Tuesday 24 May 2016

Diving with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji


by Deb Dickson-Smith - Diveplanit.com

Being natural explorers, divers usually like to discover new places to dive and quite often, a diving holiday will involve lots of transfers, and the schlepping around of dive gear from one resort to the next. Which doesn’t usually leave much time to experience the other aspects of travel – food, culture, wildlife, landscape - and it’s not exactly family friendly either.

However there is a way to combine all of these elements and take the family with you. Captain Cook Cruises’ Reef Endeavour sails through some of the more remote parts of Fiji visiting world-class dive sites, as well as waterfalls, villages, and historic towns.

The ship sails overnight from one destination to the next, on 7 to 11 night cruises, with different itineraries taking different routes through the archipelago, so each day you wake up to a new dive site and a new island to explore.

Glorious Bouma Falls on Taveuni
Every morning you wake up in a different place, have the option to do two dives on remote dive sites, in a small group, in clear warm sunlit waters and the rest of the day and evening you can go ashore, visit natural wonders, share cava with friendly villagers or just sip cocktails around the pool.

And if you brought the kids, they’ll be well taken care of at kids club, or hanging with the new friends they’re bound to have met by at least Day 2.

A typical day starts with a peak out of the window of your air-conditioned en-suite cabin onto the day’s destination, lush Fijian hills sloping gently to a small village and a white sandy shore. The water's flat, the air is warm and the sun shining.

Over a buffet breakfast the dive guide gives us the dive brief, and at 9am we head to the rear of the ship with our basics. The tender pulls around, with gear already loaded, tanks already set up and weights on board.

Checking dive gear aboard Reef Endeavour
The trip in the tender is rarely more than 10 minutes and on board with you are the dive instructor, dive guide, skipper, sometimes Ben the resident marine biologist, and often a spare deck and just to help people get in and out of their gear.

As you arrive at the dive site pinpointed by GPS you have that momentary thought: are we definitely in the right place - there's nobody else here? Before remembering that that's precisely why you’re here.

As you slip beneath the calm clear waters it shows: expenses of unbroken hard coral, great meadows of soft corals, populated by friendly Fijian fish and usually all above the 20m mark giving plenty of dive time and great natural ambient light.

On the way back to the ship divers occasionally get the chance to join the snorkelers exploring the shallow coral reefs closer to shore, or you can opt to be dropped off at the beach to play around with a stand-up paddle boards and kayaks. Then it's back to the comforts of a floating resort, a quick shower and change and lunch around the pool.

The afternoon might be filled with a trip to the local historic town, a school, even a church service to hear the Fijians sing. Longer excursions are also on offer to check out rainforest walks, caves or plunging waterfall.

Wherever you go the activities are laid on and your Fijian hosts are as friendly as ever. At a school visit to Makogai, we are entertained by little kids performing the warrior dance mimicking the full performance will see at the Lovo and Meke evening later that day.

Reef Endeavour
Dinner on board is also a bit of a ceremony: something to dress for. Cocktails and canapés are served prior, the perfect opportunity to relax on the deck and watched the sun set, followed by a three course dinner on white linen with starched napkins. There's usually entertainment too though often the other guests are entertainment enough.

The practicalities of diving and cruising are straightforward. You don't need to worry about your gear: it appears on the tender when you're ready to go diving; you leave it on the tender when you get back to the ship and miraculously it reappears, refilled and re-set up, ready for the next dive.

There is also a qualified marine biologist on board - one that grew up in these waters and gives insightful presentations on the health of the reefs, the potential threats and what can be done about them. You can also learn to dive on board, learning all the basics skills in the pool and experiencing your first open water dive in the warm clear waters.

So really, combining a diving holiday with a cruise is a bit of a crowd pleaser. Easy diving with a fantastic crew that take great care of your every needs. They’ll even remember what drink you’ll have at beer o’clock.

You can read more about the diving on Captain Cook Cruises on the Diveplanit site, or you can check out the various itineraries and dates on the Captain Cook Cruises site directly.

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