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Ocean Princess Cruise Review by kattom: Tahitian Princess - South Pacific


kattom
1 Review
Member Since 2006
219 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 3.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities 2.0
Entertainment 3.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates 4.0
Service 4.0
Shore Excursions 5.0
Value for Money 4.0

Compare Prices on Ocean Princess South Pacific Cruises

Tahitian Princess - South Pacific

Sail Date: October 2007
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: Tahiti (Papeete)

10/1/07 Sailing

I'd like to begin my review by thanking everyone on CruiseCritic.com for helping to make such a great trip. Not only did I have a great cruise with all the best excursions (in my mind!) but I also got to vicariously enjoy the trip through all the reviews and posts I read in the months leading up to the actual day of departure. In gratitude, I offer the following observations and opinions to those who follow after us.

#1 I strongly advise you to join a roll call for your particular cruise and get to know some of the people on your cruise before leaving home. I think one of the most enjoyable things about our cruise was knowing so many people in advance. Not only did 10 other local friends join us on this cruise-but there were also about 20 CC friends. Most of our excursions were either with cc friends or personal friends-so not only did we have lots of fun-but we have tons of photos from all sorts of perspectives.

#2 Cabin selection: We More decided to splurge on a mini-suite for this cruise because it was for our 30th wedding anniversary. I wasn't sure about cabin location and actually switched 3 times before we ended up with cabin #8032. Princess told my TA that port side was the best-and I now completely agree with her. About the only time we didn't have the best view was in Moorea. All the other times I felt like our view was absolutely spectacular-especially in Bora Bora. I was also worried noise issues-I like it quiet. Our cabin was extremely quiet and I never once heard any noise from the hallways or other people outside our cabin. We did get occasional thumps above us (deck 9) and I think it was because we were close to where the stairway to deck 10 was and people coming off the stairs would occasionally jump. We also heard the sail away band playing on deck 9 a few times-it was actually quite pleasant. Was the price worth it-YES! Other friends were in regular balcony cabins and once they saw our cabin they said next time they would do it. Because it is for 10 days-especially if you have 3 sea days-it is really nice to relax and enjoy your spacious room and balcony. We also liked the location for the buffet. First thing in the morning, either DH or I would run up to the buffet and pour ourselves coffee in the thermos mugs we brought. We could then wake up a little slower with our first cup on our private patio. We even took our room tray up a couple of times and brought fruit and croissants back to the cabin for breakfast on the balcony. There is lots of storage and the bathroom is spacious and nice. We never had any trouble with the toilet (unlike the HAL ship we recently sailed on.) Our bed wasn't quite as comfortable as the HAL beds, but not bad. It already had an egg carton pad on it so we didn't need to ask. We did ask for a top sheet and it was put on immediately. A great cabin.

#3 Dinner seating: We elected for late seating so we wouldn't be rushed. There were 12 of us in our personal group. We asked for a round table of 8 and then a table for 4. Princess completely ignored our request and set us at two tables for 6-that were not even connected. We were also off to the side near the service entry-Tables 38 and 36. I would not recommend them. Our table stewards were good-but they completely forgot our special cake on our anniversary night until nearly everyone in the dining room was gone and we had already eaten dessert. They tried to cover up and send the cake to our room-but they might as well of not bothered. With it so forgotten-it would have better to pretend they didn't know about it at all. Not a real big deal but it made me wonder why I filled out the cruise personalizer online before going if it never gets read. (Our room steward also did nothing.) Would we do late seating again? I don't think so. Everyone in our personal group complained constantly about the late seating. We ended up eating at the table for 6 several times by ourselves. I personally believe the early seating on this ship is probably better because it gets dark (at least in October) close to 6:00. If it stayed light later, it would have been much easier. I was also disappointed in Princess ignoring requests for table seating. We booked 18 months in advance so it would have been nice to have been given some priority.

