Number of Cruises: 10
Cruise Line: Princess
Ship: Tahitian Princess
Sailing Date: May 27th, 2004
Itinerary: Tahiti-French Polynesia
Air Tahiti Nui: It is an eight-hour flight from LAX to Tahiti and they show movies continuously. We watched four movies. Eight hours on a crowded plane is less than desirable; however, the service was very good and the staff made sure to always feed us and gave us plenty to drink. You may have any drinks of your choice (including alcoholic drinks). Except for the fact the seats were so cramped, the staff did the best they could under the circumstances.
Embarkment: We arrived around 6:20 PM Tahiti time and was out of the airport in about an hour. Getting on the ship was extremely easy as there were no lines. We were in our cabins and were eating in the main dining room by 8:30. The charter arriving after 10 o’clock were not able to eat in the dining room, but were able to eat at the buffet upstairs.
Cabins: Our cabin was extremely spacious and had plenty of room for everything. The bathroom was the standard size bathroom of most cruise ships. Our cabin steward was extremely attentive as she had everything we requested immediately. We had poolside towels in our room twice a day, which was an added touch, as we needed two sets of towels for each island. We rarely had to ask for anything. Excellent job!
Service: Service was impeccable. The entire staff bent over backward to make sure we had everything we desired and we never had a wait on anything. Every staff member was extremely helpful and friendly. We have not been on a cruise where at least one person did not seem happy, but the staff on this ship appeared to very much like their jobs. Outstanding service.
Food: The presentation of the food, both in the dining room and buffet was excellent. The soups during dinner were excellent, even to our New Orleans’ standards. The prime rib was prepared very well. We did not taste any other meats besides the prime rib, so cannot comment on the other meats. All the fish was prepared correctly and found very few dishes not up to our standards. Overall the food was well presented and seasoned better than most cruise ship food. The morning buffet had a large selection and the food was presented very nicely. The lunch in the dining room was excellent and always had a different menu every day. Overall, the food was very good and surpassed our expectations.
Entertainment: We will separate this into two categories: first the production shows, comedian and entertainers and secondly, the local talent. The production shows lacked entertainment value because of the size of the shows and size of the show room. Because this is a smaller ship, you will not get the large production shows that most cruise ships show. In addition, the comedian was extremely dry and the magician was funny, but lacking in his show as well. In addition, the banjo player was a banjo player. This cruise was definitely lacking in ship-produced entertainment. However, I enjoyed the local talent from the various islands that came on board to entertain. The productions included both night shows as well as afternoon shows. The talent and the culture was a very pleasant change from the standard cruise ship entertainment. It was an added touch while touring the various islands.
Activities: My husband likes days at sea and I do not; however, I have to say the two days on sea during this trip was very fun. Activities during the day were a cooking demonstration, vegetable carving, drink tasting (trivia), horseracing, ceramics at sea, bingo, blackjack tournament, etc. In addition, after lunch, the cruise director directed a pool volleyball game between the passengers and the cruise staff. It was very festive and a fun time by all. You need to get your chair by the pool before 9 o’clock as some people complained they did not have a chair. I never had a problem both days, but I am an early bird. Nighttime activities included a lip sync show, 50’s dance, disco nights (70’s, 80’s). The karaoke was done very poorly. They only offered it two nights for less than 45 minutes and the machine was faced in the back so everyone sang with their back to their audience. Very poorly done by both the staff and by design. Disappointed in the karaoke as it could have been done so much better and can be a very fun activity.
Cleanliness: The ship was very clean and all areas were picked up every two hours. The crew took every effort to make sure the ship was clean and it was very evident on the cruise. All rooms were pleasant and clean.
Mix of Passengers: Our cruise consisted of fewer than 30 kids (last cruise had zero); about a hand full of college students (well behaved) and about twenty honeymoon couples. The majority of the passengers were from the United States and the rest were from Latin American counties, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Majority of the passengers were baby boomers and that is what made this cruise so much fun. We meet many people on the cruise and really got to know our fellow passengers. We believe cruising is about seeing new places and meeting new people. This really is the fun of cruising. We meet many new friends from all over the world. Wonderful group of passengers.
