We are not cruisers with the only one that we had done before was over 20 years ago. But we love the South Pacific and had been to FP 5 times before. For this trip we had wanted to see some of the smaller islands that we had not visited and PG appeared to be the best way to do it.
We chose the 10 day cruise that included the Tuamotus. This cruise could change our minds about cruising. We enjoyed every minute of it. We were lucky that we were on one of the Jean-Michel Cousteau cruises. He was an interesting and engaging gentleman. Our main emphasis was snorkeling so most of our excursion centered on it.
We booked air through PG and left the day of the cruise. Check in at the airport was easy. One thing I wished I had known was that with the construction there is little to no food once you get pass security. Since we had arrived 4 hours early, that meant I had to go through security twice since I got hungry. The flight was better than I expected even though it was coach. We had seats 19 A & B and it felt like there was more leg room than I am use to. We arrived, went through customs and then off to the buses. Check in was fast. My main concern with arriving so late was that dinner would be over. I didn't need to worry. There was a light buffet set up so no going to bed hungry. We didn't have any problem with jet lag except of being tired when we got there.
We had room 431 which I would recommend. It was quiet and centrally located. It was funny but the discussion on board was the same as on the boards "is it important to have a veranda?" To us it wasn't. We like spending time up on the fantail. There were a couple families with children but I rarely saw them. Better storage than I would have thought. If fact we didn't even use it all. Great tip I picked up from the board about putting my suitcases under the bed. As recommended on the board I picked up a power strip before I left. It was a life saver for us. Between cameras, Ipads and hair things, there is no way we could have survived. One funny item... It took my husband a couple of days before he understood how to turn off the shower. It isn't straight forward.
Breakfast is there weak point. We tried all three places. We alternated between La Palette (where we started out every morning)and La Veranda. Hint: Don't forget to order off the menu in La Veranda for breakfast.
We normally did lunch in La Veranda except when we got back too late. Then we ate at Le Grill. I enjoyed the lunches for the most part. I think they do soups extremely well so I would start me lunch with the cold soup and then move on to the hot one. The desserts were good but not the best I have ever had.
We ate at all three restaurants and enjoyed all three. My husband loved the food in La Veranda but I prefer the others. We both loved eating at La Grill for the setting. Reservations were hard to get so planning was needed. When ever we ate at L'Etoile we opted for the group tables. We met so many nice people that way.
Tea was always fun. There was always something special going on. Even though we didn't think we needed it, we somehow found our way there.
Service was good except for one thing. They kept taking away my bread plate before I was finished with it. Not just once but at almost ALL meals. It was particularly bad at breakfast. I have no idea what they had against me eating the bread (which was sooo yummy). You would think they would ask if you were done with it before removing it like they do the plates.
In other reviews and on the board people talk about how some of the staff always call you be name etc. That wasn't our experience but we did notice it was other peoples. I don't know what the difference is. Maybe we are not as memorable but I think it was because we didn't eat and drink at the same place all the time. It didn't really matter to us either.
We loved asking for the drink of the day. We never knew just what we were going to get so it was always an adventure. I did fall in love with their Mai Tais. Best I have ever had.
The piano bar was a fun place to get together before dinner. Of course there was food again. Some nights the food was better than others.
Excursions - Hint: Don't listen to your travel agent when they tell you that there isn't a problem waiting till you get to the ship to book your tours. The ones that only book a small number where full before people arrived. I was glad I was anal enough to book most of them before hand.
Huahine - We did the snorkeling offered through the ship. It was okay snorkeling but the highlight was the trip hostess talking about her life on the island and how life has been changing for the young. She was so funny.
Bora Bora - I had reserved Reef Discovery with Christopher. The weather was bad but we still had a great time. What really impressed me was how Christopher worked with an older lady who did not know how to snorkel nor was a strong swimmer. When I was trying to book tours directly before I left home, I got very frustrated trying to deal with them. Reef Discovery was the most professional to deal with. The motu got cancelled due to high winds so we just went into town the second day.
Rangiroa - Booked the snorkel trip through the ship. Snorkeling was good and easy. Appropriate for the less experienced snorkeler. I thought the boat was a little crowded.
Fakarava - Booked the pinnacle snorkeling trip through the ship. The snorkeling was amazing BUT find someone else to do it with. The trip was extremely short and hurried. Not fun, not worth the money. Find someone else.
Taha'a - Just went to the motu. Our favorite thing for the whole cruise. I think I would do the cruise again just to do this. There are vendors there. I bought some thing but I wish I had bought all I needed since their items were nicer. My favorite drink was Midori Colada
Moorea - Catajet tour - this was a fun thing to do. We had a great guide. It is a very small group. The first stop was all about sharks and stingrays. It was so shallow that you do use your fins. Great spot. Of course every other snorkeling group stopped there also. The second place was okay but not great. The second day we did a day at the beach @ the Intercontinental. It was a good relaxing day. Lunch portions were huge. To bad you can't get two appetizers.
Our cruise was sold out but it never felt crowded.
I have no idea why they wasted space on a casino. It is soo tiny.
If Mark Eddowes is giving a lecture, do try and go. Very interesting guy. Different, but interesting. Meagan was very good at taking a dry subject and making it interesting. Don't shy away from her lectures.
The block part was great fun. I don't know why they waited until the 4th night. Lots of people didn't participate so everyone on our deck came to our block. Had a great time.
Our day room was at the Radisson. Don't do it. Upgrade! It felt like a place that was running out of money. Lots of lights were not turned on. Maintenance was needed in our room since things were falling apart. We had a light snack in the bar and paid for it in fp francs. We had to ask three times before we could get our change. The change was actually more than the meal so it couldn't have been a misunderstanding. Leaving felt very unorganized. One funny moment was when we were heading towards the airport on the bus. During one of the round-abouts the driver headed back towards the hotel. When questioned about it, the driver said the bus has broken and we had to go back. You have a bus load of tired people starting to revolt. All of a sudden the driver said the bus was fixed went headed back to the airport.
It seemed like everyone was getting patted down at the airport. Once past security there is a lovely outdoor area to sit facing. You think there is glass there but it is all open.