#4 Food. Most of the food was decent-but nothing really stands out for me. I think the meal I enjoyed the most was one night we had scallops on rice and on the side, we split an order of fettuccini Alfredo. My husband had salmon a couple of times and said it was good. Desserts were tasty but the only thing that stood out was the Baked Alaska.

#5 Breakfast. First, I want to say how disappointed I was that the main dining room only served breakfast from 7 to 9. We never once made it. If we got up early, it was for an excursion so we didn't have time-and if we wanted to sleep in, we missed the time. I would STRONGLY REQUEST that Princess re-adjusts this time frame. I think HAL offers breakfast in the dining room until 9:30 or 10:00 and that made a big difference. So, because we couldn't eat in the dining room we ended up in the buffet. I personally don't like the buffet much at all-and because everyone else was there (hardly anyone ever went to the main dining room and didn't even know they could!) it was just about always very crowded. There is something about buffets that seems to bring out the animal in people. If you aren't careful, you will get run over or bumped like crazy. People dart in and out and you take your life in your hand to get something to eat! We ended up taking a tray out to the grill (by the pool) and you can get eggs cooked to order or omelets. This was the best buffet option in my opinion. Plus, the fruits selection was always nice. You can sit inside in the air conditioning or go out back and sit on the aft patio-quite nice if there is a table. #6 Room Service: We only did room service one morning on this trip. We preferred to wake up when we wanted to and then run up and get our own coffee. But one morning we decided to use room service for our wake up call. They were actually a few minutes late, but it worked fine for coffee, fruit and croissants. I was actually disappointed that the room service menu was so limited. On the HAL ship that we sailed on last year-you could order anything on the regular menu during the dinner hours. Supposedly, that was not true on Princess. They only had a few things on the regular room service menu and we didn't partake.

#7 Specialty Dining: We dined at both Sterling Steak House and Sabatini's. Unfortunately, both times we went with friends and were seated at a table for 8 in the far back of both dining rooms-and with that came Surly Waiter from Hungary. He was a thin humorless man who didn't waste a word or smile on anything. The first time was in Sterlings and when a friend asked about the fish selection, he almost sneered at her!! When she asked how it was cooked, he said well done. When she asked if she have it medium rare he told her NO! No explanation. I suppose if the food had been better it would have made up for the poor service-but the steaks were only reasonably good-nothing exceptional. On the night we went to Sabatini's were also given the surly waiter from Hungary. He was in a little better mood on this night but still lacked personality. In Sabatini's we ate sea bass and lobster, which were only reasonably good. I also didn't feel that the food was a tremendous amount. I tried a bit of everything, but didn't eat it all either. I enjoy meals that take a long time so wasn't put off by that either-but I didn't think our service or the quality of the food was worth it so I wouldn't probably do it again. However, our friends attended a couple of different other times and sat at tables for 4 people. They said that the wait staff they had were exceptional and made the evening very, very special. Either we were just unlucky OR, never go for a table of eight.

#8 The Ship: Loved it! It is small and beautiful-and seemed extremely well kept. Of course, it was in wet dock just one sailing before we got on so that probably helped. We have only been on one other ship-the HAL Massdam and while others said how nice that ship was, we liked the TP even better. Our cabin was great. The common areas of the ship were nicely done and we liked the Tahitian Lounge up on the 10th very much. It was a great place for dancing and that is where they had the champagne waterfall and dessert night. The elevators were fast and never crowded-of course neither were the stairs. There was a jogging track on the 10th deck that I only used one of the sea days.

