Fiji keen to embrace next wave of luxury cruising

"I think there is absolute room for growth," Brent Hill, CEO Tourism Fiji

Tourism Fiji has its eye on developing the niche ultra-luxury cruise market while broadening the scope for existing medium- and large-ship operations.

In recent months, small-ship luxury and expedition cruise lines including Scenic, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions and Swan Hellenic have introduced all-new itineraries and programs to the South Pacific that include calls and turnarounds in Fiji.

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Those names – some of which will be first-time operators to Fiji – are accompanied by seasonal passings or round-the-world sailings from the likes of Silversea, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Seabourn and Windstar Cruises.

As LATTE exclusively revealed, the six-star Scenic Eclipse II is scheduled to explore the Fijian islands in March 2024, and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ German-speaking HANSEATIC spirit will likewise include port calls in Fiji’s islands during the same month.

“For me, cruise is an area I think Fiji is perfect for and it feels like it’s undercooked,” said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

Hill said the tourism office will always remain “100% totally committed” to the local players in the market.

“We will continue to work with Captain Cook and Blue Lagoon [Cruises] who are already and well established. We want to get their products absolutely humming, and that’s our first priority and commitment.”

iCaptain Cook Cruises' Reef Endeavour at the Lau Group of Islands, Fiji

“I believe there are opportunities for that mid-sized and larger ship market as well,” Hill told LATTE, adding he is quite conscious cruise lines aren’t overly keen on operating tenders to port, instead preferring to dock.

“There is a lot of opportunity around Fiji and maybe we can have that conversation regarding infrastructure,” he said, suggesting large cruise companies could work with the Fiji government to co-fund new port facilities.

“With 333 islands Fiji is paradise, so when I look at some of those bigger ships, I’m really interested in attracting them, as well as the luxury, boutique-sized ships.”

“I think there is absolute room for growth. Fiji doesn’t have a reputation for cruising per se, and when I look at that, I wonder why not? We’ve got some of the best content in the world and luring the likes of Scenic, we have the opportunity to match those two things together.”

Brent Hill, CEO Tourism Fiji

“I’m absolutely interested in working with them as much as we can. And I think there’s some amazing content that would suit exactly what their clients are looking for. There are parts of Fiji that remain virtually undiscovered – like the Yasawas and Lau Group – and cruise is the best way of seeing it.”

“If cruise passengers have the ability to get out on a boat and get dropped in the water they are going to have some of the best snorkelling and diving experiences in the world. And to see the islands of Fiji from the sky, as offered by some of these six-star ships, adds a totally different dimension to the experience.

“I’m really keen in getting more of that luxury cruising into Fiji,” Hill said.

Lead image credit: Yasawa Islands, Jeremy Bezanger/Unsplash

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