MORE than 3000 tourists converged on the city of Lautoka yesterday, adding to the hundreds of locals who arrived for the prestigious Uprising Fiji International Sevens.
Bustling with energy, there was little to reveal the city had just experienced and suffered from one of the strongest storms to hit Fiji.
Australian couple and first timers to the country, Ryan and Beverly Kadish, said they loved the warmth and the Fijian hospitality they experienced since stepping off the ship.
"We knew Lautoka was a city that was badly affected but its bustling, you just can't tell a cyclone passed through here," said Mr Kadish.
"We didn't know what to expect but we feel at home after being greeted by smiling Fijians."
The cruise vessel Voyager of the Seas, one of the world's largest cruise ships, berthed at the Lautoka Wharf yesterday carrying 3500 visitors.
Special administrator Praveen Bala said hard work in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Evan paid off and he was relieved the tourists were happy.
"A stronger Lautoka can emerge from Evan and that is what we are working towards," he said.
Another frequent visitor, Clint Buckingham, said he looked forward to mingling with locals and was excited about exploring Lautoka and Nadi. He was accompanied by his wife and children,
Lautoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry administrator Mohammed Salim said the arrival of the ship boosted economic activity in the city.
"The arrival of cruise ships will definitely give confidence to business operators.
"The taxi and bus businesses also benefited from the arrival of this cruise ship," he added.