Making the Most of a Not-So-Favorite Port

Day 19, South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand Cruise

Friday, Oct. 21, 2022; Suva, Fiji, North Pacific Ocean.

A challenge of being one of the first cruise ships in the South Pacific after almost three years of pandemic shutdown is that things don’t always go as planned. Originally, the MS Westerdam was to cruise this fall to Japan and Asia. When it became obvious that Japan and major parts of Asia would not be open to cruise ships, Holland America changed the itinerary to one closer to ours – from the U.S. west coast to Hawaii, the South Pacific and then Australia and New Zealand.

In the few months since I booked this cruise, we have received occasional updates that dropped some ports, added others and extended our time in some. So in this case, a one-day port call in Suva, Fiji, became an overnight with two days.

I will admit that adding a second day in Suva would not have been my first choice. I’ve been here in 2017 and 2018, and it has never been a favorite of mine. It’s a city with crazy traffic, rough streets and sidewalks, bustling crowds. It is designed more for its residents than tourists, which is probably as it should be.

My new friend Diana (see Honolulu blog) and I were about to head ashore when the captain announced a 30-minute delay so he could move the ship to facilitate bunkering (taking on fuel). We used more than planned with our two medivacs and the resulting need for more speed. Once we left the ship, we ran into Nancy and headed for the market.

Suva has a great market just across the street from the pier. It was a highlight of both of my previous visits. We walked through, admiring the mounds of fruits and vegetables and beautiful cut flowers.

Because it has a large Indian population, Suva’s shops cater to all different clothing styles. Nancy was interested in getting a colorful Indian tunic with pants, and I had a great time bringing different options to her in the dressing room. She left a happy shopper, and I was happy that I enjoyed shopping without needing to make a purchase.

As we crossed the street heading back to the pier, I had to stop and admire a familiar view – a small inlet with the ship in the background. I have admired this view before – albeit with the MS Amsterdam, a slightly smaller ship – and even painted it. In the ensuing five years, the city has added a new bridge.

So, I had walked all of about six blocks in Suva, but it was enough for me. When asked at dinner what my plans were for our second day in this port, I said “sea day.” And so it was. I enjoyed a lazy morning with my latte in the Crow’s Nest and some afternoon time painting by the Lido Pool.

Tomorrow we go to Dravuni Island, one of my favorite ports, and I will be bearing gifts.