Travel writer Fiona Harper shares her experience cruising Fiji on Captain Cook’s Colonial Fiji Discovery Cruise…
A time capsule from Fiji’s colonial days, Levuka is a popular stopover on Captain Cook’s 7-night Colonial Fiji Discovery Cruise. In its day Levuka was a wild town with a reputation for drunkenness and debauchery. Lawlessness abounded in the port ‘town’ as ship captains followed the trail of empty gin bottles through the passage into the anchorage. An important trading post and port, at one point more than 50 saloons and bars kept this mob hydrated, though the Royal Hotel today is the only one remaining. It’s the oldest continuously operating hotel in the South Pacific.
More history unfolds at nearby Makogai Island where a leper hospital operated from the early 1900’s until the 1960’s. Patients were relocated from across the South Pacific to be housed in the leprosarium established on Makogai Island.
Later, back onboard the ship most of the 50-strong village arrives to perform a cultural demonstration, known as meke, with much singing, dancing and laughter. Everyone gets involved from youngsters who do much of the dancing through to elders who sit cross legged on woven pandanus mats, singing, clapping and playing guitars.
Onboard MV Reef Endeavour the atmosphere is convivial with a relaxed, friendly crew. Between further daily excursions to the town of Savusavu, Taveuni Island waterfalls and Sunday church services, we snorkel coral reefs, swim in tepid tropical waters or float in the ships pool, cocktail in hand. Late in the afternoon we gather on the aft deck for sundowners as tropical islands slip past. Crew entertain each night with cultural performances, often alongside the kava bowl, which we’re invited to share.
After seven days cruising Fiji we’ve made wonderful new friends amongst passengers and crew. But we’ve also gained an insight into Fiji’s intriguing culture and history.
Find out when the next Colonial Discovery Cruise departs here.