I've talked with several people who arrange CAITs, sponsor
visas, and are able to deal with the customs
bond issue. I'm no expert but this is what they told me:
I won't go too much into the bond issue. I think its been a hassle for some and non-issue for others. The advice we've been given is either 1) pay a significant amount of money
to a registered shipping
agent and they will deal with it before you get there or 2) Simply refuse to pay it. Depending on the port of entry I suppose either strategy would be fine. Seems each port is different AND port officials change regularly.
I've talked extensively with Indonautical and their fees
are (in Rp):
Agent Fee (in Kupang): 2,500,000
Letter for Social Visa*: 1,000,000 per person
Indonautical is a registered shipping
agent and were used by the Blue Water
Rally to get over the bond issue. These fees
reflect that. If you read Noonsite, it says that the BWR was "kicked out" due to their agent not being registered. Indonautical has told me it is because BWR did not use them to begin with. Only after they had problems did they use Indonautical. I didn't confirm this with BWR yet. I believe the Indonesia Rally also uses Indonautical but not 100% sure.
I've also talked with PT Kartasa Jaya. They arrange CAIT and sponsor letters only. They work with Asia
Pacific Superyachts as an intermediary for super yacht (which we are definitely not) check-ins. APS has been fantastic at answering my questions quickly. They are also a registered shipping agent. They have advised us to refuse to pay the bond and contact them if it becomes necessary. If it becomes a huge issue they have said they will provide the guarantee (rough estimate was US$500 for a 15 meter boat!). The fees (Rp) are:
Agent Fee: Varies but they said budget
5-6 million for check in AND out. They also said you don't have to use an agent. I believe their quote may be high as they are used to dealing with super yachts.
Sponsor Letter for Social Visa*: PT Kartasa 750,000/person or APS US$50/person
Our plan is to check in at Ambon without an agent and try to avoid the topic of the bond.
I've been over the visa issue (for US and Canadian) and have found that visa on arrival MAY be available, but may not (especially in Ambon). If you get a visa on arrival, it MAY be extended, but may not. Helpful, right?
We'll be there pretty late in the season, likely October-ish, so who knows if this will all change by the time we get there.
I hadn't contacted malukusailor, but I may to see what their advice is, as that is the area we really want to cruise
Best of luck!
*These fees don't include any consulate/embassy fees that may be charged for the social visa.