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December 17 - 18, 2023

My slight touch of seasickness had subsided by the time I awoke. I was excited this morning because we would be arriving at one of my dream destinations - Fiji. We were not scheduled to arrive there until late morning; therefore, Traci and I took our time getting ready. We barely made it to breakfast at the Windows dining room before breakfast ended at 9:30 AM.

Lautoka, Fiji

Our ship docked in Lautoka, Fiji at an industrial pier containing cranes and cargo containers. Fiji is comprised of 333 islands. We were on the island of Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island. We would visit Dravuni Island the next day.

What stood out to me during our time in Fiji was the friendly people. Even before I exited the ship, I saw locals pass by in small boats as I stood on the balcony of our cabin. They would wave and shout "Bula!" which means "Hello" in the Fijian language. We heard and used the greeting numerous times during our Fiji visit.

Traci and I were booked on the Nadi (pronounced Non dee) Sightseeing shore excursion. This was a 4-hour round-trip tour that traveled between Lautoka and the city of Nadi via motorcoach. It was an opportunity to learn about Fijian culture, taste fruit, do souvenir shopping, and admire scenery.

Our tour guide was an interesting fellow. He is the grandson of a village chief. He is a former rugby player who traveled the world playing his sport. Rugby is huge in Fiji. We passed by a few ruby fields during our tour. Our guide also worked on the movie set of Castaway starring Tom Hanks which was filmed in Fiji. By the way, I also found out that the 1980 film, The Blue Lagoon was filmed in Fiji; however, our tour guide did not work on that set.

Lautoka is known as Sugar City because it used to be the largest producer of sugar in the southern hemishpere in the early 1900's. This is no longer the case. The city has expanded into other industries such as timber, garment manufaturing fishing, and tourism. Although, there is no longer a functioning railroad, the tracks that were used for the sugar industry can still be seen. Railroad tracks are something I've rarely seen on tropical islands.

We were driven past villages. Like Samoa, the people live in villages that are run by a chief. We made a stop along the road to have a look at the mountain named Sleeping Giant. It was named so because if you use your imagination, the mountain looks like a man who is sleeping. On this day, Sleeping Giant looked like he had fallen asleep in a shower. Although it was not raining where we were, we could clearly see the rain near the mountain.

One thing that was noticeable during our time on the island was the large population of people of Indian decent. Indians came to Fiji in the late 1800's and early 1900's as indentured servants and workers in the sugar industry. We made a photo stop at the elaborate Hindu temple. We were not allowed inside.

Fijian village


old railroad


Sleeping Giant


Hindu temple


We eventually made it to the city of Nadi. With its shops, restaurants, and other businesses, it looked like a nice place to explore. Unfortunately, we were there on a Sunday which meant just about everything was closed. The one place that was open was a large 2-story souvenir shop called Jack's of Fiji. We were given 30 minutes to have a look around. It was good that this stop was an indoor activity because the rain had arrived and it was pouring. Jack's had the regular items you would find in souvenir shops - clothing, magnets, postcards, etc... There was a musician performing inside the store and some drummers dressed in tradition Fijian attire outside the entrance. Traci continued her search for a red and white tropical dress. As usual, I bought a refrigerator magnet. The store accepted US dollars; however, I had left my envelope of small denominations in our ship cabin. Therefore, I was given change in Fijian dollars. Ugh! What was I going to do with Fijian money?

rainy day in Nadi


friendly musicians greet us at Jack's of Fiji


The rain had stopped and the sun was shining brightly by the time we arrived at our next stop - First Landing Resort Fiji. The resort gets its name from being located at the site where the first inhabitants of Fiji came ashore around 1,500 BC. We were welcomed by a man in tradition Fijian clothing blowing a conch shell. There were also some singers at the entrance. The resort was situated by the ocean and had a small marina. We were served a buffet of tropical fruit (pineapple, papya, mango, etc...) while a band played really nice pop music. There were sodas and other drinks available but I was most excited when I found out bottles of Fiji Water were available. One of my bucket list items was to drink a bottle of Fiji Water in Fiji. The water is actually produced on the island. Our guide told me that the company is now owned by Americans.

First Landing Resort Fiji

welcoming visitors


welcomed with singing


Mission accomplished - drinking Fiji Water in Fiji!


There was a coconut husking demonstration similar to the one we saw in Samoa. We were given straws to taste the coconut milk and coconut water. I was the first in line for this because I did not like the idea of drinking from the same coconut as strangers - even if we were using straws. The coconut milk was okay but I really liked the coconut water. This was surprising because in the past I never really cared for it.

From the resort, we made the 20-minute trip back to Lautoka. I used most of the Fijian dollars I was given at Jack's as a tip for our guide. This left me with a few coins in my pocket that would come in handy later.

Traci and I boarded the ship briefly to have lunch at The Local and then exited the ship to do some exploring. The ship was offering a shuttle for $20/person round-trip between the pier and downtown Lautoka. It was a hot, humid day but not unbearable. Therefore, Traci and I decided to walk instead of use the shuttle. Besides, we had to make sure Traci got her 10,000 steps for the day.