#9 Nightlife-what nightlife? The only show we saw was the Children of Raiatea dance at the early show (5:15 p.m.) so don't have any comment on the shows that were offered. We do like to dance but had the hardest time doing so...none of our friends stayed up after 9:00 p.m.!!!! Luckily, one other couple that we met through CC was into dancing so most nights we met up in the Tahitian Lounge around 9:30 or 10:00. Unfortunately, the Cruise Activity Directors decided to use the 10:00 to 11:00 time frame for stupid games and events. The worst was karaoke. No one wanted to do it except a couple of the very drunk honeymooners. So, the staff ended up doing most of the singing. We were there because we wanted to dance-they always pulled the band off early-and never started the disco before 11:00. With the ship being mainly populated by baby-boomers-you would think that Princess would avoid games and karaoke and get with the dancing. With that said, I did win a Princess Clock during the hoola hoop contest. I wasn't good, but you should have seen the others. If you are looking for an active nightlife on this ship-bring friends with you who like to stay up past nine-otherwise forget it! #10 Rarotonga-we missed it. And it was all very deceiving too. Our sail down to the island was relatively calm. It seemed very likely we would land. We woke in the morning and the waves didn't look bad at all-until a small boat tried to drop a crew member on board and the boat could barely get close. While we were disappointed-it was pretty obvious that the captain should be concerned. Then we sailed around the island-which seemed like a time stalling technique and slowly sailed back to Raiatea. We actually talked to the captain the night we left Huahine (before sailing to Raratonga) and asked him what our chances were. He was optimistic at that point-but he also explained that he would have to make the choice the next morning (fully 24 hours before we would make it to Raratonga) if he wanted to re-route the trip. And if he did re-route us there was always a chance there would be rough seas at the new location and we might not land there either. He said that no matter what he did people could be disappointed. As it turned out-we didn't make Rarotonga and I don't think I'd risk it in an itinerary again myself.

#11 Excursions: We didn't take one Princess Excursion and I'm very glad we didn't. While some of them might have been good-we heard the usual good things about the helmet dive-I can't imagine ours weren't better. We did:

a. Patrick's 1/2 day in Papeete: We met Patrick on the dock at Papeete at 8:00 (although he later emailed some of the others to meet him at 8:30 so we had to wait a while. ) All three other couples in his tour were from the cc roll call. Unfortunately we didn't get to see too much of the island because it rained on and off most of the day. But it was still good to get out of Papeete to see that the island does have some beautiful parts to it. Everything was so green and lush it was like an extra jolt of oxygen breathing it in (especially good after the diesel fumes of Papeete!) Patrick explained lots about the island's history and different plants and flowers. On the upside, we got a pretty wild ride over the rocks and mud to the waterfall. AND, because of the rain, our entire tour was very comfortable temperature-wise. I never felt hot-not cold either-just right. Even though it wasn't the most fantastic tour, it was fun meeting some of the others from CC and getting out of Papeete for much of the day.

b. Huahine-Marc's 4x4. We knew all of the people in both 4x4's from our cc roll call, and many of the people on the water portion of the trip. The 4x4 was sold out with 16 people-but some of our friends who hadn't made reservations were able to join the water portion of the trip and were quite happy. We first drove around the island and stopped at a place or two for photos. Marc drove one vehicle and we were in the other. We then went to the little town of Fare where there was a bathroom and we were taken to marc's restaurant for a drink. I think everyone had Hinanos and they sure tasted great. We timed it well because while we were there in the bar it poured rain again-and then cleared up. Then we got back in the trucks and went to see the sacred blue eyed eels. It is down in this ditch area-and he asked two of the women who had water shoes on to join him. I would have done it but was still wearing sandals. Then with Helen and Katie standing next to him he waved around chucks of fish and those eels started jumping at the meat. Then he drags more fish between their legs and the eels are darting around like crazy. Next thing you know....one of the eels scrapes/bites Katie!!!!!!!! Her leg is bleeding and Marc is just sort of stunned. He then takes some of the water from the pool and rinses the blood off her leg-and we're all thinking, "Now she's really a goner!!!" Luckily, Katie was a really good sport. She didn't freak out or anything. She calmly got out of the ditch and we all started helping her with napkins and wraps to stop the bleeding. The eel didn't actually bite her-but scraped her with its teeth. There were three scrape marks along with bruising. Meanwhile, Marc is very quiet and concerned. Next, we went to one of the mareas which was interesting-then finally we went to an area where there were boats and we all got into the boat to go to the island for the picnic. Marc asked if any of us wanted to snorkel before lunch and about 7 of us did-he dropped the others at the island and then took us out in the bay for a drift snorkel. It was a pretty good one-but none of us brought any bread or anything for them to attract fish. Then, just when we were getting a bit tired from the snorkel we saw that the boat had drifted far away. Marc had told us that he would keep the boat with us at all times so we could get in anytime we wanted. Well, the engine on the boat went out!!!! I think Marc was wishing he'd never met any of us at that time. Another guy from the picnic brought out another boat and took us back in. Then we had a really great meal on a wonderful island setting. Everything was really tasty and good-the sun was out-it was perfect. Of course, Katie got a lot of attention the rest of the cruise being called "Eel woman" at every opportunity. I think Marc was understandably concerned-but he was actually lucky that if it had to happen, it happened with Katie. She not only took it well-she was a nurse and knew how to take care of it afterward. Needless to say, Marc did not charge her for the tour and said that he will never again take passengers in water with him to feed the eels. This was a very great day and even without the eels, I would strongly recommend this excursion.

