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Robyne M

Age: n/a

Occupation:graphic artist

Number of Cruises: 22

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Tahitian Princess

Sailing Date: October 24th, 2004

Itinerary: Marquesas - French Polynesia


Forewarning – this review has a lot of info about Scuba Diving

This cruise in French Polynesia was beautiful. The ship was pleasant, the other passengers delightful and except for Bora Bora we were the only ship in port. Quite different from the Caribbean where there are usually 5+ ships in every port. The Tahitian people are awesome and it was fun to learn a little Tahitian from these friendly people.

Arrival:
Arrived on Air France at Papeete airport, 5 a.m. On this occasion, immigration forms were not handed out so we had to go get them. There were two lines, one for residents and/or Europeans and the other for the rest of us. Our line did not move while the resident/European line moved rapidly forward until there was no one left. Finally our line began to make progress. Next time I will go to the resident/European line!

Taxi to the Royal Tahitian Hotel $30 usd. This hotel is a bargain for expensive Tahiti at $155.00 a night. The gardens and pool were beautiful and the restaurant is on the water with a black sand beach. Their breads and fruit selection is outstanding.

Everything in Papeete was about double what you would pay in the U.S.

The ferry to Moorea cost $9/per person each way and takes about 30 minutes. The local bus takes you around the island. The bus will stop for if you wave it down. Or, do it the local way – make a small pyramid pile of palm leaves (collected from the ground). This signals the driver you need to be picked up!

Embarkation:
We bought fresh flowers at the market for our cabin. Boarding began 11:30 a.m.

Embarkation was fast and efficient compared to the normal Caribbean cruising vacation. Probably took only 5 minutes.

Cabin:
Owner’s Suite 8067 aft.

There was more than enough room for the two of us. The cabin had a living room, separate bedroom and dressing area. Beautiful bathroom with whirpool tub and two separate shower heads (in the tub). Also guest bathroom. The balcony is huge and probably the most private balcony we have ever had on a cruise. I remember having a Royal Suite on Celebrity’s Millenium, and not being able to use the balcony because of the tiered effect and people above us dropped cups and cigarettes onto our deck chairs and balcony.

The free laundry and Internet freebies certainly made it worthwhile for us to have a owner’s suite. Sometimes I put in two bags of laundry a day! We never did arrange for the afternoon canapes or afternoon tea in our cabin.

Food:
I am a vegetarian and thought the food was below average. This is not unusual on a cruise ship, so I wasn’t too surprised. However, the fresh fruits (pineapples, papayas etc) that were available in the Lido were delicious. The salads were below standard. However, their soups and desserts were very good.

My husband is not vegetarian, and one night he had lobster that he could not eat and it was questionable whether it was “off”.

Our Maitre de ,Rosario was fantastic. He would be at the dinners until late at night than we’d see him in the Lido early morning.

Shore Excursions:
Moorea:

We went scuba diving with Bathy’s dive company. They were so disorganized. They didn’t have enough tanks or weights on their crowded boat. In fact, Pef, the skipper/divemaster was taking weights from some of the divers who had already gotten ready for the dive. Pef was very rude and made remarks that Americans don’t know how to dive and don’t use correct weights. He obviously hadn’t dived anywhere else in the world and didn’t know about different tanks. The other divemaster, Remy, was more friendly and helped us set up our gear.

As we found out later, some of the dive companies in French Polynesia use steel tanks. My advice is to drop at least 6 lbs. is using steel tanks. I actually went down to 4 kilos and still felt heavy. If only Pef had taken the time to inform the divers that they use steel tanks and not aluminum.

Their boat broke down several times on the trip to the reef and we experienced the same problems on the way back. [They did not have enough room on the little boat for two tanks per diver so they had to return to the dive shop between dives.]

When we finished our first dive, we found that no one stayed on the boat. It was extra hard to get back on the boat as we had cameras and there was no one to take them from us while we were in the water.

The coral was bleached and not too many fish. We did see a lot of black and yellow tip sharks and butterfly fish in quantity.

Because of the rudeness of Pef, the trouble with the boat breaking down, we aborted our second dive and returned to the ship. My husband lodged a complaint about the problems and we got a partial refund.

