Our cruise was originally booked for April, 2013, but, due to conflicts, we rescheduled for Jan 27, 2013. I was concerned knowing it was the rainy season.
Fortunately, our weather for the majority of the trip was awesome.
Oceania chartered our flight from LAX, a 747, operated by Atlas Air. The flight was a little late leaving as we waited for passengers arriving at LAX on connecting flights throughout the US and Canada primarily. We received hot towelettes twice during the flight and a good hot meal. There were some vacant seats so there was the ability to stretch out.
Arrival time in Papeete was late in the evening. The ship departed later than the 11:00 p.m. schedule due to late arrivals of some passengers. Embarkation was simple and easy. We were extremely tired from a very long travel day (leaving Toronto at 8:10 a.m. arriving Papeete 9 p.m. (2 a.m. EST). There were no restaurants open on the ship when we finally went in search of a meal.
Ports of Call were changed prior to and during the cruise. Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands was cancelled due to lack of infrastructure.
Moorea was cancelled due to inclement weather.
Excursions - we booked all of them through the cruise line and would not do so again. Many of the same excursions are available at the pier or for booking online ahead of your arrival. I am not sure if you book your excursions outside of the cruise line whether you are reimbursed if you cancel or if the provided cancels. At least excursions cancelled by Oceania are refunded.
Hotels - we also booked them through the cruise line. The ship stayed in Bora Bora overnight and we chose to stay one night in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora at the Pearl Resort. The cost per person included a romantic dinner and breakfast the following morning brought to your bungalow by outrigger canoe. This was very expensive but worth it for the experience. Oceania made all the arrangements for our transportation to and from the resort.
Huahine - Sacred Sites & Cultural Walk - didn't enjoy
Raiatea - Snorkel Safari and Pearl Farm - would recommend
Bora Bora - Romantic Overnight at Pearl Resort - see below
Nuka Hiva - Visit to Taipivai Valley - would recommend
Rangiroa - Snorkel the Aquarium Garden - would recommend but should be longer
Disembarking - you are able to stay in your room until noon and on the ship until 5 p.m. so you have the opportunity to explore Papeete if you didn't stay prior to department.
Our post cruise hotel was the Intercontinental Tahiti. In my opinion, this was way overpriced and, if we ever return, I will book separately and at another hotel. Despite the low season, this hotel was very busy and extremely understaffed. Bar service was slow and wrong drink orders received. The restaurant too was very busy. There was a dinner show and we asked to sit at a table which provided a great view but it was a table for 4 and we were only 2 people so were told no. We were given a table for two off to the side with only a partial view. There were numerous other tables for 4 occupied by only 2 persons. Service again was very slow and dinner was only so so. We had mahi mahi and it was very bland. I found it odd for the expense and caliber of this hotel that they used paper napkins and nickled and dimed you for bottled water. Nothing was complimentary.
The room was nice but, again, it is about service. We had to ask for bath towels. A bathmat never arrived.
We asked for and were given late checkout, 2 p.m. but I believe this was only because I am a Priority Club Member. Otherwise, I think we would have been out of luck. Our flight was not until 10:50 p.m. so we stayed and the resort, used the pool, etc. and the day room available when it was time to get ready to leave.
All in all it was a great trip. This is the second time we have sailed on Marina. Excellent food. No complaints regarding the ship or its staff. We may have finally learned our lesson and will book the majority of excursions on our own (always afraid we might miss the ship).