Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Tahitian Princess
Sailing Date: December 1st, 2005
I should first start out by saying that I am not a big fan of cruises, until, that is, I sailed on the Tahitian Princess. I had always wanted to see Tahiti and this was the best way for me to see several islands in the South Pacific. It was truly the most wonderful vacation I have had in a long time!
We arrived at night from LAX where a bus took us from the airport to the ship. It was probably 90 degrees and we were all exhausted from traveling all day but after checking in and walking up the gangway to board, they actually had the ship's photographer take a picture of you as you first board the ship. We were hot, sweaty, tired and really in no mood to take a picture, but they sort of corner you like a laboratory rat and snap one of you before you head to your room. There were many pictures taken during the 10 day cruise but this is not one I was even remotely interested in buying. I wonder how many people actually did?
Our inside cabin was small but not cramped. Jeffrey, from the Phillipines, was our stateroom steward. He kept our room neat and tidy and was never in the way or overly pushy. In hindsight I should have brought a change of clothes and toiletries with me in my carryon bag. Feeling totally icky we all wanted to shower and change but that was out of the question as our luggage did not arrive until about two hours after we boarded. So we headed up to the buffet. The fruit was amazing! There is a Tahitian pineapple that is much sweeter than the Hawaiian or Californian and it was the best pineapple I ever had. I had fruit everyday it was so good.
The food as a whole was excellent! I heard some people complaining about how ordinary the breakfast and lunch choices were. I don't really see any cause for complaint. Breakfast was the usual fare that you would find anywhere. I don't know what the chefs did to their tomato sauce but I just couldn't get enough of it. The first time I had it was doing lunch and there was eggplant lasagna. Ever since that day whenever they had anything with tomato sauce during lunch or dinner I got it. I even passed up lobster tails just so I could have spinach and cheese ravioli, covered in sauce. Yummy!
Our waiters during dinner were Warlito from the Phillipines and Florin from Romania. These two men worked very hard for us and were very efficient. We had first sitting and they didn't make us feel rushed or hurried as they had another group of people to serve after us. The dinners were excellent and there were many items to choose from each night, including a vegetarian and low fat menu. Some people have complained about the fish. I had it once and it was fine for me. It was cooked the way I liked it and very tasty. A seasonal fruit plate was offered everyday (which I took full advantage of) and their dessert menu was just as varied as the dinner menu. Most of the time I stuck with the sorbet which tasted homemade. One night the specialty was tiramisu and baked alaska. But they also had cheesecake and 'build your own sundae' and assorted cheese and crackers.
It has recently been made known that people have been getting sick during their cruises. Tahitian Princess, and I'm sure by now all other cruise lines, have implemented the use of hand sanitizer. And boy, was it everywhere!!
Going into the Panorama buffet each morning for breakfast and lunch there were bottles of it everywhere. There is a person who stands next to the plates and silverware holding a bottle, ready to squirt some into your hand. There is hand sanitizer in the gym, there hand sanitizer in the bathrooms, there is hand sanitizer in the bars and restaurants, in the spa, on the deck, and the lounges. The only place I didn't see it, where I think they should definitely put it, is in the internet cafe. I'm sure a lot of unclean hands use those keyboards everyday.
The entertainment was just amazing! People make fun of cruise shows as being hokey but these shows that I saw were hardly hokey and unprofessional. A singer from Britain, Darren Lynton had an amazing voice and did songs by Bobby Darin and Tom Jones. The Production shows, with lead singers, Simon Roborgh and Sophie Patterson were truly amazing. Maybe I say this because I have been a performer myself. But these singers performed in four different shows, "C'est Magnifique", "Ports of Call", "Gotta sing, Gotta dance" and "Century Sings".
Along with the Tahitian Princess dancers, this group worked hard to entertain us. The singers had to memorize many, many songs, sometimes in French and Italian and the dancers had very difficult choreography, especially since the stage was not very big. One show almost did not go on, as a female dancer became ill. Since they were already down one female dancer the cruise director told us that the show almost got canceled. But the group rallied and came together and put on a very good show. So there were Simon and Sophie and dancers Josh, Luke, Ryan and the only female dancer left, Phillipa. I knew that the dancers were stressed but it was not obvious, as their professionalism came shining through and put on one of the best shows I had seen. Each of their shows they did twice, once for the first seating and once again for second. What energy these people have! I envy them!
The track on deck 10 is a small one: 13 times around is a mile and it's best to walk or jog before 6:30am. The sun is brutal, as we are close to the equator and the tropic of capricorn. Wear your sunscreen, even when you snorkel. Put it on your back and face. I didn't burn but I saw many many people who did.
I didn't try the spa so I can't comment on the services provided there. They seemed to push the spa though. Every time we came to our room there was some sort of flyer or coupon advertising the spa services. The gym was very fully equipped. One half dedicated to workout equipment, the other to exercise. Some of the classes are free, some you have to pay for, which I didn't understand but I did take a Pilates class with Luke from Australia and it was very relaxing.
Tahiti is a beautiful place, but it is not paradise. There is natural beauty everywhere and there is poverty, by our standards that is. I got the feeling that the islanders were doing just fine, even if they didn't have much in the way of material things. I didn't see anyone malnourished but I did see houses that resembled the shanty shacks of Brazil or Africa. The people were friendly and used to tourists. Whenever we were in "Le truck" as we passed by people on the road would wave to us and we would wave back. Men working on construction would stop and wave and women selling fruit would wave. Children would wave at us walking along the road. There don't really seem to be a lot of sidewalks. Most people are aware of others walking. The only time I heard any horns honking was on our last day in Papeete. There were two wedding parties during the day that passed by and they blew their horns in celebration but that was it. I didn't hear any car horns the entire time.
My excursions included most highlight tours. I went to the house on Papeete where the author of Mutiny on the bounty lived. I took a nature hike on the Cook Islands in the conservation park. Take insect repellent. The mosquitos are awful. I took a tour with an anthropologist on Huahine. He lectured on Tahitian culture, history, religion, art, etc. On Moorea I went to a cultural villge and saw some excellent dancing.
On Raiatea during the early evening the children of Raiatea came on board to perform. The two youngest being 3 were of course cute. And the teenage girls were very skilled and professional. Later on that night there was a smaller adult group that had two male and three female? dancers. I say this because I think one of the dancers may not have been born female. One of my tour guides mentioned that Tahiti has a lot of transvestites and this is just part of their culture.
On one tour I visited a family-owned pearl farm, where a lady explained to us how pearls are made and matured. There are pearls everywhere, in all shapes, colors and sizes. There are also some on the ship so your choices are unlimited.
I think the downside to the cruise was the last day when we had to check out at 10am and had access to everything on the ship except our staterooms. Our flight didn't leave until 10pm so it was a very long day just waiting around and trying not to look at the clock. Our number was called at about 6:30pm to board the bus to take up back to the airport. In reality we weren't in line more than an hour so I didn't have too much to complain about that. Some of the older passengers were not too keen about it and I could understand. There were not enough customs agents working that night, so that did slow us down some but I did hate to come home. I could have sailed another week on the Tahitian Princess.
I would like to take this cruise again in the near future and I would recommend this to anyone who would love to see French Polynesia!