The dream of bringing luxury expedition cruising to Fiji’s outlying islands appears to be over, with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji dropping Ms Caledonian
from its schedules.

The line’s executive chair Allison Haworth West told Cruise Passenger the final itinerary of the 33-year-old ship would be on 26 October 2024, with guests booked beyond that date being offered earlier departures.

The vessel is owned by APT, which sailed her in the Kimberley. She is expected to return to the APT stable.

It was, as Cruise Passenger said in its first review of the ship earlier this year, a bold and courageous experiment, taking the venerable 114-passenger vessel and turning it into a truly luxury experience in Fiji.

Adding to the challenge was the plan to create a totally Fijian experience from the maritime crew and hotel staff to the expedition leaders. At one time there was talk of reflagging the Bahamas-registered vessel in Fiji.

captain cook cruises in fiji

Caledonian Sky would expand expedition cruising

Howarth West told Cruise Passenger at the time: “The arrival of MS Caledonian Sky will see an expansion in our small ship expedition cruise programs and allow us to share more exquisite and remote locations with our guests, who’ll travel in elegant comfort,” Haworth West said.

“Opening up new island locations never visited by tourists. And doing it in a sensitive and sustainable way as passengers are guided by a bigger galley team, an expedition team of multiple Marine Biologists and Cultural Experts.”

On the Captain Cook Fiji website, the vessel’s arrival was billed as “a new era of cruising in Fiji.” It included many remote islands which were not visited by other cruise vessels. It was suggested that the Fijian Government would support the venture as a unique new way into the luxury space.

Indeed, when we reviewed the ship, the islanders were a jewel in the itineraries, dressing in their Sunday best and welcoming visitors with open arms. The diving was excellent and the natural environment a brilliant backdrop to expedition.

But there were problems at the start. Even before Captain Cook Cruises took charge of the ship she was held over claims of a failure to pay the previous crew – a problem unrelated to either Captain Cook or APT.

It led to delays in a refit and meant the Caledonian Sky had to start cruising with some work still to be done, and a crew still working on training.

Speaking to Latte, Haworth West described the ship’s departure from the fleet – it was not made clear where she would now go – as a “strategic step”, adding Captain Cook
Cruises would return to island day cruising and dinner trips.

The line sold Reef Endeavour, its 28-year-old live-aboard at the same time in acquired Caledonian Sky. Its website lists four other vessels including the Spirit of the Pacific, a 23-metre topsail schooner.

Howarth West told Latte: “Caledonian Sky has been a runaway success.” She added the ship had received “outstanding feedback”.

“The vision for Caledonian Sky was to bring luxury cruising to the outer islands. Our passenger loads have been building and capacity has steadily grown.”

Earlier this year, itineraries included seven-night Northern Lau and Southern Lau itineraries plus 14-night voyages through the Lau to Tonga and Samoa. There were plans to follow the Tonga humpback whale migration.

The three-night Mamanuca & Southern Yasawa Island sailings offered a streamlined, yet authentic taste of Fiji.

Guests were able to experience the cruise line’s private island Tivua and its 2000 hectares of coral reef, bath in mud pools, swim in the limestone caves of Sawa-i-lau and experience a traditional Fijian feast and festivities in the village of Gunu. 

Highlights of Northern Lau included the extraordinary history of Makogai Island, which once housed a leper colony, the scenery and wildlife of the isolated volcanic island of Vatu Vara and the marine oasis of Wailagilala. 

Southern Lau is home to living and breathing tradition and beauty of Fulaga Island, heart-stopping shark diving in Beqa Island and the striking red prawns of Vatulele, considered sacred by locals. 

Too book on the last voyages, go here