On 8/29 we flew from Sacramento to Papeete, first on United to LAX then Air Tahiti Nui for a three day pre-cruise at the Intercontinental in Tahiti. Hopefully some day Air Tahiti Nui will provide a course on customer service that all US carriers attend. Our flight was only 20 minutes late leaving LAX, we had 2 meals on the way with drinks and it made for a lovely 8 hour flight. Arriving on time at 9:20pm we got our bags went through customs in less than 10 minutes and picked up the Princess transfer bus without problems. The Intercontinental is a great resort except for the fact of no beaches. Our room was spotless and very nice. The resort was certainly in our opinion a very nice resort. Spent the next day lounging at the swim-up bar pool. Friday was an island tour and Friday night the Polynesia dinner/dance. Again well worth it. Be aware the Tahiti and French Polynesia is extremely expensive!!! The wife bought 3 calendars, 7 postcards and 8 stamps for $130 US. Saturday left for the Tahitian Princess in Papeete.
Embarkation was a snap less than 10 minutes. This was our first cruise on a smaller ship as most cruises have been on 70K tons and above. The Tahitian Princess is only 30K tons, 680 passengers and 320 crew. It makes for a very intimate cruise experience! We especially enjoyed the convenience of the Tahitian Princess and the ability to navigate the ship so well. This cruise we met more people than any other cruise in the past. We had a mini-suite #8050 which was elegantly decorated and gave a very "rich" look. A real gem of a cruise ship! The only downside to the ship is that since its so small you tend to feel every wave and ripple in the ocean. We ported at Moorea, Raiitea and Bora Bora. Especially like Moorea and Raiitea. Bora Bora is very overrated. The tour that justified the whole cruise was the Aqua Safari helmet dive in Raiitea. Fantastic!! The French government needs to invest some money in Bora Bora as we found it dirty and the roads in pretty bad shape. Next stop was Christmas Island. At first I couldn't understand why Princess would stop there but realized that between Bora Bora and Hilo, Hawaii is 4 plus days and people tend to get a little cranky so long on a ship, Christmas Island broke up the days at sea and the singing children were delightful to listen to and see. Also the adults singing and performing. We made a point to donating cash to the grade school while we were there. Christmas Island is very poor and almost primitive but its people are very proud and welcome visitors with open arms.Back to sea for another 2 1/2 days before porting in Hilo Hawaii. Since we had previously been to the big island we decided to rent a car and drive to the Kona area in search of a coffee plantation we buy from. Three hours later and hopelessly lost we lunched in Wameia and drove back to the ship. Next day was Lahaina, Maui and my wife's birthday and the surprise I had planned. An appearance by Elvis Presley at the dock to greet her. He was there on time as was the Tahitian Princess photographer I hired to take pictures and he sang 10 songs to my wife. She loved it! Shopping and lunch and Elvis made for quite a day! Next day was Kauai and an all day tour. Great next day Honolulu and the end of the cruise. Flew home on United two very uneventful flights except for having to purchase a meal (what a rip off!)
Two things worth mentioning about the cruise. First the quality and how the food is prepared onboard has gone down since our last cruise last October on the Sea Princess to Canada. Most meats are over cooked and of poor quality. Second was the disembarkation in Honolulu. The Tahitian Princess was spending 6 days in Honolulu for a light refurbishing. At times contractors were coming up the gangway while passengers were offloading. Many passengers and buses to the airport had to wait for luggage to be unloaded. A very chaotic scene.But as mentioned a great cruise on a great ship and yes we would do it again.