This was our Third Cruise on Princess and 16th for me overall. We booked this one while on the Caribbean Princess in 1/07 to take advantage of the On Board Credits of $100pp and small deposit required.
We travelled from Michigan through LAX overnight and then the 8 Hours to Papeete. Long haul, but worth every second of the trip. We stayed two nights Pre-Cruise at the ICH in Tahiti booked through Princess. Beautiful Hotel, great Panoramic Room but be prepared as everything in Polynesia is expensive compared to the US$ especially.
We used Princess Transfers,but would probably do on our own if I did this again. Things went smoothly, but just takes more time with large bus load of people.
We boarded Ship on Tuesday the 8th about Noon and hit buffet to start the ball rolling. Could not get into Cabin until 1:30 so talked with fellow passengers and those getting off that day too. This Cruise is different in that those getting off that day can stay on board, eat in buffet, etc until leaving for their late evening flights out. First night on Board is open seating at either 6:00 or 8:15 but neither was crowded in that many are still arriving late that evening.
Wednesday was still in Tahiti, did some shopping and bought a beautiful Flower arrangement for our Cabin at Le Marche ( Market) for only $17.00. Flowers, fruit and maybe Beer are about the only things reasonable on the Islands.
We had a great group of CC people on our Roll Call and 16 of us showed up for Sail away. We had pre-arranged for 9 of us to sit together for dinner also. With a small ship you see people many times over the ten days and really get to know a lot of people and our CC Group was the core of many good times. Nice Polynesian Dance show on board tonight also.
Day Three was Huanine and we had pre-booked a Snorkel, Pearl Farm, and Motu Picnic with Marc's on line. Had some CC people in the tour also, and this was the highlight of the whole Cruise. Can not describe the colors of the water and the clarity. Have been all over the Caribbean and Hawaii but have never seen anything that compares to French Polynesia. There was a late show tonight for second seating diners.
Day four and six were at Sea to and from Raratonga ( Cook Islands). Only problem I had with the size of the ship was when you go for a "walk about" the ship, it only takes about 5 minutes. Beautiful ship but would not want to spend too many Sea Days aboard. Day Four was the first Formal Night and the show was late.
Food was excellent throughout the Cruise as was Service from Simona and her assistant and our table of 9 CC'ers was a real treat and added to a great cruise.
Day five was in Raratonga in the Cook Islands and we made it ashore. Tendering here can be a problem and often times the Seas are too rough but not an issue this day. You tender on this Cruise at all but two ports, but with only 670 passengers, we never had to wait more than a couple minutes to go ashore or back. Muri Lagoon Sail, snorkel and Motu Picnic ( PRincess Tour) was very good, the group size was not bad, but always larger on a ships tour than a private one. New Zealand Dollar vs US is better rate so not a bad place to shop here.
Day Six was second Sea Day.
Day Seven was at Raiatea: This is a dock stop and an overnight stay. We did a ships tour - 2 hour snorkel trip which was very good and only about 10 of us on the tour. Do not miss the Children of Raiatea Show on board at 5:00 - wonderful and the Adult Polynesian Show that evening was great too. Island night on board and can buy a Lai from locals on board for $5. The Club Bar by the dining room is a great place to have a pre-dinner drink and Isabella the bartender was wonderful.Day Eight we sailed in the morning and arrived in Bora Bora at noon for an overnight anchoring. Do not miss the sail into Bora Bora as you will never see more beautiful water in your life. Undescribable!
Day nine: We did Damien's Circle Island Tour and Snorkel, pre-arranged on line. Another small group of ten and a wonderful trip with a lot of knowledge passed on about the Islands formation and customs. Highly recommend this trip and you may be able to book at dock for second day as he is there with a little booth set up as you get off the tender. Also make sure you make at least a drink stop at Bloody Mary's Bar near Matiera Beach. Worth the visit, just watch the drink prices here and elsewhere in Polynesia. Some can be very pricey! Second formal night was tonight as was the Captain's Circle Party at 5:30. Too early on a Sea day so we missed it. Lobster night tonight too.
Day 10 was in Moorea: Here we pre-arranged an AVis Car on line and toured around the whole Island, be sure to hit Belvedere Lookout in the morning for a wonderful view and stop at the Jam Stand on the way up or back. Try the Pineapple/Coconut Jam, great stuff. Final dinner tonight in the dining room and bags were asked to be put out by 10:00pm.
Day 11: Out of room by 9:00 but could check carry on in Steakhouse for the day. Took a taxi to Point Venus - Black Sand Beach and view above of the bay where the HMs Bounty Anchored, driver gave us a history lesson along the way. Lounged on ship and ate in the buffet while waiting for airport time to come along. Strongly suggest taking taxi on your own vs Ships buses. Leave by 6:00 to get there and avoid long lines in a hot humid terminal. This was for the 10:00 ATN Flight to LAX.
All in all a great Cruise I would love to do again, travel is brutal, but people on the Islands, the multi blue colored water and the views are worth it. Our CC Roll Call Group was one of the best ever, small but a real joy to spend time with. Also met many others on board, on the flight over and at the ICH that we toured with, ate with and enjoyed time with throughout our adventure. If you get the chance, see Polynesia. Princess will be switching this cruise to the Pacific PRincess in 09, sister ship to the Tahitian which will change names to the Ocean Princess. Maybe our Tahitian Princess stamp will become a collector's item?