Tag Archives: Fiji Princess

Winter is coming….

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and readers in the USA, and a warm hello to everyone who does not celebrate the holiday.

And a special BULA! to our fellow Fiji Princess 7 day stayers… when are we doing something like that again?  We are definitely willing…

The juncos have returned, the summer geese and the cormorants are gone, the winter geese are here.  The leaves are off the trees (and thanks to the other day’s south west winds, they are not on our property either 🙂 ).  Our stupid rose bush insists on still blooming, so I can’t prune it yet, but everything else says that Autumn has a firm grip, and winter is on its way.  Fortunately, no snow yet for us here on the south coast, but we certainly aren’t having one of those wonderful 70 degree Thanksgiving day’s when you go for a walk in your shirtsleeves after eating too much.

The heat had to be turned on near the end of October.  There is this Yankee thing about waiting as long as you can before you turn on the heat.  Everyone starts to ask each other if they are still toughing it out, or if they turned it on yet.  We held out long enough, but there is a point where you just have to do it.

I’m sorry we have been away from the blog for such a long time.  I know that for some of you who don’t use Facebook, this is your way of keeping track of us.  There have been a few changes, and you can feel free to get in a chuckle at our expense if you like.

The move to Florida is no longer going to happen.  We have a saying (and so do many others): ” the universe will unfold as it should”.  The forces in the universe were apparently conspiring to prevent our move from Somerset to Yulee, and after 10 months, we just had to read the signs and make a decision.  The largest issue, of course, is the fact that we just could not sell the house.  No one was interested – no even to look.  There is a clear message there.  Then a few other things happened, and after 10 months of trying to make this work, it was time to move on with our lives.

In contrast, when we decided to purchase this house in Somerset, we put the Ashland house up for sale after we left for a vacation in Hawaii.  We had a signed P&S in less than 2 weeks, before we got back home – obviously, that change was meant to be.  Everything was just “too hard” and working against us for this move to Florida.

We are very happy with our decision to stay here, and to get back to living in the now instead of floating in limbo, waiting for the ‘later’.  And if you know of anyone who is interested in purchasing a very nice lot in Waterman’s Bluff at a great discount, send them the information please.  We now are trying to sell this land.

Once we made the decision to stay, we started shopping for a boat.  We had sold Autumn Dream to a really great guy, and so we started looking at sail boats.  Kevin kept looking at Pilot House sail boats, and we were trying to decide what was the best option for us.  We mentioned to the new owner of Autumn Dream (when we were helping put the cover on) that we were in the market for a boat, and he asked if we would be interested in buying her back, due to some changes in his life.

Wow.  After a few days of discussion, we decided to buy her back.  This is when you really can start to laugh if you choose.  Yes, the blog will stay as M/V Autumn Dream, because she is back in our lives, and we are staying here in Somerset.  All is right with the world, and the universe is unfolding as it should.

Future posts will include boat work (of course) and changes we are making around the house, now that we are staying put.

Hope this post finds you all happy, and well.

Fiji – Would I go Again NO, unless…….

Day one (sort of):    Bula!!!!

Recently the Admiral and I had a chance to visit the stunning island nation of Fiji.  After flying for 600 hours from Boston to Nadi Fiji and losing a day somewhere over the Pacific ocean we arrived at 6AM into the hot, humid, partly cloudy Fiji morning,  (Ok it was only 18 hours of flying plus another 4 hours of layovers at LAX) and were greeted with cold towels, cold water and two beautiful flower leis.   As part of our arrangement we have transportation provided from the Nadi airport to the Sofitel Denarau resort hotel for a two night pre cruise stay.  Although we arrived at the hotel at about 8AM they had our room ready and we had a quick check-in and were escorted to the room.  All the rooms are ocean view and ours was no exception, except that we were on the third floor and we had palm trees partially blocking our view.  However this was not a problem at all.   The room was clean and comfortable but not what I would consider a 5 star resort, maybe 3 and a half.  There needs to be some maintenance but it was pleasant and the bed was good.  Well after the 6000 hours of flying we were a bit airplane lagged.  So we decided to take a short nap and set the alarm clock to wake us in an hour and a half.  After the nap it was time for lunch.  So in the spirit of exploration we decided to walk the mile or so from the hotel to the Denarau Marina complex to get the blood flowing and have some Fiji lunch.  We ended up at LuLu’s a restaurant right at the water edge overlooking the marina and the docks where we would in a few days get on the ship Fiji Princess.  Lunch was good and we experienced Fijian beer (good) and a different kind of French fries, made from cassava tuber verses potatoes.  These were great!  We have previously experienced cassava bread in the Caribbean island of St Lucia but never fries!

Then we wondered around the marina for a bit then back to the hotel.  That evening we ate dinner at the hotel water’s edge restaurant.  Not soo good but OK considering the airplane lag.

