February 16, 2010
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Victoria
Countdown to Queen Elizabeth – 243 days
Thank you again for all your comments, it really is great to hear from readers of the Blog and then to also meet many of you when you come on board. Our crew members on board are also keen followers and in a conversation the other day someone was telling me how impressed they were with the photo of the whale breach in front of Queen Victoria in Maui a couple of weeks ago. However he implied a bit of trick photography might have been used, to which I immediately pointed out that it was a genuine photo taken by our Chief Photographer Marius Botha – so in case you were thinking the same thing – now you know! We are also getting a lot of great feedback from the various video Blogs, and if you missed any of them don’t worry, you can find them easily at You Tube/WeAreCunard or by following this link:
All the videos from the building of Queen Elizabeth to the James Taylor interviews to Queen Victoria’s maiden call to San Francisco are there.
Meanwhile this Blog is dedicated to featuring one of our exciting ports of call on Queen Victoria’s 2010 World Voyage. One of the many unique aspects of a World Voyage is that they offer such a wide variety of interesting ports of call as we circumnavigate the globe. Whether it’s a day in an exciting cosmopolitan city such as San Francisco or a day relaxing on a tropical beach, it’s great to be able to do so many different things. And when it comes to relaxing on beaches and enjoying the South Pacific sunshine, it doesn’t get much better than Fiji.
I appreciate you might not want to hear about how lovely it all was, when you’re in the colder climates of Europe or North America, but if you ever want to go to a true tropical paradise then Fiji has to be a consideration.
It’s not surprising to learn that Fiji, surrounded by cobalt blue sea, has also become the back drop for many films such as Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, and more recently Castaway, which was filmed on the bigger island in the middle of this picture. As you can see this view sums up the countryside of this beautiful island.
Two of the 333 islands, called Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, make up more than 80% of the total land mass. Eventually the islands became known to Europeans as Fiji. The story goes that Captain Cook asked the Tongans what the name of the islands to their west was. He heard ‘Feegee’, the Tongan pronunciation of Viti: so the name ‘Fiji’ came from an Englishman’s mishearing of a Tongan’s mispronunciation!
Queen Victoria visited the port of Lautoka, which is the second biggest city, after the capital, Suva. Mind you it is still a small city of just a little over 50,000 inhabitants, which is also known as the Sugar City because of the many acres of sugar cane in the surrounding areas. Although sugar cane provides more employment than any other industry on the island, they also export a lot of timber and of course tourism is a growing part of their economy, with many hotel resorts around the island.
As we all disembarked we were greeted by a very friendly welcome or Bula, meaning hello, and this continued throughout the day wherever you went on the island. Many of our guests and crew took a fifteen minute taxi ride to the nearest beach resort called First Landing. So called, as legend has it, because a canoe called Kaunitoni landed here bringing the first Fijians centuries ago, hence the rather interesting manmade island off the beach!
On the island itself, and looking back at the resort, you can see it really was a true paradise.
And as for lunch, the menu was wonderful but the views – just fantastic.
The island is incredibly lush and everywhere we went we saw trees like this in full blossom.
Now that’s what I call an island home! The tree is called the Fire Tree and we were lucky to be here on one of the two times they blossom a year.
If you thought these pictures were impressive, the views most of us enjoyed were nothing compared to sixteen of our crew who had something a little more adventurous planned. Needless to say what they had arranged was not on our regular shore excursion programme, because they went skydiving!
Yes, you are probably thinking the same as me, but as Helen Eatough, one of our Entertainment Staff told me, it was a day she’ll never forget and I have to say this is a very impressive backdrop, if you are prepared to jump out of a plane at 14,000 feet!
I asked Helen about the day: –
“When one of the Cunard Royal Spa’s fitness instructors, Chrissy, told me they were planning a Skydive, I didn’t have to think about it for long, because I thought this would be the best way to see Fiji – literally! We arrived at the aerodrome and I must admit the butterflies started while I waited for my turn, but the excitement grew as I got in the plane. As the plane climbed higher and higher, and thinking we were almost there, I asked the pilot, “How high are we?” to which she said “4,000 feet – you’ve got another 10,000 to go!” This did make me a little nervous, but ten minutes later I was sat in the doorway of the plane with my legs dangling out, whilst strapped to my instructor Steve. He pulled my head back to his shoulders and counted down from three to one and then pushed me out of the plane! You can’t think of anything or even see that much for a while because you are literally plummeting to the ground for the first full minute. I only really started to enjoy the scenery when the parachute opened and I thought how gorgeous everything looked over all the islands. This took about five minutes before we landed on the beach – smoothly I might add and standing up. You probably want to know if I would do it all again – I would say without hesitation, absolutely”
I must admit I’m still not convinced, but they all came back from what they described as a thrilling day. As Queen Victoria prepared to sail that evening our guests and crew were entertained by a fantastic Police Band on the quayside which was a truly wonderful send off.
From there it was on to the city of sails, Auckland, New Zealand. That’s where we leave it for this post but on Thursday we’ll be looking at some of the exciting events that have recently been celebrated on board Queen Victoria. Coming soon will be some more news about Queen Elizabeth, with less than eight months to go before she enters service as well as an update from Queen Mary 2’s World Voyage. Cheers for now, Alastair