Island-hopping on a sea princess

Lomaviti Princess V berthed at the Taveuni Jetty. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

COMFORT in sea travel is what embraces you the moment you set foot on the spacious salon of Goundar Shipping’s five star pride — Lomaiviti Princess V (LP5).

And for the typical 18-plus hours of sailing from Muaiwalu Wharf formerly known as Narain Jetty in Suva to Taveuni, this is all you’ll ever need.

On a seamless sea journey, if the weather is on your side, the often tumultuous Nasilai Reef Passage and Koro Sea may be nothing but a stroll in the park.

But should the unpredictable happen, the ship’s crew is made up of skilled and qualified seamen whose prime task is to make your sea passage an unforgettable and danger-free experience.

Being a former luxury river cruise ship from Canada, the interior design and decor of this $2.5 million vessel, the largest and most prestigious in Goundar Shipping’s fleet, boasts passenger facilities that speak the language of extravagance and relaxation.

For the first-time inter-island traveller you might be taken aback by the ship’s “no footwear in lounge” policy.

No need to get frustrated here because the idea is to keep the salon area always prim and proper, the floor immaculately polished and the carpet smooth and clean.

So as a travel tip, always carry a pair of thongs which you can easily put on and take off should you need to go to the toilet or enjoy the fresh air blowing on decks both from the starboard and port sides.

For entertainment, there are overhead television screens to watch movies during the trip and forget about the tumultuous Nasilai Reef Passage and Koro Sea.

The ship’s restaurant, located at the aft, serves sumptuous meals starting with hearty breakfasts of toast and eggs with a choice of either hot beverages or cold drinks.

Lunches and dinners typically serve meat dishes including spicy curries and Asian-inspired stir-fries.

If you miss on board meals, a brief stopover in Savusavu allows you to step out and grab a bite of fresh fish wraps called pasela in the local dialect, roti and curry and an assortment of chilled homemade juices.

For toilet facilities, you get to use the best in inter-island heads outfitted with neat cubicles, urinals, wall mirrors and hand-sensitive wash basins.

There is a Kid’s Zone for babies and toddlers who need a safe space to say on board while a ship elevator allows easy transfer of passengers who have difficulty climbing up and down the ship’s flight of stairs.

But what makes your trip on LP5 memorable is its attentive-to-a-tee friendly staff — from the welcoming pursar and hardworking steward that greet you as you enter to the friendly chief and youthful cadet.

LP5 employs as many as 55 people, taking the company’s total ship employee portfolio to about 200.

For a company that made its maiden voyage in 2011 with the entry of Lomaiviti Princess I, this is a great track record.

Goundar Shipping acquired Lomaiviti Princess I in 2011, Lomaiviti Princess II in 2013, Lomaiviti Princess III in 2015, Lomaiviti Princess IV in 2016 and Lomaiviti Princess V in 2017.

There are plans to acquire a few more vessels by end of 2019.

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