We are a couple in our 50's who have been on 5 cruises-3 on HAL, 1 on Premier and one on a Columbia River Cruise. We have cruised to Alaska twice, Caribbean twice and the Northwest cruise. We have both traveled all over the world. We had planned this trips for years and finally decided that our 40th anniversary was the time to do it. We took Air Tahiti Nui purchased through Princess, because they had the best price for our Portland to Papeete trip. We did have a 5 hour layover in LA, and had lunch with some relatives there before our flight. The flight is over 8& 1/2 hours long, the seats our very cramped and if I had it to do over again, I would have bought our own air to get better seats or flown business class. We were in the center row of 4 seats together.They do have 2 meals and free drinks (alcohol,soda etc.)
We arrived in Papeete around 10:30 PM and we were exhausted. We got a cab to the ship for around $25 including tip. The Princess rep offered to get our bags to the ship, even though we had not paid for transfers, so that was nice. We walked right on the ship. We thought the ship was beautiful and tastefully decorated. We were very happy with our room and balcony. This was our first balcony, so I can't compare it to other ships, but it was just right for us and had plenty of storage areas. The bathroom and shower were very small, but the spa shampoo/conditioner/lotion was a nice touch. Warning- bring your own hairdryer-the one on the ship is unusable-it is like a hose and gets so hot that you can't use it. We had cards in our cabin for free gifts from our TA and from our children. It was nice to just call and order the gifts on the days that we wanted them. We got champagne, canapes, chocolate covered strawberries and the balcony breakfast. We enjoyed all of them, the balcony breakfast was enough for 6 people.
Our trip included the islands of Papeete, Huahine, Roratonga, Bora Bora, Raiatea and Moorea. Unfortunately, because of rough seas we did not make it into Roratonga. This did disappoint us, but since we had heard that the ship only makes it into this port 50% of the time we were prepared. We had 3 sea days of rough seas. I don't usually get seasick, but had taken some generic Bonnie and still felt queasy for one whole day. Green apples and crackers helped alot. Our room steward, waiters and all of the crew did a wonderful job. We had planned a wedding vow renewal through Princess and the planer, Leni went our of her way to make it a very special day. The vow renewals are done on "at sea" days and it was also formal night. My husband wore a rented tux from the ship and I had gone all out and had a beautiful long white chiffon wedding gown. The captain does the vows and for the $205. package you get flowers for the wife and husband, an 8/10 framed picture of your choice, champagne at the ceremony and a bottle of champagne and glasses in your room on a day of your choice. We also got a frameable certificate and a copy of the vows. It was well worth the money and will be remembered as a very special day. It was a private ceremony even though on the web site, it states it is a group ceremony.
Huahine- It is a sparsely populated beautiful island. We took the afternoon snorkeling trip through Princess and it was very good. The coral and sea life are amazing. You need to book your own excursions here, I didn't see any thing available at the dock. The ship provides free water (bring your own bottle).
Raiatea-We docked here and stayed overnight. There are private excursions offered on the dock, we took a snorkeling trip through the ship with a trip to a pearl farm. This trip was disappointing: the snorkeling wasn't that great and they did not allow enough time to snorkel. The pearl farm was interesting. The Raiatea Tahitian dances were on the ship here and it is a show not to miss. First they have the children's show and then the adults--get there early to get good seats. The also sell flower leis and head-dresses for only $5 each, before the tahitian dance show and they are heavenly--smell great!
Bora Bora- This was my favorite island. We were overnight here. We took the Aquai Safari offered through the ship and it was so much fun, don't miss it. Sign up before your trip-it sells out early. They take you out to a sight and take 5 people down after they put a helmet on your head that has air pumped into it.You go down about 12-15 feet and walk on the bottom of the ocean. I was very nervous about this tour at first! Once we got down my fears went away---we saw all kinds of fish and manta rays. They send bread in a bag down with you and the fish come right up to you. There is a person in Scuba down their with you,so I felt very safe. We did look around Bora Bora a little, shopped, spent $10. for a local beer and soda and then went back to the ship.
Moorea--this is another beautiful island. We went on a moto picnic/snorkeling trip through Princess. We spent most of the 6 hours snorkeling and it was an enjoyable trip. The only downside was that it had a lot of people on this tour. We just walked down the beach and had the area to ourselves.
Positives on the trip--having our balcony, sailing into each port with the view from our balcony,the snorkeling is amazing, the food in the dinning room is good,the tahitian dance show, our vow renewal was very special, the crew treats you like a king and queen, the ship is beautiful, less people, so no waiting to get off the ship and for tours.The ship and the islands are the most amazing place on earth and we have traveled all over the world.
Negatives on trip-There were not very many on this trip. I did not think the buffet food was that good, but my husband liked it. The small shower and the hair dryer need to be improved. Missing Roratonga was disappointing, but did not effect the wonderful time that we had on this cruise.
The only show we went to was the Raiatea Tahitian dance show. We spent most of our time snorkeling and enjoying our time alone on our balcony. We can't really rate entertainment on board. The age-group on the ship was children to senior citizens, but it is a younger age than HAL ships and we enjoyed the mix. There were perhaps 70% Americans and the rest other nationalities.
The Tahitian Princess will no longer be in Tahiti during the summer months and that is a shame. The summer usually has less rain and less humidity. The weather in Tahiti is very hot and humid, so be prepared. We live in the Northwest and are used to dry heat, so we really felt the humidity. Everything is very expensive on the islands. The market place in Papeete is the best place to buy gifts, though the airport duty-free store has a good selection of souvenirs. We bought a tropical flower arrangement at the Papeete market place for only $15. for our cabin and it lasted the whole cruise.
If you can afford this trip do it. You will not regret it!