Kate Webster takes you aboard the Fiji Princess for an intimate escape in Fiji.
Fiji is known as a flop and drop destination. White sandy beaches, shading palm trees and clear blue waters enhanced more by a relaxed warm vibe. It really is paradise. But what if you could flop and drop knowing you will wake the next morning, or from your afternoon snooze, to look at a new magical destination?
That is the appeal of a cruise around the islands of Fiji. One day you can be anchored in a small cove sheltered by a rocky mysterious island, the next tendering ashore to a remote local village and school. The best part of it, you only have to unpack the once.
Cruising on a small ship has a certain intimacy about it. It’s like the bar in Cheers, where everyone knows your name. There are no long queues for the buffet, no waiting for hours to tender ashore. Like the crew on board who get to know your favourite cocktail or how you take your morning coffee, you too will get to know your fellow passengers, often creating friendships that last long after you return home.
Blue Lagoon Cruises specialises in the very intimacy of small ship cruising. Their cruise ship, Fiji Princess was made for boutique cruising and allows the exploration of countless tranquil inlets and bays, not accessible to larger cruise ships. She has been purpose-built for cruising and selected for the ocean going conditions of the Fiji waters, especially around the Yasawa Islands.
Small enough to tie off to a coconut tree, the size of Blue Lagoon Cruises, Fiji Princess is just one of the things that makes a cruise with them so special. Accommodating up to 68 passengers and measuring only 179 feet (55 metres) in length, she really does define intimacy. No matter which beach or island you visit, you won’t be overwhelmed by crowds.
The ship herself has an expanse of on-board facilities. Most evident when you step aboard is the open-air dining room with views out over the sea to the rear of the vessel. This is where meals come with a view that is ever changing. Evening cocktails can be enjoyed at the shaded sky deck bar and saloon bar, or just kick back and enjoy the sunset on the sun loungers on the large upper sky deck.
Not that you need it, when you can just jump overboard when anchored, but there is a splash pool at the rear of the ship. A library offers an array of books for the more flop, drop and read inclined. If adventure and activities are your game, there are stand up paddle boards, snorkelling equipment, fishing gear and much more on offer.
Cruising close quarters
Blue Lagoon Cruises takes you on an intimate journey around the islands of Fiji. Due to her petite nature, this Princess can venture where the larger ladies cannot. So what can you expect from an itinerary on-board the Fiji Princess? Although weather can always play a part in the journey, the ship will cruise to some of Fiji’s most magical spots in the Yasawa Islands.
Home of the famous Blue Lagoon and one of the South Pacific’s most stunning regions, the Yasawas are a chain of 20 ancient islands. Their volcanic rocky peaks give them a demanding presence, softened by the unspoilt golden sandy beaches and crystal-clear lagoons, home to world-class diving and snorkelling spots.
The islands are steeped in mystery and legend. The Yasawa people live as they have done for centuries, keeping the spirit of the islands alive with their traditional and simple lifestyle.
The southern Yasawas are ruggedly magnificent, while the northern islands frame the famous Blue Lagoon where, as the name suggests, the water is the most inviting shades of blue you will ever see. This area has plenty of activities on offer and is also a great spot for blissful relaxation.
In the midst of the Blue Lagoon is what can be considered the jewel of the Yasawas, Nanuya Lailai. Dotted with palm trees and surrounded by a coral lagoon, the island is truly one of Fiji’s gems.
The long stretch of golden sand is Blue Lagoon Cruises’ own private beach, and the 58 tropical acres in behind the beach is also exclusive to Blue Lagoon guests. This wonderful little island is a favourite stop among crew and passengers alike, made all the more special with Fiji Princess tying off to a coconut tree.
On the island, sun loungers are scattered under the palms. Also for your use are kayaks and spyboards. The surrounding waters are alive with colourful fish and coral, and here you can go on fish feeding and snorkelling trips. Nestled under the trees is the ‘pop up’ island bar serving refreshments and also, an open sand-floor bure where lunch is served.
Throughout the day at this island, dinner is cooked in a dug-out pit in the ground. This method of cooking is called a ‘Lovo’ and is simply delicious. To make the most of your time at Nanuya Lailai, the lovo is served under the stars at the beach bar. The setting is simply stunning, with the fire from the torches lighting up the beach.
Sawa i lau Caves
Referred to as ‘the very heart of the Yasawas’, the majestic Sawa i lau Caves are one of the ‘must-do’ activities for travellers visiting Fiji’s spectacular Blue Lagoon. The ancient limestone formations, carved by constant wave action, are hidden within an attractive little island in the northern Yasawas.
The history of the caves is legendary; the story goes that a young Chief once safely settled with his betrothed in the cave after her family threatened to marry her off to a rival Chief. Every day he would swim into this hidden grotto with food for the girl until eventually they both escaped to the safety of another island to be together forever. The sacred Sawa i lau Caves are also known as the resting place of the ten-headed ancient Fijian god, Ulutini.
Fiji Princess cruisers can venture into the caves, guided by friendly Fijians to explore the secrets within. The first of the caverns is simply magnificent. Light filters through a hole in the ceiling, allowing visitors to look around in awe. Those up for more excitement can choose to enter a secondary, more secretive, cavern via an underwater tunnel.
For more information on Blue Lagoon Cruises, visit www.bluelagooncruises.com