It was an easy 25-minute walk along a sidewalk to town. There was some information about the region's history displayed on a wall beside a section of the sidewalk. Since it was Sunday, there was not a lot going on in Lautoka. Most of the businesses were closed. It was still an interesting place to take a stroll. Palm trees lined the median of the road. The city was decorated for Christmas. There was a large Indian influence. In fact, Fijian Hindi is one of the major languages of Fiji along with English and Fijian. As we window-shopped, we saw many stores selling Indian garb. We also saw a lot of Indian cuisine on the posted menus of the restaurants.





We noticed that the Tappoo City Mall was open. I ended up buying a notebook. After years of jotting down notes of our travels for my trip reports, I noticed that I was down to the last page of the notebook I brought with me on this vacation. It turns out that the remaining Fijian coins I had in my wallet was the exact cost of the notebook ($1.34 FJD).

Traci and I spent about an hour using the free, fast Wi-FI at the mall to check emails and social media before making the walk back to the ship. Even though there was not much vehicle traffic, we still had to be careful when crossing the streets because like Samoa, Fijians drive on the left.

last minute shopping before getting back on the ship


Traci and I changed up our routine a little that evening on the ship. We went to show in the theater featuring vocalist Daniel Mallari first and then went to dinner. We had dinner at Silk, the complimentary Asian restaurant, and then made it to the Taste dining room for dessert 2 minutes before closing.

Dravuni Island, Fiji

The next morning, Traci and I went to breakfast at the Windows dining room at 7:45 AM. I was surprise to see that our ship was still moving. According to the itinerary, we were supposed to be visiting Dravuni Island, Fiji from 8 AM to 5 PM that day. While Traci and I were eating breakfast, the captain made an announcement indicating that due to wind and choppy seas, we might have to cancel our visit to Dravuni Island. The island does not have a port large enough to accommodate the ship and thus the captain would need to achor the ship so that tender boats could be used. The captain did not want to drop achor in these conditions because of the risk of drifting into the coral reefs. He told us that he would wait and see if the conditions improve.

After breakfast, Traci and I went back to the cabin to catch part of a movie on TV. Finally, as I was sitting on our balcony little after 10 AM, I noticed that the tender boats were being lowered into the water. Later, I heard the captain blast the ship horn a few times. I guess that meant we'd be going to Dravuni Island!

Traci and I left the ship in one of the tenders at 12:45 PM. Darvuni Island is a small (extinct) volcanic island that is roughly a mile long. There are about 125 people who live there in a village containing rustic houses and a school. Cruise ships stop there to give passengers a beach day. The island's beach and palm trees are postcard worthy. The villagers set up stalls to sell their goods and services. In addition to souvenirs such as clothing and artwork, massages and boat tours are sold. I saw some stalls where vendors were selling Wi-Fi which was unexpected on this remote island. The prices for the goods and services decreased the further you were from the pier. For example, massages were being sold for $25 near the pier but I noticed they were $20 just a little further away. Sadly, I also saw some people charging $5 to take a picture of a turtle. The problem was that this large turtle was kept in a cooler of water which was too small for the creature's size. The turtle did not even have enough room to turn around. I thought it was dead until Traci told me she saw it move. We had no desire to take a picture. I hope they released the turtle back to the ocean.

Traci and I spent our day on Dravuni Island by walking through the small village. There were a few chickens running a around. We came across a pig pen. One of the pigs seemed to have escaped from its pen. There were some children singing Christmas songs and gospel songs. At first, I thought they were doing this for us passengers but as time went on, I wasn't so sure. They seemed to be having a great time amongst themselves. I enjoyed listening to their singing and laughter.

Dravuni Island






I saw a group of men sitting under some trees and drinking kava. Kava is a drink made from a kava plant. It looks like muddy water. It supposedly numbs the tongue and helps you to relax. Fijians pass it around and everyone does one clap after a person drinks it.

Traci and I followed the path that leads to Dravuni Island's highest point. The last section of the path was steep enough to raise the heart rate a little but not too exhausting. I am just happy we had an overcast day. We were both sweating due to the humidity when we reached the summit. I imagine we would have been miserable if intense sunlight had been shining on us during the walk.

Walking to the Summit of Dravuni Island




Traci and I took some time to hang out at the beach and wade in the water. We ran into our DMV friends and hung with them for a while. They showed us some of the footage they took while snorkeling. Traci and I finally boarded the tender back to the ship at 3:45 PM so that we made the all-aboard time of 4 PM. I enjoyed the mix of culture and nature on Dravuni Island.

Back on the ship, Traci and I had pizza and ice cream at the buffet. We went to the 7 PM show at the Stardust Theater. It featured a juggler who made fun of me because Traci and I arrived a few minutes late. I ate at Silk by myself after the show while Traci attended the tribute to musicals show. We met up afterwards and then joined our DMV friends to attend the 9 PM comedy show in the theater. We finished off the night at the pool deck where the house band was performing the music of Motown. They did an awesome job.

It was a full day but I had a great time. Unfortunately, I noticed I was starting to get a scratchy throat. I seem to always pick up some type of ailment when I cruise. I was sure to attack it by gargling with Listerine after ever meal instead of just once per day like I normally do. We needed to set the time on our devices back an hour. This would be the last time we needed to do this on this cruise. Continue...

Magnet Purchased At This Destination: (click to enlarge)

Entire fridge magnet collection...


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