Sunday, February 12, 2006

A budget Borneo cruise soon

Labuan: A romantic budget cruise along the Borneo coastline and calling at ports in Sarawak, Brunei, here, and Sabah will become reality soon. The cruise designed for the not-so-rich and inspired by the success of budget airlines like Airasia, is a joint venture between Indonesian-based Pelni Lines and Labuan's Farz Services Sdn Bhd.

Operating the services would be a 1982 German-built six-deck vessel with capacity to carry 2,000 passengers and a cruising speed of 20 knots.

Among the facilities are swimming pool, karaoke, spa, fitness room, gift/drug shops, caf? movie theatre, cyber-caf?and conference room.

The ship is now undergoing renovations and expected to be ready in six months.

Speaking at a ceremony to exchange the "Letter of Intent" between the firms, Farz Services Managing Director, Hajjah Fauziah Datuk Haji Mohd Din said:

"We hope the joint venture will not only help boost the tourism industry of Indonesia and Malaysia but also stand out as a flagship of co-operation between companies of BIMP-EAGA."

"Pelni Lines had been in freighter and launch service business since 1952 while we have been in tourism. As such we felt our alliance will be ideal for tourism venture in the maritime industry."

She added that since Labuan was sitting in the centre of the Borneo coast, it be used as the hub for cruise travel. Both firms were confident that cruise travel would be a success as its budget rates would make it affordable.

The Chief Executive Officer of Pelni Lines, Siti Hajar Tumin, said to reflect the co-operation between the Indonesian and Malaysian companies, the name of the cruise vessel would be "Pel-Faz".

She said the cruise would operate on a rotation basis between two sectors - the Borneo coastline and Sulawesi island. The vessel would be based in Sulawesi port to cater to the 30 million population in the area.

She said people would have the opportunity to enjoy cruise to a further region meaning from Sulawesi to Borneo coastline and vice versa.

On the background of the company, she said that it had invested about US$240 million (RM800m) in the public service sector related to marine transportation and had four semi-containers and 28-passenger ferry launches operating in Indonesia.

The joint venture is co-ordinated by Lt Col (RTD) Haji Rosli Bin Mohd Ariff, Chairman of Brunei-based AGRA Sdn Bhd.

Source: Daily Express

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