What to wear: Bring plenty of bathing suits—you are in the South Pacific. I brought eight and probably could have used two more! Evenings are mostly casual dress—sundresses for ladies and shirt and slacks for men. They have two formal nights and both nights the passengers dressed in either Tux or Black suits and women wore long dresses both nights. The rest of the nights are relaxed. Bring plenty of suntan lotion and hats. The sun was very bright and powerful. I even got sunburned at 4 in the afternoon.
Ports of Call:
Tahiti: My husband and I opted for the 4X4 jeep tour through Princess to see the interior of Tahiti. Excellent tour as one cannot rent a car and see what the tour showed us. There were many beautiful waterfalls and we were able to swim in a large waterfall. Very beautiful and an enjoyable tour. Recommend to individuals that like outdoor scenery.
After our tour, we proceeded to go to the town, which is very French. To buy a beer and a soda, it will run you about $10.00. I recommend you eat your meals on the ship, as food is not cheap. We picked up a beautiful bouquet for the room for about $10.00—just beautiful. Other than their flower arrangements, I did not see any good deals. Everything is very expensive in Tahiti; however, it was fun to go around the town and market place. At the end of the cruise, you get to spend another night in Tahiti before leaving the next day. We strolled around to the local bars, which were busy (Saturday night), but decided not to go in the bars, as they were very local. The men in the bars in Tahiti are very vocal in their thoughts. I felt very uncomfortable walking around the bar areas even though I was escorted by my husband.
Huahine: (Tender) One of my favorites. The island is extremely primitive and I thought it was very beautiful. However, some may find the island too primitive. We spent the morning taking the shuttle to Fare (extremely small town) and walked along the beach. The scenery was just breath taking. It cost 3-4 dollar each person each way and was a very convenience way to get to the town. In the afternoon, we did the Motu picnic, which was nice, but not worth the money. It is $99.00 per person and we were only given one beer. I heard the morning tour got more to drink, but were only offered beer the last 45 minutes of the four hour tour. I would not recommend this tour to others. Huahine is a small island but very lush.
Roratonga: Cook Islands (Tender) This island was the cheapest as the U.S. dollar is worth more compared to the New Zealand dollar. At the pier, they had gentlemen there to exchange your money for no additional cost. We did not do a tour on this island, but took the shuttle for 3-4 dollars to Muri Lagoon. I suggest you check the tides, as the tides can affect the beach. The lagoon was just beautiful and extremely relaxing. Snorkeling was not good, but there was some fish. We saw a blue starfish. The Muri Lagoon tour was right next to us on the beach and appeared not to be a good value as you could walk to the motu from the beach. I would save your money on that tour and take the bus instead. You see the same thing and it will save you $100.00. After Muri Lagoon we opted to take the shuttle back. The shuttle will drop you off in the shopping area but it is about a 15-minute walk back to the ship. They will tell you five, but it was closer to 15-20 minutes. The town had shops, but it has the standard merchandise all the islands have. However, their prices were more reasonable on this island. Good place to buy the souvenirs. Roratonga was also a good place to rent either a scooter or a car as the scooters ran about 20.00 and the cars from 50-60. Everyone who rented the cars seemed to enjoy the ride around the island. Cars are limited, so you may want to reserve ahead. Some had to get a New Zealand license, some did not. Probably depends on the rental company. Roratonga was also a beautiful island.
