We wanted to have a more casual and relaxing holiday cruise with snorkelling and beach activities but with a focus on Fijian culture and way of life.
This cruise ticked all those boxes for us and then some, so much so that we booked the Colonial Flavours cruise for next year.
Embarkation from Denarau Marina starts at 12md on a Tuesday and you are sent to the Yacht Club to wait for boarding and are given a free drink voucher.
Then we were all called and checked in as we ascended the gangway where we were given a shell lei and a brief safety overview and a lovely outdoor buffet lunch. The Captain was Ken Ballantine and the Hospitality Manager was Carole Crumlin, who did an excellent job.
Cabins were available shortly after and we sailed away at 2 pm. Key collection and checkin was done at the reception desk.
We visited the Yasawa Islands on the first part of our cruise (4 days) and we had two snorkelling and/or beach activities each day and on another day we visited a school, where the children sang for us then picked their adult and showed us around their school grounds and classrooms. We had taken pads, pencils, stickers and these were given to the teacher for distribution. School books for the teachers themselves are also highly needed. Sweets and biscuits are frowned upon. You also need to dress appropriately with knees and arms covered. This was a great visit.
We also visited a village and enjoyed a local lovo (underground cooking) with beautiful salads and fruits and wine from the ship even though alcohol is not allowed in villages where Cava is the main drink. We enjoyed a traditional cava welcome ceremony and wonderful dancing and singing also.
We also had some extra activities such as exploring Sawa-I-Lau cave, the famous limestone cave with its beautiful underground lagoon, where we swam in crystal clear water open to the sky above.
On this portion of the cruise we visited Tivua, Naviti, Yaqeta and Drawaqa Islands.
Meals on board were mainly buffets set up in the Dining room or upstairs in the lounge for casual buffet lunches. We also had some three course dinners served in the Dinng room some nights including the Captains Welcome dinner the first night. We thought the food very very good and never had any complaints with variety, taste or quantity. At set meals you are seated in a group with others and there was a variety of family and work groups on this leg.
Service from all staff was superb with typical Fijian friendliness and happiness, so lovely to see and we thought they were all magnificent.
Alcohol is very pricey with the cheapest being a sparkling wine at $55 FJD about $38 AU while red and white was $FJD85 and up! They have a special cocktail everyday at 19FJD which are normally 25-28FJD. Drinks and canapés are served from 6.30pm every night which is a lovely way to meet others around the pool deck or in the lounge before dinner was served at 7.30 pm. After dinner entertainment was lovely Fijian singing and/or dancing from the crew members, crab racing, an abba dance party, a Fijian fashion show through the ages, and we had a resident DJ Manasa who sang songs and played keyboard or guitar nightly.
Reef and Culture talks were given by the resident Fijian marine biologist and were very interesting and they had a scuba diving team for those that wanted to dive. Snorkelling activities were done from their glass bottom boat or tenders where you jumped over the side or descended by ladder, with ascending the ladder after snorkelling being a very interesting activity in some of the swells. Luckily there was always help on hand to take the fins or cameras to allow you hands free access to the boat. The glass bottom boat was also use for reef coral viewing activities when the snorkelling group returned for those that wanted more gentle activity. Fins, masks and snorkels were available for use on board though we took our own masks and snorkels and just borrowed fins. Life vests and noodles were always available for those swimming or snorkelling and kayaks and sail boards were taken to the beaches for activities there.
Cabins are generally small with minimal hanging space and small bathrooms but you spend so little time there it wasn’t a problem as beds were comfy, aircon good and hot water plentiful for showers. Dress is very casual and no ties or jackets were seen, rather Bula shirts, sulus, shorts, casual dresses were the norm. Bathers and coverups were seen at breakfast and lunch but not at dinner.
There were Spa treatments offered on board including pedicures, massages, facials, hair braiding and were cheaper than on the big mainline ships.
On the Saturday, you return to Denarau Marina and because we were returning passengers we were able to take a free shore excursion while they reorganised the ship for the next load of passengers for the three day cruise to the Manamucas. We chose to visit the Gardens of the Sleeping Giant, Raymond Burrs beautiful orchid gardens, which was a fabulous side trip. Another offered was a trip to Nadi for shopping.
We reboarded after our excursion at 12md and headed to a beautiful sand day for a swim or snorkelling, a truly magical experience on this tiny sand island in the middle of the ocean, just amazing.
Next day was our visit to Monuriki where Tom Hanks Castaway was filmed. Another beautiful island which you can walk around and where there are still a few remnants from filming.
That night being Sunday we visited a village for their church service. Their beautiful singing from children to the elderly was a real highlight for us, and the fire and brimstone minister a real eye opener!
On Monday we visited the Sacred Islands, the place where the first Fijians landed. We swam in beautiful blue warm waters and kayaks or paddle boards were available. After our o board bidpffet lunch we visited Waya Island in The Southern Yasawas where you could swim, snorkel, climb to the peak of Waya or visit the village for a tour. Then our final night to dress up in Fijian wear for Pacific Island night.
We sailed into Lautoka overnight (most sailing is done from early morning 6 am so you have a nice sleep without any turbulence from waves) so the ship could fill up with water so we were bussed back to Denarau and taken to our resorts by the bus.
Wonderful relaxing happy cruise with wonderful staff, entertainment and food, fabulous snorkelling opportunities and beautiful island and beach visits. You need to be fit to access the boats for snorkelling and the ship is certainly showing it’s age, but nothing about it made us regret this choice for our Fiji holiday. Highly recommended.
Two normal cabins joined by an opening in the wall. We really didn’t need the extra space as we rarely used the lounge to sit or relax, as did this round the pool. Loved having two bathrooms but haven’t booked this category next year as didn’t think it was worth the extra expense for the amount of time we spent there.