c. Raiatea with Bruno-We signed up along with 6 others from our CC roll call. Others showed up on the dock asking if they could join us-Bruno said no. It really made it nice just having 8 people. Some of the princess tour boats looked loaded. The day was somewhat overcast so we were unsure what to expect. Bruno first took us to a little island and explained how the pearls are "seeded" and part of the process-- it really explained why the prices are so high when you hear all the effort to make them. Then we went in a house with a large patio where Monica showed us how the pearls were graded and my husband let me pick out a necklace for an anniversary gift. What I discovered about pearl buying is that for me the story behind the purchase made all the difference. Just being able to remember the place and person and experience made it more special and worth the cost. One of our friend bought a necklace on the boat at a close out 75% off price-no matter how much she saved-my pearl story is much more romantic! Next Bruno took us to the coral garden to snorkel. Luckily, the sun came out and it was gorgeous! The current was not bad and the sea was relatively calm. Simply put-it was THE BEST snorkeling I've ever experienced. Great fish, beautiful coral. A nice easy drift. We used water shoes-you would not want to use fins. Bruno took photos and even sent us some afterwards. Very nice. After the snorkeling, we went to another little island where a barbecue was happening. It looked like a small hotel/campground with lots of French tourists there. It was a bit confusing because there were so many people wandering around-I don't think that was normal-perhaps because it was a Sunday? Anyway, Bruno finally found us a big table off to the side under a porch (which was good because it was raining). Some people walked over to watch the food preparations-but I don't think that was advisable. It was very "rustic". The food was then placed on big picnic tables in all sorts of different bowls. It reminded me of being invited to a family reunion because nothing was explained and some of it looked sort of odd. I ate much of it anyway and tried some things I have no idea what they were. We were also served Hinanos or wine. After we all went through the food line, the French customers lined up and went through. It really felt like a big family potluck. After lunch, Bruno showed us the sting rays, sharks and puffer fish in the lagoon area in front of the restaurant. That was interesting too. You can get in the water with the rays and sharks if you want. Then we got back in the boats and headed to the Vanilla Bean Farm. It started raining on us again-but we made it without getting too wet. Then it let up enough to walk around the farm a bit. Then back to the ship. Overall: The snorkeling in the coral garden is not to be missed! If you like things nice and tidy, you might not appreciate the family rustic nature of our picnic-but I liked the contrast. We really enjoyed our day and recommend you do Bruno's tour when in Raiatea.

