Fitting refurbishment for damaged cruise ship

The Serenity at Savasi Island, formerly known as the Tui Tai cruise ship. Picture: SUPPLIED

TROPICAL Cyclone Winston may have severely damaged the Tui Tai cruise ship but a Savusavu hotelier has turned this damaged vessel into a luxurious commodity. Owners of Savasi Private Island Paul Savenkov and his daughter Marina purchased the vessel from Tui Tai Cruises after the cyclone in 2016.

Today, this vessel, now known as Serenity is the pride of the island as it calmly sits in the river mouth of the island providing guests comfortable dining rooms for private functions.

Despite its depleted state following damage caused by the cyclone, Ms Savenkov and her team still saw greater opportunities with this vessel.

“It is true the boat was in an incredibly bad state, but knowing the Tui Tai’s long history in Fiji, we wanted to salvage it, not see it rust away,” she said.

“Everyone we speak to seems to have a story and connection to this boat and it has special meaning for those who have sailed on it.

“We welcomed the opportunity to have this piece of history at Savasi Island. Despite not sailing, we still felt it could be used to offer a unique style of accommodation at the resort.”

She said her dad saw a lot of potential in it and despite other people’s hesitations, he knew he could take on the challenge of completely restoring it. And they saw the opportunity of a floating accommodation.

“We saw opportunity for floating accommodation, bar and dining, conference facilities and it took us 18 months to refurbish it,” Ms Savenkov said.

“We felt the ship had experienced many adventures in its past life and now deserved the ‘serenity’ of our resort in her retirement.

“Savasi’s slogan is ‘private beautiful and peaceful’ and we feel the name fits into this image of tranquility and relaxation.”

The Serenity includes dining area, conference room, five split king staterooms each with private ensuite, private dining, lounge and bar, outdoor bar, jacuzzi hot tub, expansive sun decks, conference facility for up to 30 pax, cinema, games room and kitchen for serving the on board guests.

Ms Savenkov said guests who were staying on board could use the available rooms unless the boat was booked on private charter basis.

“Other guests of the resort may use the main deck facilities (bar and dining, cinema) on a request and booking basis,” she said.

“The upper levels including sun decks and jacuzzi are for private use of the Serenity guests. Locals can also use it for conferences as well.”

Although the boat is not capable of sailing, Ms Savenkov said they plan to make this happen again.

“We would like people to know the ship ceased sailing because it was badly damaged, not because of Savasi’s decision to do so,” she said.

“One day we would like to make it sailable again. We would also like to add that we are hosting an official opening/launch event, with date to be confirmed soon.”

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