Are you thinking of taking one of the Captain Cook Cruises Fiji cruises? Wondering whether it will suit you and your family? Well, you have come to the right place.
I’ve been on a Fiji cruise with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji and am confident I can answer your questions. Whilst the focus on this website is on family holidays, there’s also lots of useful information here for couple, group and solo travellers.
Now, you might need a cup of tea… or perhaps a gin and tonic, glass of wine or a bowl of Fijian kava. This article is pretty long, with lots of photos to show you the ship, the Reef Endeavour, and the places we visited. No rushing allowed, you can slip into Fiji time, settle in and slow down… get into the holiday spirit.
Contents of this post
- The Reef Endeavour: What Is The Ship Like?
- What Is The Food Like Aboard?
- Activities Aboard The Reef Endeavour
- Meet Some Of The Crew
- Things To Do Ashore: Land Excursions
- What To Pack and What Not To Pack
- Is A Fiji Islands Cruise Suitable For Solo Travellers?
- Captain Cook Cruises Fiji Prices
- Is This An All-Inclusive Holiday?
- Captain Cook Cruises Fiji Contacts + Booking
- Shore Excursions: Photo Essays
Why Cruise Fiji’s Islands?
Well, Fiji has 330 islands, around one-third of which are inhabitied. Whilst many lovely resorts can be found on the islands, to see more of them you really need to travel by ship. If buying a yacht and running away to sea isn’t an option, then a 3 – 11 day cruise around the Fijian islands will show you beautiful and remote places which you just cannot visit any other way. You’ll also meet islanders and see their way of life in a way you could not alone.
Is a Fijian Islands Cruise Family Friendly?
Captain Cook Cruises Fiji welcomes children aged five and over. Under fives are not able to cruise as they are just too young. For watersports-loving families, an island cruise is just delightful and full of opportunities to explore the islands and beaches by kayak, to swim and to snorkel extensively.
Is There A Kids Club Aboard?
Yes, children aged 5 – 9 years can be looked after during the following hours: 9am – 12 noon, 2pm – 5pm and 6pm – 9pm. This is no normal kids club though, the children often go ashore to play on the beach and to kayak and snorkel, under supervision. There are no screens at kids club here! Parents can snorkel alone, or go diving, do the shore excursions or just lounge, read and laze on land or on the ship.
What Can Older Kids Do?
Children older than 10 years can join their parents snorkelling or at the beach, and on all shore excursions. These cruises make terrific holidays for teenagers as they have got some freedom in where they can go aboard the ship, there’s the pool to swim in too, and areas to get together with others, plus there are adventurous activities to keep them busy too. Teens can learn to scuba dive, do lots of snorkelling, explore the islands and do some hikes too.
The Reef Endeavour: What Is The Ship Like?
‘Is it like a floating RSL?’ asked one friend of mine, very bluntly. The answer is a resounded NO… we have previously cruised on the Carnival Spirit (read our Best and Worst Of story here), and the Reef Endeavour is a world away from that sort of huge ship.
The Reef Endeavour has only 63 cabins, staterooms and suites, with a maximum capacity of 140 guests, so it is much more of an expedition ship. The whole experience felt very personal to me. With a smaller ship there’s also a smaller crew and getting to know them was very much part of the joy of being aboard. See more in the Crew section below.
What sorts of cabins are there?
Each of the three cabin types has a private ensuite bathroom, air conditioning, power, hair dryers, is serviced daily and has towels, shampoo conditioner and soap.
The cheaper cabins do not have access to the outside, rather having a porthole window into an internal corridor, they are 14 square metres.
The Ocean Staterooms are also 14 square metres and they have two windows looking onto the outside deck.
The Tabua Suites are 28 square metres and have a lounge as well as the bedroom. These suites also have a TV and DVD player, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and a second bathroom.
All types of cabin offer double beds or twin singles. For families there are triple and quad rooms and also connecting family staterooms.
NB the double beds might feel small if you are used to a queen or a king, some couples might prefer twin singles.
Reef Endeavour Family Rooms
For families, you have options of two staterooms or twin and triple or quad Porthole Cabins… but the best thing to do is get on the phone and have a chat to Captain Cook Cruises Fiji staff on 1300 86 3454, whilst looking at the ship layout online here.
You can also do live chat on the website if you prefer. If you are not in Australia, use the Contact Us page here.
Is It Accessible?
The Reef Endeavour is not an accessible ship for wheelchair users, there are many steps aboard over the four decks. Also the remote islands visited are not wheelchair-friendly, especially tricky are the landings from small ships to the beach. See photos of our Waya Island ‘wet landing’ below.
