Selamat datang means welcome in Bahasa, Indonesia. Recently Zaandam called in three Indonesian ports — Komodo Island; Tanah Ampo, Bali, and Semarang, Java. As nearly half of our crewmembers are from Indonesia it was a very busy and special day as we welcomed the friends and families of our hardworking crewmembers. In fact this entire thing began nearly two months ago as my clerk Fikar and I began the process of organizing the visitor list. Normally we aren’t involved in doing this; however we knew it would be quite busy and a special system was put in place to handle the volume of requests we would get. Fikar and I wanted to be a part of this and graciously organized the administration.
Crewmembers were excited to submit the names of their visitors to us with the knowledge that they would be seeing them soon and sharing a little bit of their experience with those to whom the whole concept of ship life is an abstract. As time passed and the port call grew closer the excitement was evident and crewmembers invariably began talking of their families and preparing to offload the numerous gifts and goodies they have collected over the course of their contract.
Our first Indonesian port was Komodo Island. None of our crewmembers come from there — in fact not many people really come from there. Komodo is famous for its deadly Komodo Dragons. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the highlights of the itinerary. The dragons freely roam the island and carefully escorted tour groups trek the island to see the dragons in their natural environment. Almost 900 guests and 60 crew went on tours that day and it was exciting for all. The fun was still to come because the next day we called on Bali.
Bali is a worldwide tourist destination and home to many of our crewmembers. The Balinese culture is quite different from that of Java where we were to go next. We had over 450 visitors to welcome that day and so we set out for the pier to welcome them aboard. With the help of volunteers we processed the visitors and the crewmembers took them aboard to show them their ‘home away from home.’ The excited greetings and hugs and kisses were too much for many volunteers who were overcome with emotion. It was truly special to be a part of this experience and it was only just beginning. Luckily, we were staying at anchor in Bali until late at night, so I had an opportunity to explore the island a little. With my clerk Fikar and some of his friends who live in Bali I set out to have a little fun… and eat some local food. Our food was prepared in an outdoor market adjacent to the bay. We had a beautiful view of the bay and Zaandam swinging at anchor in the distance a few miles away. The sun slowly set as we enjoyed our treats.
After a much needed day at sea to rest it was time for the main event- Semarang, Java. Java is the ‘main’ island of Indonesia. It is home to the capital, Jakarta, and the majority of our Indonesian crew come from somewhere on Java. We had over 900 guests joining us in Semarang! Though the day was much busier than Bali, it was equally as rewarding. The small army of volunteers helped make the day run smoothly and everyone was excited to meet more of our crewmembers’ families. After touring Zaandam crewmembers and their visitors were treated to a catered Indonesian lunch on the pier. The smiles were indication enough that this program was a success. Out of all the things I have done and all the places I have been I will count this experience among the most special and I am sure to always remember it.
Anthony Garofalo is Zaandam’s human resources manager. Contact him at email@example.com.