d. Bora Bora-afternoon circle island tour. On this day we landed in Bora Bora around noon. My DH and I went ashore and found a taxi driver who would take 8 of us around the island for a tour. We got a French guy named "Simplay" (at least that's how we pronounced it!) He was great. For $25/per person we drove all the away around the island. We saw others on the Princess Circle Island tour crammed together on Le Truck type vehicles-they went to the same places we did, but paid something like $90/person. Plus, when they got to Bloody Mary's they were only given 10 minutes. We told Simplay that we wanted to get a drink-he said, "no problem!" Our advice, get off the ship and find Simplay! On day number two Bora Bora we had reserved a jet ski (wave runner) tour of the island. We reserved through Top Excursions (I think they are with Top Dive). Our appointment said they would pick us up at 10:30. When they still weren't there at 10:45 a guy at one of the tour desks on the dock called them for us, and the company said they were running late. Coco arrived 5 minutes later. We took a boat ride to the other side of the island and got on the wave runner. For the fist 15 minutes it was pretty rough. We passed the harbor by the ship and the waves were high, the wind was blowing and it started to rain. Not real fun. Then thankfully we got around back of the island, and the waves smoothed out, the wind dropped and the water was gorgeous and clear. Very nice. DH drove through all the rough stuff, but then our guide let us stop and switch. There was only one other couple besides us on the tour. Then we went to a little island and our guide cut up bananas, pineapple and coconut for us. Also very nice. After a break we rode a while longer before ending up back at the property. After cleaning up we asked them to drop us at Bloody Mary's to meet some of our friends. After a hamburger and a couple of mai tai's we had to be poured back to the ship! A great way to visit the islands!

That was all the excursions we took. I had thought we would do a 4x4 tour on Moorea but after our day on Bora Bora we decided to just take it easy. We got off the ship and took a Taxi to the Intercontinental and walked around-nice and relaxing.

#12 Pre and Post cruise: I agonized over whether doing a post or a pre cruise time. As it turned out I was very pleased with doing 1 night pre and 2 nights post. We flew in the night before we could board and stayed with 3 other couples at Le Mandarin in downtown. I wasn't sure about staying here but I was glad that it was so close to the ship. The rooms were fine-fairly quiet and had good air conditioning. Once we checked in, we were able to walk down to the waterfront and sit at a little cafe for a drink. In the morning, we got up and ate at the little restaurant next to the hotel-good for a quick bite and not terribly expensive. Then we checked out at 11:00 and rolled our luggage to the ship. Very convenient. We were able to board around 11:30 just like has been previously reported. VERY SIMPLE and easy process. For our post cruise we took the Moorea Express Ferry to Moorea. I had read somewhere that the Moorea Express was the best-I'm not sure that's true but it got us there in 30 minutes and was only $11/ way for each of us. (they took credit cards) We then had reserved a car through AVIS and when we got off the ferry, we saw the cars parked right across the street. Very easy. We got a little car with A/C for 2 days, 4 hours, full insurance and it cost 30,200 cfp. We then drove to our little beach bungalow. We are into contrast and enjoy the "local experience" so rather than staying at one of the resorts, we wanted something different. I had reserved the Beach Bungalow at Linareva. (see tripadvisor.com from hotel reviews) When we arrived it was everything we hoped for. It had a nice front little porch area, a full kitchen, TV, Ac, a king sized bed and right on the beach. While it was very comfortable, it was a bit funky. (i.e. chips on the linoleum and air gaps around the windows). It just depends on what you like or expect. There were a few other people staying there but not crowded at all. Very casual, nice, quiet and secluded after being on the ship. We ate at four different restaurants and ALL the food was excellent. First lunch at Le Pianapo-gorgeous beach restaurant with terrific food (only open for lunch). Next, Breakfast at the Blue Pineapple at Hotel Bali Hi. Then, dinner at Aito's--very quaint and unusual with even better food and mai tais! Last, Te Honu Iti-french food on the water of Cook's Bay for lunch. Of course, while the food was very good, it was also very expensive. Plus, if we had eaten this food before getting on the ship, we would have been VERY disappointed in ship food. This was vastly superior! We had to check out of our hotel by noon on the last day so we had a breakfast of coffee and bananas and then went for a long lunch before driving up to Belvedere Lookout. The day was cloudy but no rain so we were able to get a view. Then we drove to the last ferry of the day at 4:50 (turned in the car right there at the dock) and arrived back in Papeete at 5:30 with plenty of time to get to the airport. A nice way to spend airport return day (we saw the poor people waiting for the plane when we boarded the ship and didn't want to look that bored or sad ourselves!)

