But we received a great offer through our university's affinity travel program to try an Oceania Cruise back in French Polynesia, on the Marina.
We can't say enough about the cruise line, and the ship. The ship itself, the itinerary (we got to two new islands this time: Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas and Rangiroa in the Tuamoto Archipelago), the snorkeling excursions(amazing!), food (fantastic and healthy), and the service (99% excellent). Took two excellent cooking classes in the onboard Culinary Center, and enjoyed trying watercolors in the Artist's Loft. By far, the best cruise we've ever experienced, and a great way to see French Polynesia, which is incredibly expensive.
Special kudos to Oceania for practicing and stressing to the rest of us exceptionally thoughtful health and safety measures. From the pre-cruise emergency drill in which passengers were asked to refrain from conversation (and take it seriously) to having gloved staff serve food at buffet areas to urging frequent hand washing to providing free bottled water for hydration - Oceania exceeded our expectations and provided an exceptionally safe, clean cruising experience.
We also loved having coffee services such as espresso and lattes provided at no extra charge.
Marina also has laundry facilities on every floor, so catching up on laundry was a breeze.
It's true what you've probably read about onshore excursion booked through the ship being expensive. They are. But our pre-cruise lives didn't allow time to explore independent options, and indeed, we had a couple of excursions impossible to book any other way. Folks wanting to go on the cheap in remote locations - like Rangiroa - were SOL when the cruise pre-booked all the available vendors. This atoll is a world-class diving destination; why miss a possible once-in-a-lifetime chance to get offshore?
I will say that as first-time Oceania cruisers, we found the terms/packaging of excursions confusing and somewhat misleading. And the women serving at the Destination (excursions) Service Desk were not only not helpful, they were downright rude. We consider this a singular lapse in Oceania management oversight and will address this issue in a letter to Oceania.
In short, a highly-recommended cruise line, ship and itinerary. Some passengers had boarded Marina in Sydney and were continuing on from French Polynesia to Peru, NYC and England. Wish I could've kept going too!