Malolo Island, Fiji and Lautoka, Fiji
This was our last full day on the ship. We both woke before 5:00am and tried to go back to sleep. At 5:15 we gave up and got out of bed. Up at La Palette we chatted with the other early risers, comparing excursion notes from the previous day.
At 7:30 we went to La Veranda for breakfast. In addition to the fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon, and sausage, there was a big steamer tray of GRITS! I helped myself to a bowl and enjoyed them greatly.
We goofed off for an hour after breakfast and then hit the fitness center for some aerobic exercise. When we were cleaned up, it was still pouring down rain outside, so I decided to stay on the ship rather than go to the island. Chris wanted to see what was there, though, so she put on her swimsuit and cover-up, grabbed her book, towel, camera and sunscreen, and went to catch a tender.
While she was gone, I watched the rain and typed in La Palette, ate a quick lunch, read in the room, and reviewed our photos. At 2:00, I returned to the spa for one last massage. It was very relaxing, and I think I may have fallen asleep during the scalp massage. Mmmm!
Chris’s day at the beach
Chris boarded the next tender and waited for it to depart. The ship was anchored quite a way from Malolo, so the tender took fifteen minutes to arrive at the Malolo Island Resort dock. Despite the rain that was still falling, the tender was met by a welcome committee with singing, dancing, shell necklaces and fruit punch.
Since it was raining, Chris didn’t want to stay at the beach, but she wasn’t sure where to go. After a little bit of looking around, she sniffed out the gift shop. She met another passenger, named Rose, and the two of them made a game of trying to find something in the shop that was actually made in Fiji. Nearly everything came from China and Indonesia. She finally found a bar of coconut soap with a flower hand painted on it and the word “Fiji” written on the package. She bought it as a gift.
Chris, Rose, and Rose’s husband, Kevin, left the gift shop with the intention of doing some swimming. However, it was still pouring rain, so Chris and Rose went to “Treetop”, the resort’s bar instead. Kevin was determined to snorkel, so he went to the beach and left Chris and Rose to chat and watch the rain. They both ordered Bloody Marys, which were awful – bad tomato juice and no detectable amount of alcohol. To add insult to injury, the drinks cost FJ$16.50 (about US$10.00) each.
By 1:30, they were tired of watching the rain and didn’t want another drink, so they returned to the pier to catch the next tender. There was no sign of the tender, so they knew they had some time. Chris decided to go swimming despite the rain. She was already soaking wet, anyway. She went for a dip in the lagoon and swam until the tender returned. She arrived back at the ship a little after 2:30.
It was too late to get lunch from one of the restaurants, so she ordered a chef’s salad from room service and was waiting for it when I returned from my massage. Room service must have been busy; it took 30 minutes for the salad to arrive.
While Chris was eating and telling me about her day, our phone rang. It was the ship’s marina reminding us to return our snorkel gear. I returned it right away and let Chris eat in peace.
After her lunch, Chris took a nap. The ship had weighed anchor and we were sailing to our final port: Lautoka, Fiji. I sat on our balcony and watched our progress. I noticed the rain had stopped and the sky was clearing. Nice timing.
We dressed for dinner early. Around 5:15 we went to the pool bar and watched as we arrived in Lautoka. We talked with Pete Neighbour and asked if he had a CD of his work. He did. He retrieved one from his room, and we paid him in French Polynesian francs. He was happy to get them, because he would be back there in two weeks. He would be playing on four more Tahiti-based cruises before he returned home.
At 6:30 we descended to the Grand Salon for the farewell party. Part of the event was recognition of the entire service staff of the ship. We applauded enthusiastically for the people who had made our cruise so relaxing and enjoyable.
As the party continued, we talked to Steven and Marlene and we decided to have dinner together. We also talked about the trouble I was going to have getting my swordfish bill home. Steven realized it would fit in one of their bags, and suggested we could get it from them after we were home. I got the sword from our stateroom and took it to Steven, who packed it in his duffle – protected by an umbrella and padded with dirty clothes.
We had a nice dinner with Steven and Marlene. We talked about their kids and our respective cruise adventures. Since we had yet to pack, we left dinner a little early, getting back to our room at 9:00.
As we gathered up our clothes, electronics, souvenirs, etc., we started to feel sad about leaving. I began to get my typical travel anxiety, knowing that we had lots of hard deadlines to hit during the next day’s travels.
Packing took longer than we expected. We didn’t get the suitcases into the hallway until 10:30. When I put them out, I found an envelope in our door’s message slot. It was a message from the travel desk informing us that our flight from Fiji to Los Angeles had been delayed four hours. It would leave Nadi airport at 3:00am on Monday. Since we had booked the flight through Regent, they had automatically rebooked our flight from LAX to San Francisco. Instead of getting into SFO at 5:30pm and home by 7:00, we wouldn’t get in until 9:30pm.
Once we were in bed, Chris dropped right off to sleep, but I tossed and turned, thinking about the long day ahead. Once I did finally fall asleep, I awoke every hour.