While I was attending high school in Indonesia, I learnt the existence of the Karimunjawa archipelago. It is a chain of 27 islands and located about 115 kilometers north of Semarang, off the coast of Central Java. The main islands are Karimunjawa island, Kemujan island, Menjangan Besar (Big Deer) island and Menjangan Kecil (Small Deer) island. Only three of the many small islands are inhabited. During my high school period, I just regarded the archipelago as a regular geography subject and nothing more.
However, thirteen years later and now living in the Netherlands, I had not expected Karimunjawa to be as regular as I had thought before. In fact, being designated as a national marine park and featuring low lying islands with sandy beaches, the archipelago turns out to be a hidden paradise!
Since Karimunjawa archipelago is mostly accessible from Semarang, my partner and I decided to squeeze in a short visit before continuing our journey to Bali. Upon gathering more information about the archipelago, we consulted TripAdvisor which just gave us that tiny push to book with Kura Kura Resort.
Kura Kura Resort is located on Menyawakan island, one of the three inhabited islands of Karimunjawa archipelago. To get there, you will have to go to Karimunjawa island first either by a charter flight or a regular rapid ferry. In case of charter flight, we would have to pay USD 800 (about EUR 594) for both us. Well, I do love flying, but I would rather spend those bucks on another occasion. So, our remaining option was the rapid ferry.
The company’s website looked basic. We realized that we could not expect any sophisticated online booking facility. But at least if the company relies on e-mail for customer contacts, the company’s staff members should be responsive to their (future) customers.
At one stage, I submitted a booking inquiry for two of us. Unfortunately no answer came. When I sent a reminder three days later, the only reply I got was like, “We have passed on your booking request. Unfortunately, we still have not got any reply from the booking department due to an ongoing meeting,”
Hence we decided to cancel the whole inquiry and turned to Kura Kura Resort to include the ferry transfer into the arrangement.
There were several European travel agents offering arrangements with Kura Kura Resort. In spite of it, we decided to get in touch with the resort directly. Although the website was appealing and informative, the resort did not allow any online booking facility yet. A direct reservation can only be inquired by e-mail. It was not such a big deal actually since, unlike the ferry company, the booking officer responded promptly provided they received your e-mails during the local office hours.
Our local officer, Nita, took care of our booking and arranged a three day half-board package including the ferry and pick-up service from the harbor of Karimunjawa island for USD 876 (about EUR 651). Unfortunately, we could not settle down the bill by credit card and had to wire transfer the sum instead. It was not such a hassle since our bank allowed online remission. However, I urged Nita to notify me upon the receipt of our payment.
Six days passing by and still no message from Nita. On the following day after my reminder, I got a reply from Nita who was apologetic for not notifying me any sooner. A confirmation letter containing the details of our reservation came as attachment of the reply. The last thing Nita needed to know was the address of our hotel where she could deliver our ferry tickets. A little bit cumbersome, but for what we were about to experience, it was worth it.
Our ferry tickets were delivered at our Novotel hotel room the evening before departure by a colleague of Nita.
After our trip to Karimunjawa, we were thinking to move ahead to Surabaya. Since most flights to SUB leave in the morning, the conceivable option was the evening flight of Sriwijaya Air.
Unlike Mandala or Indonesia AirAsia, SJ did not offer online booking facility yet. As the matter of fact, I learnt from SJ’s Indonesian call centre that the tickets could only be purchased directly at either their ticketing offices or local travel agents. Since we had a reservation with Novotel Semarang, I sent an e-mail to Novotel’s booking department to find out whether they could help us arranging two one-way tickets to SUB.
It looked like it was not an easy task since Novotel did not respond promptly as usual. After several days, we got notified that our tickets had been booked on the condition of our payment fulfillment within four days. Apparently, Novotel enlisted services of a local travel agent. We were told that we had to contact one Titin for any further inquiry regarding our tickets. I did it promptly as I was wondering how to settle the down the bill. Four days might be too short for money remission. Unfortunately, two days was passing by and no answer came. I even checked our spam box to be on the safe side.
A reminder went out and we got finally a reply from Titin finally the following day along with a request to transfer the payment to her company’s bank account. Unfortunately, she gave us scanty details about it. Therefore, I immediately followed her e-mail up for additional details. Then again, no answer came. I could just not understand this attitude towards customers who were willing to pay.
Eventually, my partner and I decided to revoke our travel plan to SUB and thanked Titin for her efforts so far. Instead we decided to reroute ourselves through Jakarta before continuing to Denpasar the following day. Failed to sample SJ, we took the opportunity to fly with another exotic airline, Batavia Air.
Y6 allows you to book and become an online member. But unlike RI, Y6 did not display any fare deals but announcements like inaugural flights or signature domestic wide-body routes.
As an online member, you are basically entitled to all features. Regarding the payment methods, Y6 still distinguishes Indonesian, Singaporean and other overseas customers. Just like RI, we could only use PayPal to settle down our bill instead of credit cards. But, after our experience with RI, we did not mind. We secured two one-way tickets to CGK at a total price of USD 86 (about EUR 66). Our booking confirmation was promptly delivered upon verification by PayPal.
Well, this part may be misplaced in this row. But I just cannot deny you this one. During our visit to Indonesia, I took the opportunity to meet up some local aviation enthusiasts. Well, I am an active member as well of Indoflyer.
I invited some Indoflyer fellows from Semarang for a meeting. They gladly accepted my invitation. Couple days before our departure from Netherlands, I exchanged mobile phone number with one of them fellow. We then agreed to meet each other at the airport.
The structure of this thread is twofold. The non-aviation part consist of our ferry trip to Karimunjawa archipelago, our stay at Kura Kura Resort, unforeseen road trip halfway of our return trip to Semarang. The aviation part is our flight with Y6 to CGK.