Passion and desire

Iliesa Naivalu relaxes inside the inter-island ferry, the Ra Marama after a hard day’s work. Picture: SITERI SAUVAKACOLO

ILIESA Naivalu had just finished his secondary school education at Lautoka-based Natabua High School when he joined Captain Cook Cruises.

Fear crept slowly inside him as he wondered how he was going to work in an environment where meeting tourists from around the world was going to be a daily activity.

Coming from a staunch Christian background, he took heed of his parents’ firm advice to focus on what was right, be a good listener and to work hard.

More than two decades later and the gentleman from Yalobi, Waya in Yasawa is proud to share his journey to help inspire young Fijians who may be thinking of making a career in the tourism industry.

Naivalu works as a public relations officer for day trippers to Tivua Island, near Yasawa, which is home to Captain Cook Cruises.

His daily work revolves around guests and ensuring they enjoy their day-cruise and trip to the island.

As guests board the inter-island ferry, the Ra Marama, he is the first person to welcome them abroad and explain their day’s program.

He also ensures that guests feel at home on the one-hour travel to the island. It’s an interesting career given the fact that he started out as an ordinary seaman and a deckhand.

“I resigned in 2001 and rejoined the company in 2004 because I felt that Captain Cook Cruises played a big role in my life,” Naivalu said.

“I enjoy what I am dong as a public relations officer (PRO) on board especially ensuring day trippers enjoy every moment they spend with us.

“I have learnt so many things every day by meeting different people and it has strengthened my work ability.”

Naivalu is also doing his boat master class 5.

He dreams of working on big ships that travel abroad.

His work, though, is quite challenging because he meets people from different walks of life and sometimes he has had to deal with different personalities but he adds it’s their Fijian bula smile that diffuses any situation and visitors enjoy their trip at the end of the day.

When he first started, language barrier was always a major problem so he did a six-month course at the University of the South Pacific and today he has better understanding of eight different languages.

Amid all the challenges, Naivalu said this work had allowed him to learn to be patient and persevere.

Apart from his work as a PRO, he has also worked on the Captain Cook Cruises big ship — Reef Endeavour as a deck watch which gave him the opportunity to learn and improve his sea time and tonnage.

The Yasawa native said working in the tourism industry should always come with a passion and desire.

“You have to enjoy what you do, you have to be patient when dealing with guests as the expectation is always high so you have to adjust yourself to their situation and always focus on your goal,” he said.

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