Sofitel Lobby

Sofitel Lobby

Leis

Leis

Room at the Sofitel

Room at the Sofitel

The view from our room

The view from our room

Day 2: (I think this was day 2)

Breakfast at the hotel buffet was included in the price so we ate there.  This was a welcome surprise compared to dinner the previous night.  Food was very good and coffee was surprisingly good for a hotel.    The rest of the day we kicked around the resort and in the evening we went back to the Marina and Lulu’s for dinner.  We returned to Lulu’s because as part of the package we had a $150.00 Fijian credit at Lulu’s.  We had a nice dinner and wonderful chocolate dessert.  Unfortunately we did not manage to spend all the money, so they insisted that the admiral buy a tee shirt!  So she did :-).  We then had a nice walk back to the hotel.  So far airplane lag was held at bay, and we both slept through the night with minor issues.  Melatonin helps a lot with this!

Day 3: -10

Breakfast again and a good coffee at the hotel coffee shop!   Then re-pack and leave for the cruise ship around 1ish Fiji time.  It took a whole 5 minutes to drive to Denarau Marina and find the Fiji Princess check-in desk at the prescribed check-in time.   Since this is Fiji they were not ready to check anyone in yet and told us to come back in 30 minutes.  So we went and found a place for lunch.  In 40 minutes we wandered back to check-in and filled out some paperwork and they told us to come back in 20 to 30 minutes.

Remember this is Fiji so you have to think in Fiji time!   However as I travel frequently I have learned to just go with the flow.  So time is irrelevant here.  However after waiting for the necessary island time with rain delays we eventually boarded Fiji princess with our fellow travelers.

Fiji Princess

Fiji Princess

Fiji Princess Salon

Fiji Princess Salon

As soon as everyone as on board and settling into the dining room the boat left the marina without any fanfare and headed out!  While we were all sitting waiting for information we met Johne our “cruise director”.  He then proceeded to introduce the captains (yes we had about 4 captains) and the ship’s master, then we received the required safety drill in a Fijian style.  We were introduced to our bartender Tony (Have to keep priorities straightJ) and the rest of the crew and the trip was on!

So began 7 days of mostly sunny, stunning, hot, beautiful weather,  crystal clear water containing 365 shades of blue, and around every turn another beautiful stereotypical tropical South Pacific beach with palm trees and sandy beaches!

Typical view!

Typical view!

I won’t bore you with each day’s details as I do not possess the language skills to accurately describe the beauty we saw but I will make some comment about the ship the crew and fellow passengers.  I am posting some photos but they can only provide a hint of this place.

Crew:

The crew is made up of all local people.  They were all very capable and very welcoming.  Their personalities and attitude made up for any shortfall in the quality of the ship, service or food.  They made you laugh all the time and they were always laughing and joking among themselves (probably about all the sunburned passengers).  They were always willing to talk to the guests and did what they could to accommodate requests. The Ships Master was  involved in everything from driving the ship, operation a tender, being a tour guide, leading snorkeling trips, feeding sharks, handling sea snakes, making (and drinking) kava, singing and playing guitar, an cleaning the ship’s hull.  He led the crew by example and nothing was too trivial for him.  Plus he was just a nice guy!  The rest of the crew was just as involved in everything.

The Bollywood nite Men

The Bollywood nite Men

The Admiral and Johne

The Admiral and Johne

The Bollywood nite "Women"

The Bollywood nite “Women”

Ship:

This ship is small, so don’t think you’ll have the accommodations of a 5000 passenger typical cruise ship.  You will be sadly disappointed.  The cabins are small but comfortable.  The AC worked well in the cabins.  The cabins are the only place that is air conditioned.  The heads or Vale lailai (bathroom for my land lubber friends) in the cabin are, shall we say, small.  This is a wet head.  Read no shower curtain.  When you take a shower everything gets wet.  But the water is hot, plentiful and you can take a good shower!   Only complaint is there are no stowage bins or drawers for anything that you don’t want to hang up.  So stuff kinda gets all over the cabin.  But hey minor issue.  You’re on vacation!

Food:

This is not a trip about food.  Typically any fish dish was very good.  Meat was always too well done for my liking.  Veggies… well there were not too many of them but the fruit was usually great!  Once again all short falling was more than made up for by the crew and their fantastic attitude and unending smiles.  We always had more food than you could ever want or need, and there were some interesting local foods but always something you would want to eat.  Breakfast was an interesting affair and the only meal that was served to you, all else was buffet style.  This worked well.  At around 7:30 Fiji time over the ships loudspeaker system Johne would come on and say “Vinaka levu it is now time for breakfast”.  Forget sleeping in :-).  He would announce all meals and happy hour!   This although it may sound annoying was actually great!

Bar:

As expected the bar was the hub of ship activity around happy hour!  When we would arrive Tony would say “here are the Americans”.   He said this every day because we were the only folks from the USA on the ship, there were other Americans on the ship but they were from the other America… Canada LOL.  First time on vacation where we were the only folks from USA.  This was kind of fun and made for interesting conversations!  By the way Tony makes a good Bombay Sapphire and tonic for those hot evenings under the Fijian skies.