Raitia/Tahaa: (Pier) We took the morning snorkeling drift off of Tahaa. Incredible. Just unbelievelable postcard beauty. The tour is for advanced snorkelers, but my husband did just fine (somewhat of a beginner). You need to bring your own flippers, snorkel and mask. Well worth the money and did get to see some nice coral and fish. The drop is not super plentiful, but there was a variety of fish. We got some excellent underwater pictures. The ride itself is worth the trip, as it is just spectacular. Tahaa is very beautiful and more primitive than Raitia. Highly recommend this tour if you like to snorkel. After the tour, ate on the boat and hung around the pier area. The pier area is very nice and since we were tired from the snorkeling, we choose just to relax. Again for a beer and coke, it ran about $10.00. Also they had some beautiful flowers around the pier area for about 5.00. Bought one for the deck party that evening. At 2-3 o’clock they had a Polynesian show on the ship produced by the locals and it was very entertaining. Bring cameras and video cameras, as we got some excellent shots of the show. The evening included a deck party with more entertainment and the champagne tower, which was fantastic.
Bora Bora: (Tender): The morning of Bora Bora you leave from Raitia and take a scenic ride to Bora Bora. I found it nice, but probably not necessary, as we could have arrive in the morning and would not have felt like I missed much, but some people prefer cruising and so it was a nice touch. Sat around the pool area until noon. We were able to tender at noon. Bora Bora was extremely exotic. I found the island to be very exotic and beautiful. Since we had a noon arrival, we decided to tour the island for the first day. We took the shuttle for 4.00 to Maitria Beach. One of the highlights of the cruise was taking the Jet Ski tour (offered on the beach) for 2.5-hour ride around the entire island. It was just fantastic as it was just we and one other nice couple from Las Angeles. It was truly a wonderful trip and the host was outstanding. It cost 140.00 per couple, which was well worth every dime. The guide gave us a show that was wonderful and we were able to see the entire island by Jet Ski, fantastic! The locals on the beach were very French and not as friendly as expected. Bora Bora hotels are difficult to get to, but some were able to get in the hotels by walking from the beach and not from the road. After our tour, we went to Bloody Mary’s bar, which was fun, but expensive drinks. A bloody mary runs you about $6.00----they were tasty however. Nice about this port, you do not have to rush back to the boat as you stay two days in Bora Bora. The next day we took the snorkeling tour and were very disappointed. The currents were very strong. We did see stingrays and sharks, but the snorkeling was too rough. After the tour, we opted to go back to Matiria Beach and relax. Bora Bora was incredible. Worth the trip for Bora Bora alone.
EXTRA BONUS WHILE ON BORA BORA: Not only was in rumored that both Sean Connery and Marlo Brando were on the island, but there was an “Acapulco diver” that decided to dive from the 10th deck (floor) of the ship into the water. The passenger was not too badly hurt, but Princess was not very happy. I unfortunately (or fortunately) missed the show since it was in the early morning hours!
Moorea: (Tender): Get the tours off the ship. There is plenty to do on the shore and are about half the price and just as good. You can take both the snorkeling tour and the 4 by 4 tours for 25.00—we took the snorkeling tour. They give you unlimited drinks and unlimited time on the island. It was a very nice and relaxing day and was a nice way to end a beautiful cruise. Most people commented that Moorea was their favorite island, but I would have to say that Bora Bora, Tahaa and Huahine were my favorites, but I am hear to tell you there is not a bad island on this route.
Tahiti: (Pier): Back in Tahiti at 8:00—we ate and then went into town since it was a Saturday night. Lots of action happening but looked too local for me. Many of the young passengers went to the local bars and said they had a great time. Sunday, the entire town was shut down. Not much shopping to be had on Sunday in Tahiti.
Overall, this was a fantastic cruise and had a wonderful time. If you plan on shopping (other than the black pearls) you will probably be disappointed, but whether you like the beach or scenery or culture, there is plenty for everybody’s taste. It is warm so bring a hat and suntan lotion; I used it everyday. But most of all, remember cruising is for meeting people and seeing different ports. Come with an open mind that you are going to have fun and enjoy. Meet as many people Air Tahiti Nui: It is an eight-hour flight from LAX to Tahiti and they show movies continuously. We watched four movies. Eight hours on a crowded plane is less than desirable; however, the service was very good and the staff made sure to always feed us and gave us plenty to drink. You may have any drinks of your choice (including alcoholic drinks). Except for the fact the seats were so cramped, the staff did the best they could under the circumstances.