#13 LAX, ATN and the Papeete Airport: a. LAX-We live about 2.5 hours east of LA. We drove in the morning before our 1:00 p.m. flight and arrived really early (it was a Sunday). We got in line to check in about 9:30 a.m. and when the desk opened at 10:00 we checked in. Then we went upstairs to the Daily Grille and had breakfast. After breakfast some in our group went to the Duty Free shop there at the airport and picked up bottles of liquor-that was handed to them right before they boarded the plane. They could then stick it in their hand held luggage. They then put it in their regular suitcases at the hotel and never had any trouble with Princess taking their bags and putting them in their rooms. b. ATN-We had paid air deviation to go a day early but I think it is also very valuable to get your seat assignments. We were assigned two seats on the side (not the four in the middle) and I swear the distance between the seats looked much more cramped in the middle. The flight was very smooth and service was nice. We knew so many people on board that time went very fast. c. Papeete Airport. Yes, when we landed at 6:30 it was pretty hot and humid at the airport-but who cared? We were in Tahiti! It took a while to get through their customs and then we went out and got a taxi for 4 of us-it was $30 to the Le Mandarin in down town. Leaving Tahiti, we arrived in Papeete by Ferry from Moorea. There was a marathon going on downtown and the cops had all the streets blocked off which caused lots of confusion. We just pulled our bags (another reason not to over pack!) up a couple of streets off of the dock and caught a taxi driving by. We got to the airport around 6:30 p.m and there were about 20 people in line. Once again, we had two seats by the window and aisle and I HIGHLY Recommend you pay air deviation to get them assigned early. FYI: I actually had a bit of a problem with our assigned seats. I had reserved my seats about 8 months in advance. About 2.5 months out, ATN cancelled the inbound flight so we lost those seats. I screamed to my TA who pestered ATN and although they did not guarantee that we would have good seats when we returned, when we checked in at the airport and asked if we could have window/aisle seats, we were told "our request" had been granted. Thank Goodness-it really helps to relax on that overnight flight. FYI#2-We had booked Princess Air and I was pretty unhappy with them when the cancelled the seats on our inbound flight. HOWEVER, the day our ship docked at Papeete it was announced that ATN ground crew was on strike and that all passengers would be notified about what was to happen. EeeeK! Of course, we weren't flying home that day but it sure caused a lot of excitement. And at that moment I was glad I had Princess Air. Rumor had it that we would be put up in a hotel if the flights didn't leave. But what about all the new passengers coming on board? As it turned out ATN worked it out so there was no delays whatsoever. Not sure if it was Princess or ATN but there were a lot of happy passengers that night.

#14 Dress Code: We weren't sure about the dress code but didn't want to dress up much-not to mention haul everything over in our luggage. My DH wore a tie, jacket and dress pants (not a suit) and I wore a black skirt, a semi-frilly top and short heals. That was it. We were fine. The rest of the time, I wore capris to dinner and my husband wore khaki's. You saw a little bit of everything-on formal night we even saw a guy in jeans with his long sleeve shirt not tucked in-and he walked right in the dining room no problem. Just go and be comfortable.

#15 Laundry-If I were to go again I would take fewer changes of clothes. That's because the laundry makes it so simple and easy. We washed one load in the middle of the cruise and then one on the last day to take to Moorea. 4 quarters to wash (soap is free) and 4 quarters to dry. There were also 2 ironing boards/irons to touch up your clothes if they get wrinkled (or if you care!) FYI the laundry room on the TP was much nicer than the one on the HAL Maasdam.

