Twelve months prior to this cruise we did a cruise on the Sea Princess out of Australia. It was very disappointing and not what we normally expect from Princess. However, this cruise restored our faith in Princess.
This is our second time on the Ocean Princess, but first time in Tahiti. We enjoy the small ship experience. If you want climbing walls, ziplines, and extravegant shows, the Ocean princess is not for you. If you want small crowds, life at a relaxed pace, fine food, and intimate shows, the Ocean Princess is for you.
We flew into Papeete the night before and wandered down to the wharf the next day just after the check in opened. Embarkation was a breeze. The check in and security staff were in good humor and we were on board before we knew it. On the Tahitian cruises you stay in port at Papeete on the first night. I think it is to allow those arriving on late night aircraft to join the ship overnight.
We elected to go to 'The Grill' specialist restaurant on the first night. The quality of the food and service was excellent. We went there again later in the cruise and it was again excellent. On the second night of the cruise we joined our table of eight in the main dining room. Our table mates were very good company and our waiter Maurios from Rumania was a great host. I took his recommendations for dinner on most nights and he never steered me wrong. It is important to remember that the waiters do a tasting before the dinner service so they usually know what they are talking about.
Our first port of call was the Island of Huahine where we did a ship's excursion to a 'secluded' beach. This would have been perfect except for the sound of excavators nearby. Nonetheless we spent a leisurely couple of hours snorkeling and lying on the beach. The next day was a sea day and I was able to spend time in a well appointed Gym which is large for the number of passengers on board. There was never any wait for access to equipment. I also found the laundry very well equipped.
The ship has the usually trivia and deck games to pass the time on sea days, but thankfully no art auctions. Entertainment is not as grand as on the larger ships, but still good quality. The production shows were well presented with good lead singers. The guest entertainers included a singer and magician/ comedian. Both were very good.
A highlight was the port lecturer, Douglas Pearson. He was very knowledgeable and his madcap style of presenting made for great entertainment.
Our second port of call was Rangiroa. A beautiful coral atoll with crystal clear water. We went snorkeling on what was a perfect day. We also visited a pearl farm. Much to our surprise we did not get a hard sell, but rather a very good explanation and demonstration on how pearls are grown, graded, and sold.
After Rangiroa it was onto Raiatea where we did a drift snorkel. It should have been a great day in the water with colorful reefs and a wide variety of fish. The water was crystal clear and an amazing shade of blue. However, there was a shallow distance between the reef tops and the water surface. This did not leave much room for error when swimming through the reefs and many in our party ended up with minor grazes and cuts from the reef. All our other snorkelling adventures on this cruise were great except for this one. I would not recommend this particular excursion.
Back on the ship we enjoyed a folkloric display by the locals to complete another day in paradise.
Our next stop was Bora Bora for an overnight stay. On day one we did a snorkeling trip which included feeding sharks and stingrays. It was a great experience, very up close and personal. I would recommend this excursion to anyone. On day two we were going to go ashore again but in the end we did not bother. One of the great things about cruising is that if you do not want to do anything, you do not have to.
Our last port of call before returning to Papeete was Moorea. Here we did another snorkeling excursion which involved stingrays, sharks and our own time on the reef. Although it was similar to the Bora Bora excursion, it was a little more low key and the Moorea stingrays seemed to be friendlier than the Bora Bora stingrays. The Moorea excursion was the best of all the excursions we took.
We arrived at our disembarkation port of Papeete the evening before our disembarkation date. This is to allow people such as ourselves with early departures to leave the ship in the early morning. We disembarked the ship at 5:30am to catch an international flight home, which left at 8:00am. There is no requirement for customs and emigration checks on disembarkation as you never leave the French Polynesian territory on the cruise.
In summary it was a great cruise!