WELCOME TO LAUTOKA
Tammy...We both appreciate your very nice comments. Thank you.
As we mentioned, yesterday afternoon was the Crew Tug O War event which was a completion between several departments on the ship. Before the event began, there was a parade. Each department was introduced by Cruise Director Gary Hunter. They came out in costume and marching to music they selected. On our first couple of World Cruises the winning team came from the Engineering Department. In recent years they have been overtaken by the Waterside (former Crystal Dining Room) Team. We tease them that one of the prerequisites for hiring the Waiters/Senior Waiters for Waterside are the size of their muscles. This year the final round came down to the Engineering Department and the Waterside Waitstaff Team and the winning teams was Waterside. Congratulations to all of the teams.
We received sad news yesterday about the passing of Anne Marie's Hematologist/Oncologist who she had been seeing for several years until she was on a leave of absence mid-way through last year. She was only forty-five years young and leaves behind her husband and two children. Very sad and another reminder to appreciate each day we have and not put off until tomorrow those things we can do today.
We began last evening with a pre-dinner drink at the Avenue Saloon with friends John and Linda. We also sat with Antonio who we have known for many years. Antonio worked on ships for thirty years and twenty-five of those were with Crystal Cruises. He began on Crystal Harmony, worked three years on Crystal Symphony and opened the Crystal Serenity Specialty Restaurants starting with the maiden voyage in 2003. He retired from Crystal in November 2016. It has been wonderful sailing together with Antonio and Keith has also enjoyed playing Paddle Tennis with him.
These are the Waterside Dinner menus.
We dined at the Japanese Specialty Restaurant Umi Uma with friends Joe and Maria Rita. Joe and Maria teach Yoga and Joe teaches Memoir Writing. We first met Joe and Maria on World Cruise 2007 and have sailed with them on several World Cruises, the 2016 Northwest Passage and with Joe on Crystal Symphony in 2009 crossing from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. While the four of us have dined at various venues, we have fond memories of dining together at Umi Uma.
Dinner was superb. Waiter Richie took wonderful care of us as did Sommelier Adrian.
We won't go through all the food items we ate. We did enjoy lots of Sushi and Sashimi along with Hot Soba Noodles for Keith and Scallops and Shrimp Stir Fry for Anne Marie. We dine for two and one-half hours and enjoyed lots of great conversation and lots of laughs while we ate this amazing dinner. First photo is a quintet of Nobu Special Sashimi, Second photo is Nobu Style Tacos, and third photo is a Platter of Sushi and Sashimi that the two of us shared. Truth be told Keith had the majority of the items on the platter.
When we arrived back to our room, there was a nice letter from World Cruise Hostess Stacey along with two beautiful tote bags.
The letter covered the upcoming World Cruise shore-side event for Monday evening February 4 in Auckland, the final World Cruise Games Awards Ceremony and Closing Ceremony and Super Bowl LIII Viewing on Monday (remember Monday in this part of the world) starting at 12:30 PM.
The letter included information from the Front Office about a mandatory face-to-face inspection with immigration Australian Officials on sea morning February 6 and that it might be a lengthy process. Each guest will be assigned to a specific group and is asked to wait until their respective group number is called before going to the inspection.
The seas were relatively calm last evening and we slept well. We began today as we always do with an early morning workout for Keith.
We enjoyed breakfast in our room followed by a walk by the two of us.
We arrived to Lautoka, Fiji on-schedule.
Lautoka is the second largest city of Fiji. It is known as the "sugar city" as it is located in the heart of the sugar region of Fiji. The main sugar mill was founded in 1903. Today it remains the largest city employer.
The port is the second largest port in Fiji. It is used for bulk sugar, molasses, wood chips, petroleum and gas and for cruise ships such as Crystal Serenity.
Local highlights include:
Central Market which caters to farmers and growers and sells fresh local and imported vegetables, spices and fruits.
Botanical Gardens which is located on site acres and features groves of palm trees, shrubs and flower beds.
Sugar Mill which is the largest sugar mill in the Southern Hemisphere.
Koroyanitu National Heritage Park which is home to six self sufficient villages. The park has walking paths through forests and grassland and is a great place for birdwatching and viewing natural beauty including waterfalls.
Garden of the Sleeping Giant which opened in 1977 and has a beautiful orchid collection covering 49 acres.
The Island is divided by mountains. Lautoka is located on the dry side of the island which allows for sugar cane to be grown. The other side of the island is the wet side and the number one crop is rice.
We took the tender ashore. The tides were low at the tender drop-off so we exited the tender and returned to the tender via an inclined gangway. We did not have a tour booked. We took the shuttle into town which was a ten minute ride. Dear friend John was on the shuttle with us to the town and on the tender which took us back to the ship. A couple of minutes into the drive we could see the Sugar Mill.
We were dropped off at a relatively small mall but it did have a large supermarket and department store. Nearby is a sport stadium which is home to soccer and rugby and the Central Market is close-by. The supermarket that we visited had lots of products which we would see in the United States.
The local people who we met were very friendly. Originally, we planned to walk into town and several taxi drivers asked if we wanted a tour and when we politely said no thank you there was no additional pressure from them. We were greeted with the word Bula (the way the pronounced the word it sounded like Hola) which means hello.
After returning to the ship we enjoyed lunch at Marketplace. We kept to our regular afternoon routine; Paddle Tennis for Keith, a long walk for Anne Marie, reading and writing and speaking with fellow guests and members of Team Serenity. It was HOT, HOT, HOT with a high of 87 degrees F and we think 99% humidity.
Below please find the daily Reflections program.
Anne Marie & Keith