As previously mentioned I had a great 7 day cruise and this was my second leg of the back to back. I will not rehash service, food, entertainment etc as it was all equally as great as the week before. This cruise was billed as a whale watching cruise as we were heading to the Austral island of Rurutu.
A very nice perk of being on the back to back is that we never had to get off the ship in the morning and wait until 3 to get back on. This made for a great day of relaxation and exploration of downtown Papeete.
As people started to embark onto the ship it was quickly evident that the passenger makeup was going to be much different than cruise number 1. More about this later.
Not much was different this trip. We had a new F & B manager, Stephane, who was an incredibly nice guy and also Mattia Favaro and Marzia, the Italian magicians who turned out to be really great people and put on a couple of good shows.
Our first stop was Huahine and for the third time we used Marc at Huahine Nautique and as usual had a great picnic and shark feeding. Most on board were from Cruise Critic but the 3 locals they also picked up were very strange. Virtually every roll call to this island sets a trip up with Marc so check it out.
We had the usual great time at Motu Mahana simply because this time we chose not to leave the ship. It was very nice to have the ship virtually to ourselves. it was a very different experience to be sure.
At Bora Bora we also decided to spend a night at the Intercontinental Thalasso and Spa using one of my free night perks for having the IHG Visa card. I get a free night every year so why not use it at a $1000 a night hotel. The hotel was incredible and everyone should stay here once in their lifetime! We never left the room.
Our stop in Raiatea was on a weekday this time so everything was open, still not my favorite stop but we did stock up on soaps and other souvenirs. They have a good drugstore there also.
Onward to the Australs, I always enjoy new islands and Rurutu did not disappoint. The people were the friendliest I have ever encountered and pretty much the entire island came together for our visit. The only other time the ship went there it was not able to disembark any passengers due to high seas. Outfits were made for all the locals in honor of our visit and everyone could not have been more welcoming. The food they laid out of us was outstanding and the women who came on board had great handmade souvenirs to sell. I was able to interact with a few people and they were really great people. This all more than made up for the fact the whales decided to stay away and we saw ONE the entire day.
So much for the whale watching! This made some passengers angry but hey - you know what happens!
Some passengers wanted refunds, apologies etc etc but really folks how can a cruise ship control whales! Now that I have mentioned passengers I want to say that while the first leg of our trek we met no one who was a bit off, this cruise had some "colorful" people. The drunks who were unruly at lunch, the people who incessantly were telling people how much money they made and had. The people who tell everyone how many cruises they have been on as a start of a conversation etc etc etc. There was even the person who would "steal" puzzle pieces from the spot near La Veranda so only he/she could finish the puzzle when it got close! Very different indeed.
Enough of that. Moorea was great as usual by the way. We anchored in Cooks Bay as there was a large Royal Caribbean ship using the usual bay and I really enjoyed the different scenery and atmosphere. We also did the ship's whale/dolphin watching excursion with Dr. Poole and lo and behold in the bay we had 3 humpback whales! It was a great trip and the whales came to within a few feet of us and although they did not "perform" as I have seen in the past it was nevertheless spectacular. No one cared that we did not see dolphins - saw a nice sea turtle though.
So that's it - two cruises in a row and both great. We are returning for the 2014 "Repeaters Cruise" and can't wait. The Pacific Beachcomber company has done a wonderful job in the 4 years they have owned this ship. The food and service have improved greatly. The local entertainment is not to be missed and the Gauguines shows are always great. Once again EVERYONE on board could not have been nicer. I would thank everyone personally but there would not be enough room here.
I also met Richard Bailey, the chairman who could not have been more gracious. This leg also had John Hay and Helen Henry as guest lecturers who turned out to be the loveliest people you can imagine and became good friends. If you are on a cruise with them make sure you attend the lectures.