SUNBIZ

Sometimes Fiji Surprises You

After twenty-five years in Fiji, the majority of which was spent involved in the tourism industry, I thought that I had a pretty good fix on most of the tourism
11 Feb 2017 11:00
Sometimes Fiji Surprises You
Captain Cook Cruises Catamaran Fiji One.

After twenty-five years in Fiji, the majority of which was spent involved in the tourism industry, I thought that I had a pretty good fix on most of the tourism offerings.

I respect the tourism industry and believe that we are at world class levels with plant and experience product and sometimes we lead the world, especially with our shark feeding products and some of our top end resorts like Likuliku, Vomo and Tokoriki.

But sometimes there is something that comes along and surprises you.

This Christmas, my sister from Australia spent the season with us, and she and her husband took a sunset dinner cruise with Captain Cook.

They came back later that night raving about the unbelievable time they had, the fun, the great food and the peace and beauty of the sunset.

They were so blown away that we decided that we needed to try this too.

We booked for a Saturday night and turned up a bit early for the five-thirty departure, got our ticket,  took an outside table at Lulu’s and passed the time with a Fiji Bitter.

At boarding time a large group of people turned up and moved down the dock, boarded without any fuss and made straight for the foredeck, where there were a number of chairs placed in small groups. We followed.

The vessel is a very large and beautifully presented catamaran called “Fiji One”, with an amazing amount of open deck space and  two levels of enclosed vast cabins, one of which is the dining and entertainment area and the upper is the Captain’s Lounge, nicely set up for sitting around and sipping something cool.

Both the inside areas have very large windows all around, providing uninterrupted views.

The dining area has a smart bar and an even smarter barman, Freddi Aisake, who can mix you whatever your favourite drink is, or will happily introduce you to something new.

The bar also has a small but well thought out selection of wines from Australia, New Zealand and France, a selection of different beers and a range of spirits.

We moved from the dock to the front of the boat and chose two chairs set alone.

The crew came around with nibbles and some very tasty meatballs and we were offered champagne or orange juice.

The MC, Marika Donu made the mandatory safety speech, including instructions on how the correctly put on a life jacket and the sound advice that if you put it on upside down you would float with your feet in the air, looking into the eyes of fish.

As we left the wharf some people moved inside but we stayed in the cool air on the foredeck while the vessel left the harbour and made a stately passage out into Nadi Bay, where it turned west and headed into the sunset.

It is remarkably peaceful out in the bay on dusk, the slow motion of the vessel making no sound, the Denarau hotels spread along the port side with myriad sparkling lights, the sunset glow reflected on the water and the soft murmur of people talking together.

We were called to dinner and went below to the dining area.

Seating was at small individual tables and our pre-ordered wine was at our table ready for us.

Dinner was buffet style, with a remarkably wide range of salads, potato dishes, pastas, a series of dressings, steak, chicken, fish dishes and a special surprise of barbecued lobster tails, choices of bread and sauces.

Everything was freshly prepared by the on-board Chef Teila Soro and her assistants and even the steak was perfectly done, (which is difficult to do for a buffet) not the least over cooked.

For those who still had space, there was desert served at the table. It is possible to order a whole lobster with a choice of sauces when you book and it looked like at least half the passengers had taken this option.

We had the standard offering and were more than satisfied, especially as there were as many lobster tails as we wanted in the buffet anyway.

All the fish comes in from the Yasawas on the Captain Cook vessels returning each afternoon so there is no debate about how fresh they are. And the taste says everything.

After dinner there is entertainment under the aggressive control of Marika, helped by the boys and girls of the crew.

I’ve seen many mekes in my time here but the performance on the vessel has a real edge to it.

It is very personal, the people performing have been talking to you all night.

And it is very inclusive. It’s very hard to hide from Marika when he is looking for more people to dance. On the night we were there a lot of the passengers were Chinese and there were a lot of small children.

The tiny kids joined in and had a great time and it was delightful to see the tiny girls sitting with the Fijian women in the sitting meke.

At the end of the night there was a real feeling of disappointment amongst the passengers that it was over and we had to leave.

It is a wonderful product and one that I will now be recommending to anyone who asks what they should do in Fiji. It is the rare product that is a pure, genuine Fijian experience. but is also world class.

In writing this article I had also planned to cover the other Captain Cook products, but I am so convinced that this diner cruise is something special that I have decided that it deserves the extra space.

For locals looking for a special experience I recommend it, it will make any occasion totally memorable and will give you many great photos for your Facebook page.

 


John Ross is a Nadi-based marketing and advertising specialist with a long background in tourism. For feedback on this article, please email him: johnrossfiji@gmail.com

 

 

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