Cyclone Winston's effects are still making themselves felt in the beautiful island nation of Fiji, but life is slowly getting back to normal as residents pick up the pieces and rebuild. With disaster relief and donations from many organisations and countries, there has been great progress since the events of a month ago.
Donors to the cause have been very generous, helping to get the country back on its feet. However, a state of disaster does not last forever, and a huge part of life returning to a sustainable norm in Fiji is the resumption of the tourist trade so essential to the nation's economy.
Cruise ships return to Fiji
It has now been a month since the cyclone hit, and although some cruise itineraries were changed in the days immediately following, ships have been back on track and calling in to Fiji for several weeks.
The Seabourn Odyssey luxury cruise ship was the first to return, visiting Lautoka and then Suva at the very end of February. Soon after, the Dawn Princess visited an array of Fijian ports, and then the cruise business was more or less back to normal. If you are booked on a cruise to Fiji in the near future, you can expect to find the country in decent working order - although of course there are parts, mostly away from the primary tourist areas, where recovery is still a big focus, and it's important to be sensitive to that.
Relief from all over the Pacific
Fiji has experienced an outpouring of support, physical and monetary, from many different organisations and nations in the region. After the establishment by the Fijian government of official disaster relief funds following the storm, businesses within the country gave money, supplies and labour to contribute what they could. Some like the Suva Bookshop provided goods - school stationery in their case - and some provided money, these including generous cheques from local businesses Deluxe Footwear, Pizza King, Bank of Baroda, Tebara Meats, Communications Fiji, Vishnu Holdings and many others, in a wonderful display of community spirit.
Of course, much of the financial and physical aid has come from outside of Fiji. Vanuatu, perhaps in a show of solidarity after having experienced its own devastating cyclone, made a generous contribution to the relief fund, and they were far from the only country to help out.
Sizeable aid packages have come from China, New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and others, along with invaluable monetary and physical support from established aid organisations. UNICEF was on the scene soon after the cyclone to assist in opening schools, and the Methodist Church collected and shipped many practical items to help with the immediate needs of affected communities.
Cruise lines have also pitched in to help out with the rebuilding efforts in Fiji. Carnival Australia, the company which owns P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, donated AU$125,000 through Save the Children, comprising not only corporate contributions but those made by passengers.
Have you cruised to or travelled to Fiji since the cyclone? We'd love to hear about your experience in the comments!