Fiji has just had a visit from the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Prince Albert II, and his wife Princess Charlene.
They flew in to cruise our islands in a superyacht, underscoring the growth of Fiji as a superyacht cruising destination – and boosting Fiji’s superyacht profile.
The Prince and Princess were married in a beautiful ceremony in the millionaire mecca Mediterranean principality of Monaco in July. The happy couple came to New Zealand to see the Rugby World Cup and took the time to visit Fiji for a superyacht cruise.
They were offered the use of one owned by a friend from Monaco. This was moored at Nadi’s Port Denarau Marina, the centre of the growing local superyacht business.
The royal couple arrived at Nadi International Airport on the Prince’s private jet and immediately went to board the superyacht. Their home for the stay in Fiji was the $60 million Exuma, an Italian-designed and built vessel.
It arrived from Europe via Tahiti and Tonga on September 5. The yacht has visited Fiji previously and the owner is a lover of the country, the people and the lifestyle.
Exuma is equipped with two large doors in the bow which open to give water level access to the equipment deck where all of the equipment for recreational activities are stored. There is a hovercraft, an amphibious car, fishing tenders and gear, diving gear, and a range of other items to help everyone enjoy the destination.
While here the Royal couple did a lot of diving and snorkeling in the beautiful waters of the Yasawas and Mamanucas and spent a lot of time on the different islands they visited.
Their trip included Malolo, Navadra, Soso Village on Naviti, Blue Lagoon for an afternoon, Sawa-i-Lau, to visit the Chandelier Caves and Nabukeru Village. They had lunch and a delightful barbecue dinner at the Yasawa Island Lodge.
Here they also brought the amphibious car ashore and drove around the island, much to the delight of the locals.
They went to Vomo on the last night for a farewell dinner, returning next morning to Port Denarau Marina, a short drive to the airport and flying out to Auckland. While they covered a lot of different experiences the trip was relaxed and unrushed.
On Naviti, the village presented a beautiful sevusevu and a very exciting meke performed by the younger people in the village. At Nabukeru they played touch rugby with the children from the village, an experience they thoroughly enjoyed. There is no report of who won the match.
Overall the visit was successful and the travel and experiences very memorable.
Fiji is growing in importance as a superyacht destination. Since the Superyacht Decree of 2010, the number of such yachts visiting and chartering out of Port Denarau Marina has dramatically increased.
The marina provides world class facilities for this type of vessel and the safety, friendliness, the unspoilt environment and the welcoming people are all added attractions that are putting Fiji on the superyacht map.
David Jameson, of Yacht Help Fiji, the company that handles most of the superyacht business in Fiji, has spent a great deal of time and money developing this segment of the tourism market,
Each year he attends the Monaco Superyacht Show and promotes the destination and this year he was overwhelmed by the response.
As well as the Fiji country and people he sees the Charter Decree as a very important boost to the volume of arrivals. Fiji is starting to get a significant amount of superyacht business when compared to the Caribbean, the traditional European winter cruising area.
Mr Jamieson believes that the visit by the royal couple, well known in the superyacht fraternity, will help the development of this sector greatly.
And the superyacht industry is a significant contributor to the foreign earnings from Fiji Tourism.
Prince Albert is the son of the late Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.
Monaco is renowned as the home port of some of the most magnificent private yachts in the world. The Prince is the president of the Monaco Yacht Club and a keen yachtsman.