However the ship and crew are disability-friendly and good for elderly people and those using sticks so long as stairs can be managed. Some trips may be a challenge though, as an example, people doing the dedicated snorkelling trips must be able to jump in from the side of the tender and then to use a ladder to get back aboard.
What Is The Food Like Aboard?
Well, there’s plenty of it, with heaps of healthy options too. Breakfast and evening meals are served in the dining room with guests seated at tables of 6 – 8 people. On the first evenings you are given allocated seating which is great for chatting to people and making friends. There are usually three options for each of the three courses, two dinners were buffets.
Lunches are buffet meals served in the main Captain Cook Lounge and offer a profusion of fresh salads, fish and meat options.
Are kids meals served?
Yes, in school holidays when there are a lot of families aboard meals such as fish and chips and spaghetti bolognaise are served for the children.
Can Special Diets be Catered For?
Yes, there is plenty for vegetarians and coeliacs aboard were happy with their choices, especially the afternoon tea cakes. But please do call to chat through your needs with staff before booking.
Is Kava Served??!!
Yes, you will have opportunities to drink small bowls of kava with the all Fijian staff who can show you the cultural ropes.
What about Hygiene and Safety Aboard?
I was never concerned about any matter when aboard and felt very safe under the care of expert boatmen and the ship’s captain. Life jackets must be worn by children on boat trips and by all who use kayaks and SUPs. Hand sanitiser is always offered before meals.
Activities Aboard The Reef Endeavour
The Reef Endeavour has a pool to cool down in and a spa to bubble in. There are comfortable chairs and loungers in which to recline and read your book, or think great thoughts. Sitting and chatting to other cruisers proved to be one of the best and most fun things to do when I cruised.
There are daily talks from crew members, our Marine Biologist Michelle gave talks about the coral reefs and others gave talks about aspects of Fijian culture. This was very handy as there are cultural protocols which must be followed when visiting villages and these were gently explained to us.
What’s The Time On Land to Time On Boat Ratio?
If you are a person who does not want to spend days at a time at sea then an islands cruise would work well. The Reef Endeavour is never out of sight of an island and there are two to three land excursions on offer a day.
Does the boat seem crowded and are queues for shore excursions managed well?
I was very happy with how smoothly the management of snorkelling trips and shore excursions was managed. There are various departures several times a day, with the larger glass-bottomed boat and smaller tenders taking passengers here and there. We were called to the main deck just before leaving and never had to wait to long at all. And there’s always someone to chat to.
The system for getting into the tenders is surprisingly easy and smooth, with a hydraulic lift being used to secure them steadily in place as passengers get on. It’s ingenious and makes the excursions easy. One wee note though, the ship was not at full capacity when I was aboard and perhaps when completely full one might need to wait a bit more. But you’re on holiday, where’s the rush?
Wifi and internet
Wifi is available in the main Captain Cook Lounge however in some remoter areas it can be very patchy. This is because the wifi comes from 3G signals which most islands have, however not always reliably. Take a break from your screens!
By the way, there’s only a TV in the Reef Room, and in the larger Tabua Suites. Hooray.
I needed to do some work whilst aboard and didn’t want to rely on the ship’s wifi, so I bought a Vodaphone SIM card at Denarau, very expensive at AUS$50 for 20GB. This meant I could send emails and do social media in my room, so long as the 3G signal from the islands was on, which it wasn’t always. But if I was on a 100% holiday I would not have bothered.
Meet Some Of The Crew
Things To Do Ashore: Land Excursions
What Sorts Of Land Excursions Are Available?
Depending on the cruise chosen, there will be visits to villages, beaches, schools, coral reefs and sea caves available daily. The Yasawas Islands 3-, 4- and 7-day cruises have a big focus on beautiful beaches and coral reefs, with at least one snorkelling trip a day, sometimes two. There are always school and village visits on offer on each cruise too. The Culture Cruise offers a deeper look at four of Fiji’s cultural groups and the 11 night Lau Islands and Kadavu cruise takes you to some very remote islands with beautiful waterfalls and fascinating wildlife, as well as school and village visits.
See more photos and descriptions of some of the land excursions at the end of this article.
There were three vigourous hikes on offer over the week, none of which I took advantage of as they looked very steep and it was warm even early in the morning. But the hikers came back sweaty and happy having seen amazing views.
What is the snorkelling like?
I adored the snorkelling, loved being amongst the teeming fish life and exploring the soft and hard corals. However, if you are looking for the absolute world’s best coral reefs, these are not they. Some of the reefs have been heavily damaged by cyclones and there is a lack of larger fish, due to overfishing.
