Written By: Danielle Krista, Publicity Manager, Blue Lagoon Cruises
It’s a pinch-yourself moment when you’re lying on a sparkling white sandy beach, with an endless horizon of azure blue water, sipping on a cocktail served in a coconut shell… When all of a sudden your dreamy thoughts are rudely interrupted by the sound of a deep rumbling drum-beat. But then you realise that’s simply the signal that lunch has been prepared by your private chef and is now laid out on a picnic table at Blue Lagoon Cruises’ exclusive island beach Nanuya Lailai!
This is but one example of the daily reality for the passengers on board the ‘Fiji Princess’ – a boutique, small cruising ship which travels through the spectacularly unpoilt Yasawa Islands, North West of the Fijian mainland. The maximum 68 guests are today being treated to a sumptuous buffet style selection of freshly cooked and locally caught fish, barbecued meats and freshly prepared salads of local produce – and this is nothing compared to the ‘lovo’ which the crew started preparing hours ago for dinner this evening. Similar to a New Zealand ‘hangi’, the crew made a performance out of digging an underground cooking oven and delicately wrapping the meats in palm fronds to be roasted throughout the day before being served on the beach under the stars for dinner tonight.
With such limited numbers and a small, unimposing vessel, this cruise is nothing like the big river cruises or ocean going cruises. At 55 metres in length, the boutique Fiji Princess is petite enough to explore remote islands and bays inaccessible to larger vessels. In fact, throughout the seven night cruise we only cruise for a maximum of four hours each day, giving so much time to explore the surrounding islands, snorkel, or simply curl up on the beach with a good book borrowed from the ship’s library.
The activities are many and varied, and you can choose to do as little or as much as you like – swim in the famous Blue Lagoon caves, snorkel with amazing corals, fish and even sharks and manta rays, visit local island villages and schools, and so much more. With over 60 years of cruising the Fiji islands, the Blue Lagoon Cruises crew know all of the best places to go in the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands – and the best things to do.
They can arrange a private beach picnic for two or dinner under the stars, or weddings (proposals too), or screen movies out on deck, including that famous Blue Lagoon starring the young Brooke Shields. Recently, additions to the on-board toys of kayaks, snorkelling and handline fishing gear, are stand-up paddleboards and a glass-bottomed boat favoured by passengers who want to stay dry but still admire the coral and sea creatures (turtles are a regular sight).
But it’s not any one of these things necessarily that make this cruise memorable – it’s the people. They say Fijians are the happiest in the world – and it’s hard to disagree. You’ll encounter big BULA smiles everywhere you turn, and the crew strive to create lifelong memories of a totally spoiled holiday in their unspoilt paradise.
The Fiji Princess is enjoying renewed interest for small-ship ‘coastal cruising’ among cruise enthusiasts following her extensive $1.2 million makeover she is receiving many compliments for the south seas, nautically themed décor that is a feature of passenger cabins and the above-deck refurbishment.
Blue Lagoon Cruises primarily offers adult-only cruises (14 years of age and above). There are departures, however, where family groups with younger children are also welcomed on board. These cruises are scheduled for the Australian and New Zealand school holidays.
Blue Lagoon Cruises offer 3, 4 or 7 night cruises on the Fiji Princess departing Port Denarau. www.bluelagooncruises.com
How to get there and where to stay
- Fly to Nadi International Airport. Pre/post cruise accommodation can be booked in Nadi, or on Denarau Island (approx. 20 minutes from Nadi).
- Port Denarau is on Denarau Island. Transfers to/from most accommodation can be arranged with Blue Lagoon Cruises.
- 3, 4 or 7 night cruises are available, departing weekly (Fridays for 3/7 night guests; Mondays for 4 night guests).
- 4 night guests cruise on a transfer vessel to meet the ‘Fiji Princess’ at its anchorage; 3 night guests cruise back to Port Denarau on that same transfer vessel.
Blue Lagoon Cruises are renowned for their friendly Fijian staff and the intimate, personal experience. Itineraries include Fijian village and school visits, swimming in the famous Blue Lagoon caves, modern cuisines (including a traditional Fijian ‘lovo’), cruising to untouched bays and coves, swimming with sharks and/or manta rays (seasonal), and plenty of time on postcard-perfect white sandy beaches (including Blue Lagoon’s private island beach Nanuya Lailai).
Leaving a legacy
Vinaka Fiji is a charitable trust, started by Awesome Adventures (a sister company to Blue Lagoon) and now supported by both businesses. Through fundraising and volunteering programs, Vinaka Fiji is currently improving the lives of 18 of the 27 remote island communities and in turn saying thank you (Vinaka) for welcoming us into their islands.
The Trust works directly with the Yasawa Island communities so that villagers are active in determining their own needs, participate in planning and implementation and share responsibility for the completion of projects.
The work of the Trust is also strongly supported and endorsed by the Fijian Government.
The Vinaka Fiji Volunteer programme brings people from all over the world to assist on the three programmes run – Children,Schools and Education; Sustainable Communities; and Marine Conservation. There are ten places for volunteers on each of the three specialist programs each week.
For more information about Vinaka Fiji, including the volunteering programs, visit vinakafiji.org.fj
As a Blue Lagoon Cruises guest you will learn more about the program whilst on board and have the opportunity to visit some of the Volunteer projects.