, we have two weeks with no coverage (even mobile phones) at all. The first couple of days are hell. Then you get use to it. At the end, you won’t even feel like checking your emails. If it’s helpful, I can tell you how to contact us by radio.

Do I need any visas?

No, we sail only in Indonesia – so your visa on arrival is sufficient. I do need a copy of your passport for the various harbor masters, and will ask you to email this to me prior to your arrival.

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