Fellow travelers:  (seven dayers)

OK going back to the title of this post…. Fiji  –  Would I go Again   NO, unless……. unless I had a chance to travel with these great fellow travelers again.   Fiji is quite a stretch for us from New England to get there and not without some level of pain and suffering (even in Business Class of Fiji Airways 60000 hours of flying is a long time).  However this was one of the most interesting and fun loving group of fellow travelers we have ever been fortunate enough to travel with.  We have in the past made good friends on other cruises and we value their friendship and we are still in touch with them and there probably reading this blog entry now feeling insulted (please don’t feel insulted), but this as a group of travelers was an incredible experience.  We never laughed so much in a week and enjoyed the company of the entire group.  If this group ever came together again on a trip I would fly half way around the world to join them.   We have the great joy of meeting folks from Australia, New Zealand,  Germany,  and folks from next door in Canada.  I will say this…. These fellow travelers were interesting, welcoming and knew how to have a good time.  No one was stuck-up or thought they were better than anyone else including their interaction with the crew.  I won’t go into the things I’m sure we have all seen with how some fellow passengers will mistreat the crew.  This attitude does not go over very well with me.  I have been known to make a comment or two over the years to fellow passengers who have spoken down to the crew as if they were their servants.  They are not.  They are hard working people trying to make a living, in the service sector.  I’ll stop my rant here, and repeat again that I did not see this attitude from any of my fellow passengers to the crew.  I heard a ton of Bula’s and Vinaka’s through the trip (Hello and thank you) to the crew from the passengers for the crews assistance with all manner of request.  This was refreshing and a welcome change in behavior and this too makes me want to join this group of travelers again.  So if any of my fellow seven dayers are thinking of a reunion trip let us know we would love to go with you all!

OK I know some of our readers are saying what is a seven dayer.    Well Fiji Princess basically does a 3 day and a 4 day cruise.  If you chose to do these back to back you’re doing a 7 day cruise.  On this week we did our back to back 7 day cruise there were several other couples doing the same thing.  We became the 7dayers!

Conclusion:   Day 10

Hey where did the rest of the days go?   Well I did not plan to write a complete trip report just the highlights.  The photos in the blog speak for themselves and really say much better than I can how Fiji is.  Once again come back to the title of this blog    Fiji  –  Would I go Again   NO, unless…….     you know my answer but I feel I need to add a bit more.  IF you have Fiji on your bucket list and have burning desire to see this beautiful friendly set of south sea’s islands with you own eyes,  I would say go ahead and go to Fiji, you won’t be disappointed.   If you’re only thinking that it would be nice to go to Fiji I would say save your money and go to Hawaii.  If you looking for a little more off the beaten path adventure Tahiti I think is prettier still than Fiji, but more expensive and about the same flight time from LA.  However last time we were there the reefs were much better from all aspects and I think they are a bit greener!  I like green lush islands.  Fiji is green and lush but not as green and lush as Tahiti.  So there you have it, one man opinion and you all know about opinions…….

Oh about day 10 we all sadly got our sorry butts off Fiji Princess and started on the next legs of our adventure in life.  Some of our fellow 7 dayers were going to stay in Fiji for another week and set off for other islands and resorts.  I think we were all a little saddened to say good bye to one another and the crew of Fiji Princess.   For the admiral and I, we had taken a day room back at the Sofitel resort  till our flight left that evening for LAX.  At about 6:30 PM local tine we were picked up at the resort and transported to Nadi international airport.  There we had one more interesting thing happen to us.  Let me back up to 6:00 PM at the grand lobby of the Sofitel.  While we were checking out there was a large group of what turned out to be Americans who were getting on two buses and heading to the airport.  I could tell they were Americans, and I leave it at that.  However they we obviously on some kind of a tour program.  I noticed that they were with Collette Guided Tours, which is actually headquartered in a town about 20 klicks from our home.   So at 6:10 there buses left for the same airport we were going to.  I thought ugg we’ll all be checking in at the same time and going through security.  What a mess.   Anyway we arrived at the airport about 20 minutes after they did, but being a tour group they we kept together and since we were traveling business class they were not in our check-in line.  Fortunately for us, as even as business class travelers it took 15 minutes to check in,  remember we’re in Fiji….    Anyway while waiting for the next available attendant to check us in we were talking to the tour leader  who for some reason was in the business class line with us,  anyway as we were talking to him he asked us where we were from, since he knew we were going to LAX.  We said we come from a small town south of Boston, MA that he probably would not know of.  He pushed us a bit more by saying that he too came from a small town south of Boston…   Well as you can imagine he was from our town and leading this tour group.  Small world.  We have to go all the way to Fiji to meet neighbors!  Anyway we checked in, went through Fiji immigration and what stands for security in Nadi International Airport and soon we were on our way back to America!  We left Fiji at 10:30 PM on Friday and landed in LAX at 11:30 AM the same day, arriving before we left Fiji . 🙂    have to love the International Date Line.  I end this here.