We offer amazing cruise experiences in Fiji's Islands. With more than 60 years experience cruising the Yasawa Islands, we've figured out the winning formula for taking guests to the most beautiful places in Fiji, showcasing the most rewarding activities and giving our guests the best possible experience in the untouched South Pacific!
The history of Blue Lagoon tells the story of a love affair with the islands of Fiji – and of a man who dared to dream about creating one of the most enchanting cruise experiences in the world.
Captain Trevor Withers, a young New Zealand stockbroker with a passion for the sea, founded Blue Lagoon Cruises in 1950. Withers and his friend, Harold Gatty, a renowned Australian aviator, came to Fiji at a time when tourism to the pacific nation was virtually unknown. Visitors to Fiji, for the most part, were in transit at Nadi Airport or were shipboard passengers enroute between North America and New Zealand or Australia.
Withers and Gatty had a vision to establish a fishing industry in Fiji. To start the venture, the duo visited the islands to pay respects to the Chiefs. It was at the magnificent Yasawa Island, Waya Lailai, where they enlisted the help of a young villager, Epeli Voli, as an interpreter. With Epeli’s help, Captain Withers obtained the full support of the Yasawa people for his fishing venture and established firm friendships with the chiefs and the people of the Yasawa Islands.
After four years of effort, Withers and Gatty concluded that their hopes of establishing a tuna fishing industry in Fiji were not viable. But, both men had fallen in love with Fiji and wished to remain in the islands. Gatty went on to establish Fiji Airways, the forerunner to Fiji's national airline, Air Pacific (now once again called Fiji Airways). However, the future for Withers was not so clear. He still had his mind on the sea and began to dream of taking visitors on a cruise through the idyllic Yasawa Islands: a dream that was to become Blue Lagoon Cruises.
Withers’ enthusiasm for this new cruise project was not shared by many. Critics asked logically, "Where are the tourists?" Still, determined to make his dream a reality, Withers returned to the Yasawa Islands to solicit the support of the Chiefs and people. To his delight, and no-doubt due to his previously formed friendships, the cruise proposal was met with enthusiastic promises of co-operation.
While pondering over a suitable name for the venture, Withers remembered his association with the original movie version of 'Blue Lagoon', filmed on location in the Yasawa Islands in 1948. He had lent a hand on the set, where he had met and liked the attractive English star, Jean Simmons and the name ‘Blue Lagoon’, therefore, seemed totally appropriate for the idyllic cruise he envisaged.
Withers purchased his first boat from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authorities in Fiji. The vessel was christened Turaga Levu ('Great Chief' which was Withers' local nick-name). Amidst much merriment, she was launched down the slipway into Suva’s Walu Bay.
The first cruise date was then scheduled and advertised – with a complete lack of response. As the hour of the inaugural departure drew near, it appeared that if the Turaga Levu was to sail at all, it would sail empty. Withers, though tempted to cancel, was reluctant to disappoint the islanders anxiously awaiting its arrival, so invited six Fijian men on the wharf who had previously assisted him to become the Turaga Levu’s first cruise passengers.
For the first month, Withers set sail every Monday, often carrying Fijians to their Yasawa villages but without a single paying passenger. Finances began to run low and it was 10 days into his second month before Withers secured his first charter, an American Colonel and his wife who had made it quite clear that they expected the perfect holiday. Unfortunately (and quite comically) this didn’t prove to be the case. Withers had earlier conducted a painstaking inspection of the Turaga Levu to see that everything was shipshape: the only place, which required improvement, was the ship’s toilet, where the seat would benefit from a new coat of paint.
At the appointed time, the Turaga Levu set sail and soon the Colonel and his wife were relaxing in fishing chairs trolling for tuna. Later that morning, the calm of the cruise was shattered by a pained bellow from below. It transpired that the Colonel was firmly joined to the toilet seat, still sticky from the fresh coat of paint. Some delicate and painful maneuvering luckily parted man and seat, but the damage to his nether regions was such that the Turaga Levu was obliged to head back to shore in search of a doctor. On his return, drinks and lunch restored the Colonel’s humour and, after overnight treatment, he decided to continue the cruise.
During the following three months, only 27 passengers were carried on the cruise. Bankruptcy was imminent and Withers was forced to make a final desperate gamble. After securing agreement with the airlines flying the Pacific to undertake a joint promotion in North America, he sold all his wordly possessions for £7,000 to finance a whirlwind visit to travel agents in the USA and Canada. The gamble paid off. The trickle of visitors rapidly became a steady stream and Blue Lagoon Cruises was underway.
By 1966, Blue Lagoon Cruises had established an international reputation and Withers, now suffering from poor health, was ready to retire to his beloved Waya Island. After much deliberation, he sold the venture to Captain Claude Millar, a well-known New Zealand ship owner, so completing the first chapter of the Blue Lagoon Cruise history.
This briefly is the story of Blue Lagoon Cruises. A simple story of a dream that became a reality and a reality that fulfilled a dream.
Blue Lagoon Cruises is managed by the successful South Sea Cruises.
As a result, Blue Lagoon Cruises has undergone a series of changes and improvements, to bring the cruise itineraries up to a whole new level of experience for visitors to Fiji’s wonderful islands.
Blue Lagoon Cruises still retain their important link and special relationship with the Yasawa village locals. The company supports the Yasawa Islands community through association with the Vinaka Fiji Volunteer Progammes, run by the Yasawa Trust Foundation. Blue Lagoon Cruises also remains an important factor in the Yasawa Islands' economy, providing the opportunity for the people of the islands to earn revenue through the company's payments to access beaches and visit villages, for performances of traditional Fijian entertainment and for the sale of village market crafts to guests. Further assistance in times of need also made freely.