Originally we were only booked on the September 21 Rurutu "Whale Watching" cruise (that review coming soon) but with a $2000 credit in hand due to problems with our last PG cruise (see my review last year) I decided what could be better than a pre-cruise cruise! Heck, two cruises in French Polynesia back to back; can't beat that. Luckily the cruise before was a 7 day so it all worked out exceedingly well.
I spent a couple of nights in LA and a couple of nights at the Intercontinental Tahiti before the cruise so I was ready to go day one of the cruise unlike 100 people who flew in the night the cruise started. The FIFA beach soccer world cup was going on so anyone who did not book early could not get a room anywhere on the island to do a pre-cruise stay. I booked my own air which gave us a nice credit from PG. Had Air Tahiti Nui miles. Their program stinks compared to years ago by the way. Service and quality has gone downhill since I first started flying with them in 2006 but that is a story for another day and forum.
Embarkation as usual (this was my 3rd PG cruise) but be forewarned - you will not be allowed to get on the ship until after 3pm. Check in efficient and I was shown my cabin by one of the housekeepers and along the way many who remembered us made us feel very welcome with welcome back shouts. Even people who I did not recognize. The people who work on the ship will do everything they can for you. It is also like seeing family after a long absence. I cannot say enough about the crew.
First night dinner was very good then off the Creperie du Port at the Roulettes for my usual crepe dessert. Many people never get off the ship to try the Roulettes - big mistake, it is a great experience.
I had also stopped into Le Marche earlier to get some awesome flowers for the room.
Day one was Raiatea and being a Sunday the town was shut down. Unless you are on an excursion there is nothing to do so I just relaxed on a near empty ship. The children of Raiatea show was really good - they only do this on Sunday. Motu Monday was a blast as always. 2 days on Bora Bora up next and the motu that PG has is very nice. I just wish they had a few chairs and bathroom facilities. However the location and water more than make up for this. I did not do any ship's excursions this cruise but people who I talked to that had used the ship for excursions had zero complaints. I did have dinner off the ship at Bora Bora - La Villa Mahana - 2nd time there and as usual it was incredible. I know everyone has to go to Bloody Mary's at least once but this is the place that will knock your socks off (read my two Tripadvisor reviews - same handle). 2 days in Moorea next, rented a car for the day. I find this the best way to see everything at my own pace. I did some shopping, went to an incredible beach and had a great lunch. A much better use of $$$ than a ship's tour.
Food on the ship was a big improvement over my previous cruises. The chef - Daniel from Holland - also a very nice guy - definitely knows his stuff and I had no complaints. The soups are all great and it was nice to see lobster back on the menu after a long absence due to local regulations. I cannot speak to desserts as I only indulged once as I had lost a lot of weight before this trip and wanted to be careful. Speaking of which, every morning in La Pallette I had a juice breakfast. This was a nice surprise and a recent addition. My new diet consists of juicing quite a bit. I did have breakfast once in the dining room and as usual the lamb chops were outstanding. The lunch buffet each day was very good, especially Italian day. Much of the food here was better than you will get at most restaurants.
Dinner each not in the main dining room was outstanding. There are many choices so it is night hard to find something appealing. Room service was very good and quick also. You can have what they serve in the dining room during dinner hours.
The passengers consisted of 50% Americans but there were many local residents on board to give the ship a different "flavor" than what I had experienced before and that was a good thing. It was fun to mingle and get a different perspective from these folks. I wish one couple did not bring their bored to death small kids on board..... Internet was spotty - better to use your own device than the ship's computers. Wi Fi can be easily found in port - that's the way I went.
Bottom line is that service and food were outstanding, my cabin attendant was superb, the weather was perfect every day, the staff - cruise director Steve, international hostess Irina, hotel director Jean Paul, F & B manager Paul and the Captain (Toni) were all excellent, personable and a lot of fun to be around. I was skeptical when I had heard the Les Gauguines had changed from all girls to also include guys but it turns out that it was a great idea and those guys were great. Their shows were good. Lectures by Mark Eddowes are always informative also. The shows from local troupes also excellent. I have to be really picky to find something to complain about. Other than creme brulee only available in the alternative restaurants I had zero complaints this trip. It was nice not having to get off the ship and debarkation day. On to cruise #2. To Be Continued..................Wow - the passengers are MUCH different for this one!