#16 Luggage-We had two 25" rolling bags with 2 rolling totes that you could sit on top of the 25" bags. We had one over-shoulder bag as a carry-on. This made us very portable and I'm so happy we didn't have more luggage than this. You should have seen some people's piles!

#17 Computer-We took our laptop. Two or three times I took it out and downloaded photos. I never once checked my email but I was told that it was 50cents a minute and very slow. Some guy in the buffet area said he just signed on at the table with his wifi and joined a local wifi with his credit card at something like $8/hour. When we got to Moorea, our wifi was free and I was able to check on the ATN strike to make sure there were no delays. That's when I was happiest I had brought it along.

#18 Seasickness: My DH is extremely prone to seasickness so we don't take any chances. We learned from our scuba diving master several years ago that Bonine which contains Mesclizine HCI was FANTASTIC! You can now buy it as either Bonine, generic seasick pills or Draminine II (do not buy the Dramamine Original!) The mesclizine comes in pills of 25 mg and my DH took one every 12 hours. He had absolutely no side effects. It doesn't make you sleepy or tired or anything-you just don't get sick. On our sailing we didn't really hit any waves until we sailed south to Raratonga-and it wasn't really that bad. But a number of people had trouble that first night after leaving Huahine. Unfortunately, they waited until they got sick to take any pills and then had a rough night of it. One of our friends was really nervous so she stuck the patch on-and for the rest of the cruise walked around in a daze. While she might not have felt sick-she definitely had side affects. I am not sure why more people don't try the Bonine pills. They are inexpensive and really work with no side effects. Just take them and not worry about it.

#19 Spa: Both Thom and I did massages on the first sea day. We tried to make appointments when we first boarded, but the spa staff told us that on sea days we couldn't reserve Swedish massages (they save the time for the more expensive massages). But they put our name on a waiting list and said they would call if they had space available. Well, on the sea day we still hadn't heard from them so we went to the Spa and asked and low and behold, they found room for both of us in the afternoon. I doubt they would have called-and probably the only reason we got them was we went and asked. With that said, we both enjoyed our massages very much. Extremely relaxing and product was never mentioned once. They did try to sell us on more services-but that was fine. Our friends signed up for numerous facials and for the most part were happy with the experience.

#20 Gambling: I didn't use the casino at all but my husband donated a some money in a slot machine and then on the 3 handed poker. The casino is very tiny, and except on the days when they do a "non smoking night" it can be quite smoky. The casino was never very full-of course, as I mentioned earlier, everyone is in bed by 9:00! A few people said they lost money, a couple said they came out okay. Just not much action. My husband really like Texas Hold'em and would have played a lot if they offered it. However, we did play Bingo-and that's not normally something we do. But with 3 sea days and the chance to win $1,000 for a $30 investment made some sort of sense. Plus, if you have friends doing it, it is even more fun. Especially when you win $125!!!!!

#21 Currency Exchange: Do you have to get local money? No. We never went to the bank or used the ATM but I almost wished we had. While every place took US dollars, you did not get the best exchange rate. One place actually gave us 70 to $1 even though the posted exchange rate was supposed to be closer to 80 to $1. But if you don't have the French currency, you must pay whatever they ask. Lots of places did take credit cards but we won't know what that exchange rate went through at until we get our bills. In the future, I would get local currency right from the beginning. (I heard at the airport the ATM gives a great exchange rate. Just do it in the beginning and then you can take advantage of the local prices.

#22 Kids. I think I saw only 5 children on the ship the entire time-and most were French families. I can't imagine bringing any children on this ship-there would be little for them to do with others their own age.

Final Thoughts: This trip was a great way to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We didn't do any vow renewal or ceremony and that was fine for us. As I mentioned, the weather could have been better-but it would/could have been much warmer. As it was, the weather was pleasant and comfortable all the time. Some of the fondest memories are with old and new friends-along with a couple of the excursions that will stand out in our minds forever. I have tons of photos and a unique and beautiful pearl necklace to remember it all with. Less


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