Entertainment:

We only went to the magician’s show and were picked to take part in the show! Only because we sat in the front row, never again!

Spa:

There was never a problem getting into any of the spa treatments. There is a small thalosotherapy pool at the back of the spa that you could use for $15/day. Each time I saw this pool, it was empty and business seemed slow for its usage.

Nuku Hiva (Marquesas):

We had arranged our own diving experience here and it was the best. The Dive Company was a delight – what a contrast to Moorea’s dive experience. They bent over backwards to help us and ensure that we had a pleasant experience in their beautiful island waters.

The coral was exquisite in colors of hot pink and coppery golds and the fish frolicked in vertical channels of water coming down the cliff wall. Manta Rays came to us for their photo session and even a shark checked us out. There were lots of sea urchins, and several lionfish. This dive was one of my favorites, ever.

Right on the pier, there are two nice shops where you can buy pareos and woodcarvings from Marquesas. We walked down to the market, but didn’t buy anything there because we met with a lot of confusion with the prices, which were exorbitant. There is a small supermarket just past this market, and a bank (with an ATM)

This is the island that was used to film the TV show “Survivor, Marquesas”. They used three beaches for the filming and one was within walking distance. So an enterprising “survivor” could have run down to the supermarket for some insect repellant or a nice ice cream  Some residents were upset that the TV crew didn’t spend more time (and money) in the village.

Hiva Oa:

The captain couldn’t tender because of the 6’ seas so we went to the Island of Tahuata, to the village of Vai Tahu. We arrived around 10 a.m. and the captain sent out a tender to see if the pier would be safe for us to use. Unfortunately, we couldn’t tender there either. What a shame, the island was so picturesque and everyone was taking photographs from the Tahitian Princess as we sailed away from what would have been a unique experience.

Rangiroa:
This is a beautiful island; and it’s one of the largest coral atolls in the world. After spending two days at sea everyone couldn’t wait to disembark the ship for some adventure. Just about all the shops were closed, as it was a Sunday.

We dove with Six-Passenger Dive Company who were wonderful. Anyone who is apprehensive about getting in and out of a Zodiac, don’t worry. They will “help” you get in the Zodiac. The seas were very rough going out to the dive site with huge swells getting larger as we approached our destination. Once in the water the visibility had to be at least 100 ft. And this is where we frolicked with the turtles for a long time. I ran into a huge school of barracudas and took an underwater video.

After finishing our dive, the Zodiac came to pick us up – by literally hauling everyone on board, where we all landed flat on our stomachs, but so relieved to be “back on board”! This is one place I’d like to revisit for some serious diving.

Raiatea:
Cruising past the islands and atolls was breathtaking and a wonderful opportunity to take more photographs. This is the only island (besides Tahiti) where we were docked.

We arrived at 12 noon. The ship had failed to let the passengers know that the shops would be closed today, as it was Day of the Dead (first two days of November).

This was disappointing, as the ship would be staying there until 4 am the next morning. With everying closed, the majority of the passengers chose to stay on board.

Another beautiful dive with Hemisphere Sub divers.

Bora Bora:
Huge shark feeding dive. We saw lemon sharks (9’) and black tip sharks (6‘). The spot where we were perched to watch the feeding frenzy was literally awash with moray eels. I felt bad that we were disturbing their living area.

You can very easily book diving/snorkeling trips on the dock.

There is a market at the dock where you can purchase anything from pearls to sarongs. A short walk downtown you will find more shops selling jewelry and pareos.

We were fortunate to see a great variety of animals and fish on our dives including:
scorpion fish, lionfish, napoleon fish, clown fish, eels, black tip, white tipped and lemon sharks, manta rays etc.

Disembarkation:
Very easy, as we could stay in our cabin until 10 a.m. You are permitted to stay on the ship until evening if you have a late flight. We actually left the ship around 8:30 a.m. and went downtown to the market to buy some more souvenirs to take home. The market is great – the prices and selection are terrific.

Hotel
Our last night was spent at the Tahiti Beachcomber resort – this was in a paradise setting. Apart from the pools they have a lagoon-aquarium stocked with lots of tropical fish where you can snorkel. We plan on returning to the Beachcomber in the future. It’s fabulous.

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