Nonetheless, there were many happy snorkellers who really appreciated all of the dedicated snorkelling trips out from the ship. You do need to be able to jump off the tender into the water and also to climb back aboard using a ladder. Some passengers simply snorkelled off the beaches, but for better reefs the boat trips were the go.
Some snorkellers saw sharks and turtles, I was jealous! The diving is very different with deeper and more adventurous areas to explore and a greater variety of large sea animals.
Is scuba diving available?
Yes, there are scuba dives on offer daily and you can learn to dive when aboard. I didn’t dive myself, so to read more about this check out this Fiji article on Diveplanit.
Do you feel like you’re experiencing authentic Fijian culture?
Yes, most definitely and much more so than we did on previous Fiji resort holidays, even on small island resorts. On the Reef Endeavour we visited quite remote and traditional islands where the Fijian people live a simple and semi-subsistence lifestyle. It was fascinating and highly appealling.
The wonderful crew of the Reef Endeavour also welcomed us into their Fijian culture, how exuberant they are and how cheerful! The crew sang with gusto and showed us how to drink kava and did a fantastic show of traditional Fijian costume too. Then there are the daily cultural and reef talks. With a fairly small crew, you do get to know staff well and, for me, that was one of the deep joys of this trip.
Can we donate to families and villages on the island?
Yes and it is easy to do so. Each village or school you visit will have a collection box which you can put notes and coins into. These fund projects to benefit the entire village. It’s important NOT to give money to individual people, nor to the children.
There are also handicraft markets at some villages and you can buy items from individual women there, things like tea towels, tapa cloth, jewellery. Shells are also sold but it is best to leave those as collecting them is damaging to the reefs. The villages will benefit more from a healthy reef attracting visitors and supporting fish life in the long term than from selling shells which is short term.
What To Pack and What Not To Pack
Fiji has a tropical climate with daytime temperatures ranging from 31°C – 28°C degrees and night time lows being 20°C – 23°C. The drier months are May – October, and rainy season runs from November – April, with squally showers not day long rain.
Smart casual is the dress code for most dinners, and casual and comfortable for other times. There is a dress code for visiting village, the knees should be covered and no bare shoulders. Also you do not wear hats in Fijian villages, nor sunglasses on your head.
Of course you need plenty of bathers, sarongs and sun hats for beach and snorkelling. Beach towels are provided daily.
I had expected to need a jumper or cardigan when aboard, however did not use one once even on the days when it was pretty breezy out at sea.
Is A Fiji Islands Cruise Suitable For Solo Travellers?
Most definitely. There were many solo cruisers aboard on the cruise I did and they quickly made friends. The crew members are very friendly, as are most passengers and the allocated seating for the initial meals meant that you always had a friendly face to talk to.
Captain Cook Cruises Fiji Prices
Prices vary by length of cruise and time of year too. The lowest prices start at around $1200 – $2012 per person for the 3 Day Mamanuca and Southern Yasawas cruise, up to $5875 – $7380 per person for the 11 day Lau Group Cruise.
You can save 20% by booking early and I can highly recommend keeping an eye on the Fiji Specials webpage and also talking direct to Captain Cook Cruises and asking to be kept aware of any last minute specials.
Is This An All-Inclusive Holiday?
Yes, the Captain Cook Cruises Fiji prices include almost all expenses. There are some very low extra costs to visit one village and to visit the Sea Cave, with these costs of around $10 and $15 Fiji going direct to the local villagers.
Drinks are not included in the cost of the cruise and can be quite expensive. People often drink beer which is cheaper, cocktails cost Fiji $19 or so and bottles of wine started at Fiji $40, you can keep a bottle behind the bar and have a glass as required.
Captain Cook Cruises Fiji Contacts + Booking
The website for Captain Cook Cruises Fiji (click here) is very good, with lots of information and photos. But still, I always recommend calling to speak to a real person (or using the LiveChat on the website) to make sure you let the company know all about your family and what you are looking for in a Fiji holiday.
Captain Cook Cruises Fiji Phone number: 1300 86 3454
Booking direct is always better for the company, no middle men!
Do you have any questions?
Please do ask away in the comments here and I will do my utmost to answer them for you!
Shore Excursions: Photo Essays
Waya Island Village and School Tour
Gunu village on Waya Island is in the remote north of the Yasawa islands. There are 200 residents, living in 57 houses. There’s a nurse stationed there and a school which has many boarders from other islands.
Nadi Mud Pools + Hot Springs
There’s a short morning stop at Denarau on the 7 day Yasawas cruise and one of the free excursions on offer is to the mud pools and hot springs just outside Nadi.
Here’s a picture for posting to Pinterest!
Disclaimer: My cruise was supported by Captain Cook Cruises, many thanks to them. All opinions are my own, of course.