August 15, 2022 — Following a two-year lapse, Fiji welcomed its first cruise ship at the Lautoka Port.

The Carnival Cruise’s Pacific Explorer, carrying more than 1,900 passengers and crew, will be making two port calls in Fiji as part of its Fiji Adventure itinerary. Following its Lautoka Port call today, the Pacific Explorer will call on Dravuni Island on Tuesday, before leaving Fiji.

The arrival of the Pacific Explorer signifies a favourable restart of the cruise industry for Fiji and the Pacific. Representing the Fijian Government was the Minister for Infrastructure, Meteorological Services, Lands and Mineral Resources, Hon. Jone Usamate.

“The opportunity to resume cruise would not have been possible without the continued support of the Fijian Government and industry. The last two years have been extremely difficult for many businesses and operators and as a nation, our response has been to ensure the safety of our people through the implementation of quick and effective health protocols and measures. And the results speak for itself,” said Hon. Usamate.

As the Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Hon. Usamate further shared how the benefits of tourism are far reaching — beyond the industry.

“Every time I visit projects in remote villages in the interior of Fiji — villagers who have never seen tourists, I share with them how tourism contributes to critical infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity,” added Hon. Usamate.

At the welcome event, Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport and Chair of Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd, Shaheen Ali, said that Fiji was excited to have Carnival back and that this excitement is reflected in the smiles of everyone around here in Lautoka.

“The return of cruise ships into Fijian waters also marks a significant step in our economic recovery. Cruise companies, passengers and crew combined spend approx. FJ$44.2 million annually in Fiji — with every cruise bringing over $300,000 and $90 per passenger a day.”

“It’s not only welcomed news from our major ports – it’s welcomed news for Fijians across our maritime islands who earned a living through cruise visits. These are your handicraft sellers, taxis, market vendors and tour operators who lineup at the ports on cruise day,” added Ali.

Present also at the event was President, Carnival and P&O Cruises Australia, Ms Marguerite Fitzgerald who added that Carnival was pleased to be back in Fiji.

“Everyone has put in tremendous effort to get to where we are today. Starting from scratch takes a lot of people and thanked the Fijian Government and the industry for restarting cruise,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

She added that over the coming months, we will see more ships coming to Fiji with 34 visits expected over the year.

The event followed a gift exchange where Hon. Usamate presented Ms Fitzgerald with a Fijian Drua whilst the Hon. Usamate received a replica model of the vessel – Pacific Explorer.

Cruise resumption in Fiji was announced in June of this year, following close consultations with the COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce (CRMT) and relevant cruise stakeholders.

The Permanent Secretary reiterated that the Fijian Government will ensure the return of cruise carries Fiji’s commitment to care where all visitors Fijian onshore excursions will be guided by health and safety protocols, including the Care Fiji Commitment.

This is supported by specific conditions set by the CRMT for disembarking cruise passengers and crew, including being fully vaccinated and undertaking a rapid antigen test 24 hours prior to disembarkation at any Fijian port.