Inaugural Lau Cruise – 22nd October 2013

October 18, 2016
Island Cruises

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Captain Cook Cruises Fiji | Blog

22 OCTOBER saw Reef Endeavour, with 115 passengers aboard, sail from Denarau with much fanfare and the accompaniment of the Fiji Police Force Band, for 11 days cruising the Lau Group, the easternmost islands of Fiji. Although one or two of the islands have been visited very occasionally by a cruise ship in the past, this is the first ever cruise right through the group.

23 OCTOBER On the second day of the cruise we visited the village of Lavena on the east coast of Taveuni Island to the NE of Viti Levu. A picnic lunch on the beautiful beach and a one hour hike or boat ride to visit to some nearby waterfalls were the highlights of the day.

24 OCTOBER On Thursday (day three) we visited the first of the Lau Group islands on our itinerary, Wailagilala, the northernmost island of the group, a beautiful sandy but heavily wooded island, small enough to allow one to walk right around it. Wailagilala lies within a lagoon which has just one small opening wide enough for Reef Endeavour to enter.

25 OCTOBER Vanuabalavu, to the south, was our next “port” of call. Friday was spent at near Qilaqila (pronounced geela -n- geela) Island in the Bay of Islands – a magnificent location with many limestone islands of all shapes and sizes, all located within the fringing reef, with caves to swim through

The whole of the Lau Group has pristine and crystal clear water, and the colours in the water are truly beautiful.

26 OCTOBER On Saturday, at Lomaloma and Sawana Village on the south eastern part of Vanuabalavu we were treated to a wonderful display of dancing and song by children of all ages, highlighting the uniquely Tongan influenced culture of this part of Fiji, and the friendliness of everyone who lives here was thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.

27 OCTOBER On Sunday we visited the village of Waiqori (wine-gori) where we had the opportunity to attend the local church service and experience the magnificent choir, something Fiji is renowned for. Before church, Reef Endeavour was greatly honoured to be presented with a Tabua (a whale’s tooth), the most highly prized gift in Fijian Culture. Church was followed by a quiet afternoon of swimming and snorkeling from a nearby beach, and the divers enjoyed one of the best dives some of them had ever experienced in the narrow passage through the surrounding reef through which Reef Endeavour navigated to reach the village.

28 OCTOBER Fulaga (fulanga) Island on Monday was truly breathtaking – a large, horseshoe shaped island, surrounded by a fringing reef, and with hundreds of small limestone islands scattered throughout the lagoon. The entrance to the lagoon is too small for Reef Endeavour to safely navigate, so the ship stayed outside (adrift, because the water is far too deep to anchor) while our passengers were taken into the lagoon by tender to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the lagoon.

29 OCTOBER Tuesday we visited Vuaqava (vu-an-gava), a reasonably large, uninhabited limestone island, totally covered with tall trees of many varieties, the main feature of which is a large inland salt water lake. Passengers had the opportunity of hiking to the lake, guided by the local landowners from an adjacent island (so that nobody got lost) where they could see turtles, and the local eel (koi) and a mussel, both unique to this island lake.

30 OCTOBER The village of Naikeleyaga (nigh-kelae- yanga) on Kabara Island was our next stop. Here we were welcomed by the villagers from the whole island (there are a total of four villages on Kabara), with a Qaloqalavi (galon-gal-arvee) or whale tooth ceremony, followed by a sevusevu, or kava ceremony, and a meke (Fijian concert). Passengers also had the opportunity of purchasing handicrafts actually produced in the village, including the tanoa (kava bowl) , for which the island of Kabara is famous, and magimagi (mangee-mangee) produced from coconut fibre which is used for decoration, making rope, etc.

31 OCTOBER Next stop was Totoya Island where we visited a very small primary school in the village of Udu (undu) in the morning and enjoyed the beach and nearby reefs in the afternoon.

After a full night at sea, we arrived at Vunisea (vooni- say-a) on Kadavu (kandavu) Island. During the morning we experienced an ancient turtle calling ceremony which resulted, much to some skeptics surprise, in the appearance of a turtle below the headland on which the ceremony was conducted. During the afternoon many passengers enjoyed various tours ashore to see and experience more of the local scenery.

1 NOVEMBER Sadly, this was our last day. A memorable and thoroughly enjoyable experience for all on board, and not only for the passengers, but also the crew, many of whom had never before visited the Lau Group, but more so for those crew members from the Lau Group who were able to return home, some having been away for as long as 15 to 20 years.

See you on the next Lau Cruise!

Captain Chris

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