Before I get to Fiji a quick word on Auckland. There's very little to do unless you go to the Islands so we went to the museum and what a surprise, it was excellent with a very good summary of the Maori history including a dance that seemed to me to be a cross between strictly come dancing and a rugby match with the all blacks.
To Fiji and on arrival it is evident to see this is a third world country. The airport is being rebuilt after last years cyclone and looks today like an allotment shed. Still a very friendly reception - Bula - and transfer to our hotel which was clearly not first class but only for one night. Next day transfer to the docks for our catamaran ride to Matamanoa island resort for three nights. On arrival we had the normal welcome and obligatory band playing Fijian songs. We were then called into reception as reservations as they wanted to speak to us on the phone. Well they had overbooked and our sea view bure (rom) was not available and they wanted to downgrade us. You can imagine my reaction and the phone soon went dead, some minutes later they rang back and said as a consequence of the one night downgrade they would upgrade to a villa for our remaining two nights with a bottle of champagne thrown in. The downgrade was lovely but the villa, with our private beach and plunge pool etc. was truly six stars. The island itself had good snorkelling in 27 degree water and a good time was had by all.
Another catamaran transfer to our boat the Fiji Princess for a 7 day cruise of the Yasawa Islands with Blue lagoon cruises. At first glance our boat looked abit big and we thought oh dear it a Voyage of the Damned. Well we could not have been further from the truth. The boat takes 76 passengers but only 31 were on board matched by 25 very jolly crew. Again we were upgraded although on a boat all cabins are somewhat small. Days consisted of breakfast, morning tea with cake, lunch, afternoon tea with cake, canapés and evening meal oh and some activity thrown in for good measure. Actually the snorkelling was excellent especially when we jumped in at the secret location to spot sharks which duly arrived in number and started to circle us as the captain had some bait in his hand (held above the water level so the sharks could smell it). The sharks bumped into your snorkel equipment and although small certainly looked very shark like from one inch! Having escaped the sharks one of the passengers then got bitten by a stingray (remember Steve Irwin) and needed to be taken to hospital and then someone hit their head falling out of the tender. Both were fine. Evenings included bingo ( her indoors won), karaoke and singing. We even had a private video which meant we were subject to The Birdcage . The trip was pretty much a follow the stars visiting islands where Castaway (Tom hanks), survivor (channel 4) and Blue lagoon (Jean Simmons) were filmed. We also took opportunities to visit local villages and experience culture of people who 120 years ago were cannibals. All in all met some lovely people and enjoyed every minute.
Now at this stage your thinking where is the her indoors story. Not to disappoint my readers here's two more instances of what one has to contend with. Whilst waiting for the Blue Lagoon ship she realised that she had left her sketchers shoes on the island. A few frantic phone calls latter and a military operation not seen in the South Pacific since ww2 sprang into action, here goes
Shoes collected from room on island
Shoes put on island ferry back to mainland
Shoes collected by staff on mainland and stored(we had obviously sailed at this point)
Shoes put on another ferry 4 days later
Ferry meets our ship on the high seas for ship to ship shoe transfer
Shoes delivered to our cabin
Just as we thought all was well her indoors then became involved (why oh why) when an alleged incident between two passengers happened on the boat she was last seen preparing witness statements before the Captain and the police removed both passengers!!!!!
After the cruise we have transferred to the coral coast and are staying at the Crusoe Retreat,not five star but right on the beach and very relaxing. Guess what we got upgraded again and to celebrate her indoors went for a massage.