SUNBIZ

Captain Cook Cruises Expands

Captain Cook Cruises’ decision to expand its operations to Suva was propelled by border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said company director Alifereti Koroilavesau. Captain Cook Cruises has been
31 Oct 2020 13:59
Captain Cook Cruises Expands
Captain Cook Cruises catamaran Fiji One in Suva Harbour.

Captain Cook Cruises’ decision to expand its operations to Suva was propelled by border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said company director Alifereti Koroilavesau.

Captain Cook Cruises has been a Nadi-based operation until last week when it launched its Suva specials.

Recent years served as a preparation period for the move, Mr Koroilavesau said.

“The demand was always there.”

However, operational structure and costs, compelled the restructure of the business to reposition a lot of its staff and crew.

“This would involve investment into infrastructure for a workshop and storage spaces,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“Border closures due to COVID-19 compelled us to channel and refocus some of our operational commitments.”

Repositioning the company’s catamaran, Fiji One, to Suva was part of the plan to cushion the impacts faced by the company, following the impact of border closures.

“After the lifting of some restrictions, we were able to cater to the local market only on the weekends with the Tourism Fiji initiative Love Our Locals campaign.

“We conducted a survey and realised that more than 80 per cent of our guests were from Suva.”

After negotiations

After close to three months to obtain the necessary approvals from various stakeholders, Captain Cook Cruises launched its Suva operations with a very successful fashion week event.

”Grand Pacific Hotel and the IHG group have been very helpful in allowing us to check our passengers in at their hotel, “ Mr Koroilavesau said.

The company received the blessings of Samisoni Koroi, who represented the Tui Suva, and the support of a host of corporate organisations.

“Due to the effects of COVID-19, it makes sense to operate out of Suva,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“The interest and market is here in Suva at the moment.

“In terms of consumer appetite, Suva has a diverse range of consumer needs, whereas in Nadi it was primarily tourism.”

Mr Koroilavesau said:”We do anticipate the return of international tourists.

“However, we have three other vessels based out of Denarau Marina.

“The demand from the Suva market will most likely determine if this will be a long term plan.

The success of the semi-expansionary operations will be based on the cost benefit analysis and feasibility of our operations, he said.

“Only time will tell.”

Expansion plans post COVID-19

Captain Cook Cruises continues to receive enquiries and interest for its flagship, the Reef Endeavour.

As such, the vessel will be operating over Christmas, at discounted rates of 65 per cent for a three and four night cruises to the Mamanucas, and Yasawas including the mystical Sawa-i-law Caves.

“We have also had enquiries for full ship charters from organisations,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“We have revamped our products by adding additional features and value to what we already have in place.

“For example, the Nukulau Day Cruise includes a stop at the sandbar (Nukubuco) then Nukulau.

“Whilst at Nukulau, guests have the opportunity to also snorkel off Makuluva.

“We are also in the process to see if guests are able to visit the oyster farm off Vutia, Rewa.”

Staffing

Captain Cook Cruises has deployed approximately 20 staff for its Suva operations.

The 20-odd staff were earlier sent home on leave without pay following border closures.

“They are all from Suva and had to move back when business came to a stop,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“Our being in Suva will also stimulate the already booming Suva economy with direct and indirect flow ons from our activities and cruises.

Suva operations

In the meantime, the Suva operation has been booked out since its launch last week.

“We hosted the launch for Fiji Fashion week which helped put the word out as well.

“It’s something different for Suva.

“We are not hitting record numbers yet, as it’s early days.

“But we are operating as per the schedules on weekends.

“We have had quite a few bookings for festive season groups already and premium dates are filling quickly.

“We anticipate this to increase over the next few weeks as we come closer to the festive season.

“But for the weekends, it’s sufficient to cover operating costs.

“Also, our employees are able to have a full week’s wage.”

Enquiries about Captain Cook Cruises Fiji One specials can be made by emailing suva@captaincook.com.fj

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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