Friday 15 November 2013

First Ever Lau Cruise A Resounding Success

Waking up to exotic islands each morning, swimming with amazing corals and fish life, to mingling with descendants of a Tongan Prince and being among the first group of tourists to step ashore on what was once a sacred Island, Captain Cook Cruises, Fiji has successfully completed its first ever 11 night Lau cruise.

The cruise onboard Fiji’s largest cruise ship, the MV Reef Endeavour was given a musical ticker tape send off from Port Denarau on 22 October, 2013 by Fiji’s Minister responsible for sea transportation, Navy Captain Timoci Lesi Natuva and the popular Fiji Police Brass Band.

In 11 days, passengers of the Reef Endeavour visited Fiji’s Garden Island of Taveuni, the remote, once upon a time lighthouse Island Wailagilala and the Lauan islands of Vanuabalavu, Oneata, Fulaga, Vuaqava, Kabara, Totoya and Namuana on the island of Kadavu.

Reef Endeavour at Fulaga Lau islands
Cruise highlights included Vanuabalavu, where passengers swam in and around three limestone caves inside the Bay of Islands, and met and were entertained by descendants of Maa’fu, the Tongan Prince whom the High Chief of Lau later honoured with the Tui Lau (King of Lau) title. Passengers also joined the Island of Oneata for a polotu (Choral Church Service) and swam, snorkelled and dived in the beautiful waters of Fulaga.

Kabara saw the chief and his people honour Captain Cook Cruises for being the first cruising company to visit the island by removing the tabu surrounding the visit of outsiders to their sacred uninhabited island of Vuaqava. Vuaqava has a large lake in the centre of the island and the 2 ½ kilometre hike from the beach to the lake offered passengers an insight into an abandoned Fijian village and burial sites. Reef Endeavour passengers later enjoyed an island feast in their village rara (green) and were performed ceremonies and dances that are usually reserved for very important guests. Many young maidens of Kabara still proudly wear their traditional hair locks, a mark of virgin purity.

The stop on Udu Village on Totoya allowed guests to visit and mingle with the 16 students of Udu Village School and their three teachers. The final stop was to witness the rare but sacred calling of the turtle ceremony by the people of Namuana Village in Vunisea, Kadavu.

“Since it was our very first cruise to the remote Lau Islands, it became an expedition in a lot of ways and our guests loved it,” says Jackie Charlton, Managing Director of Captain Cook Cruises, Fiji. “They knew that hardly any tourist has been to the parts of Fiji they were visiting and we all felt honoured and blessed in that way.

“To see the people of Lau living as they really do was just an amazing experience for the 126 passengers and 56 crew of the Reef Endeavour.”

Captain Cook Cruises Fiji Director Commander Semi Koroilavesau, did a reconnaissance of the Lau Group to finalise the itinerary and was overwhelmed with the outcome.

“The chiefs and people of Lau are natural hosts of visitors and the ceremonies, the meke (dances) and handicraft they have on offer are as genuine and authentic as you can get. As a director of Captain Cook Cruises, I am glad that we have established a very good working relationship with them and can offer passengers an amazing cultural and exploratory experience”.

The next 11 night Discovery Lau cruise departs Tuesday 22 April 2014 at 1.00pm from Port Denarau and is priced from $3430 per adult twin share, children 5 -17 years sharing with adults are priced from $730 per child and children under 4 years are priced at $1200 which includes a nanny service.

Prices include accommodation, all meals, daily stopovers and water activities, guided village, school and island tours, glass bottom boat excursions, Marine Biologist and cultural talks, child minding during meal times (5 -10 years), on board entertainment and use of the ship's facilities including swimming pool, spas, pool bar, sun deck, sauna, cocktail bar, day spa and library.

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