My 13 year old son and I had the time of our lives on the Tahitian Princess. We live in Los Angeles, California so the departure from LAX was with ease. Our flight arrangements and excursions were booked through Princess and the overall trip was booked by my TA. We flew economy with Air Tahiti Nui and the 8 1/2 hour trip went quickly. We flew to Europe in spring on KLM, economy and found Air Tahiti more enjoyable. We are average in size and had no complaints.
My son soon became a member of the teen group on board. Since I feel they were "too cool" for the scheduled program; the group became known as the "A Team" and roamed the ship as a group. Mostly at night, since this is such a port extensive itinerary cruise.
We did not eat at Sabatini's or Sterlings, so I cannot comment on the alternative dining on board. I was scheduled at the early dining seating in the dining room and felt the food was pretty good. The eggplant parmesian was fantastic, as well as the fish entrees. Should you not be able to decide, as your waiter for a suggestion. He will never steer you wrong.
We ate breakfast and lunch at the Panorama Buffet. You can order fresh cooked eggs to order in the morning at the poolside grill. This is more appetizing, but then you need to hustle back and wait for your toast, bagel or english muffin to be toasted (as your eggs are getting cold). The milk and cream left alot to be desired. I chose to drink my coffee black. I believe we are spoiled in the USA, by superior milk products.
The evening entertainment was good, and the Princess Dance Group was great. They put so much energy into the show and seemed flawless, even when the ship was rocking. The stage is very small and hosts a four man band. I suggest you get there at least 15 minutes early to get a good seat. The Comedian and the Magician were both great. The Cabaret singer was mediocre.
We busied ourselves at each island port with excursions. The best souvenir shopping is across the street at Papeete. We chose the Valley & Waterfall tour on Papeete. Great tour and we swam in a waterfall. Made every tahitian expectation come true. On Huainine we booked the horseback tour. The weather was cloudy and drizzled, and it poured on us during our ride on the beach. This however did not ruin the experience in the least. A once in a lifetime tour. On Raitatea we did the drift snorkeling tour. It was exciting and we saw the most beautiful fish off of the island Tahaa. We drifted with the current through a valley of coral. Our guide was from South Africa and terrific. We were not able to make port on Rairatonga due to rough seas. Some passengers were seasick, but it was not that bad for us. There as a hurricane in the Hawaiian Island area, as I felt fortunate that things went as well as they did, with clouds and drizzle. Our next port was Bora Bora. We booked the Sting Ray Ballet and Snorkel tour. They guide feeds the sting rays and creates a feeding frenzy. Not my cup of tea. I did not feel comfortable with a dozen or so of these large, but graceful sea creatures bumping up on me. You can opt to swim further away and observe. I brought an underwater camera and soon ran out of film. We brought swimming fins, water shoes, mask and Snorkel from LA. I highly recommend anyone planning to get into the water to do the same. The coral is very sharp and little sea creature live in the sea floor, which is made up of broken shells and coral. Our last port was Moorea and was the only disappointment. I was anticipating it to be the most impressive and I felt the excursions were only interested in selling us something. I had booked two excursions on this day. First the a/c tour coach ride around the island with a stop at a Tahitian Cultural Village. We were first shown into a black pearl store and then into a couple huts with some crafts and then a quick dance show. None compared to what we had already seen and I felt we were taken advantaged of. Next the guide on the motorcoach was trying to explain the economics of living in Tahiti and stopped at the Juice Factory, which is another chance to be sold some juice of liquor. After this we went on a Snorkel Safari, which turned into another sting ray feeding frenzy and a visit from a dozen black finned sharks. Then off to an area between two motus for independent snorkeling. Not so great, some fish, but nothing like the other islands.
We were part of the flight that had the 3 1/2 hour delay on our flight home. We were exhausted and it was late. I was glad that it was in the middle of the night and not during a hot sunny afternoon. I was never so happy to arrive back at LAX and be on my way home.
I feel that this cruise is the ONLY way to see Tahiti. We were very disappointed that we did not make Rarotonga, but sort of expected it since it is a rarity for them to successfully tender.