Here's what Kirsty had to say about her time with Captain Cook!
The cruise: 4 Cultures
We sailed on a "4 Cultures" itinerary which only departs a few times each year (Like this 4 Cultures cruise which departs in September 2016). Leaving from Port Denarau near Nadi, it visits some remote spots around Vanua Levu to allow passengers to experience four of the many varied cultures of Fiji.
The cruise lasted 7 nights, and ports included Yadua Island, Kia Island, Labasa, Rabi Island and Kioa Island. Cultural highlights included shows of traditional dances and songs by locals in three of the small villages they visited. We also were treated to a Lovo, which is a traditional feast cooked in the ground - and it was fantastic! At Labasa, a bustling Fijian town, we had the option of attending a traditional church service on the Sunday.
The ship: Reef Endeavour
The ship was refurbished in 2013, so although it is slightly older in style it is up to date and has a unique charm and character. We found the rooms to be plenty spacious enough, with drawers as well as a wardrobe to store our clothes. I especially appreciated the clothes lines on the deck outside the cabin, where we could hang wet things to dry!
The main pool deck, Deck C, was a great spot to hang out when not in the cabin, with plenty of loungers and chairs. More of these were available on A and B deck, offering plenty of space to relax - and the Sun Deck at the very top of the ship has more seating and tables both in the sun and in the shade. The spa pool is there too - a fantastic place to be in the evenings!
The activities: Sun sand and sea
Although the main focus of this particular cruise itinerary was the cultural experiences, Fiji is not Fiji without the beach and water activities.
At the beginning of the cruise we were allocated snorkelling gear which then became ours to use until we left - I thought that was a nice touch! A snorkelling excursion was offered each day, and the marine biologist and diving staff onboard always knew the best spots for maximum underwater scenery and wildlife - the biologist also gave daily talks about the reef which were interesting, especially when combined with seeing it up close. Those not keen on snorkelling could go on the glass-bottomed boat which went out a few of the days.
Beach visits were a staple - and on a smaller-scale cruise like this, the sand is never too far away which is bliss. There we could swim, kayak, paddleboard and just relax. What's more, the "bar" was always open - this meant that the staff would take ashore eskies full of beers and sodas which you could charge back to your cabin.
In the evenings, there was a range of fun and interactive entertainment which really encouraged getting to know passengers and crew. We enjoyed singing by the talented staff, a Fiji "fashion" parade, kava tastings, storytelling, crab racing, movies by the pool (with popcorn of course) and live music late into the evening.
The food and service: Onboard pleasures
The dining onboard the Reef Endeavour was truly excellent. I loved the flavours and it was plentiful. The chefs would shop at local markets when the ship stopped, so it was all fresh and delicious! Local fishermen would also bring small boats out to the ship to sell fish to the galley.
Breakfasts were buffets in the Captain's Lounge, offering cereals, fresh fruit and hot options. Lunch was also a buffet with an array of choices, served either al fresco by the pool or in the Captain's Lounge. In the afternoon, cakes were offered so we were never at risk of going hungry.
Before dinner, canapes were served from 6:30-7:30pm, another nice touch! The evening meal was generally a la carte - except for two buffet evenings - and always really good.
As for the service, I would say that it was the staff and crew which made the cruise. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, they learnt the names of all the passengers and would joke around with them so we felt at home. On the first night, they officially welcome you to the family, and by the end of the cruise, you really feel a part of it.
I loved this cruise line and the style of cruising, and I would definitely do it again! In fact, I already have an 11-night Captain Cook Fiji cruise planned for 2018.
This cruise would be perfect for someone wanting a quiet holiday, experiencing the best of Fiji and taking full advantage of "Island Time". Although the bells and whistles like mini golf and specialty restaurants are not featured on the Reef Endeavour, the top-notch and friendly service, relaxed atmosphere and the sheer beauty of the Fijian islands more than makes up for that.
If you'd like to follow in Kirsty's sandy footsteps and try a fantastic Fiji islands cruise, take a look at our Captain Cook Cruises Fiji sale page - and check out the 4 Cultures cruise she enjoyed so much. Like our other cheap cruises, you'll find a range of itineraries at great prices.