I booked this cruise a year out for my husband's signature birthday(he likes to keep the number quiet) This is our 8th Princess cruise and only the second without our teen, young adult kids. We flew from Toronto to LA and spent a night at an airport hotel, we then flew to Papeete the next day and stayed overnight at the Radisson Resort in Tahiti, the flights and resort were booked as a package via expedia. The flight was on Air Tahiti Nui and service was wonderful, just like in the old days of flying. The Radisson was a lovely hotel but half empty, the bar closed at 9 pm. We had breakfast in the restaurant next morning, talk about dreamlike setting. We knew not to order the buffet as it was pricey and had ala carte items for approx $15 each. We then took a taxi to the ship and embarked at 1130. Embarkation was swift and we explored and had buffet lunch while waiting for our cabin to be ready at 1330. This was the first time we had sailed on a smaller ship and absolutely loved it.The Tahitian holds just under 700 passengers and 300 crew. It took minutes to find our way around and liked what we saw very much. The library was gorgeous with an excellent selection of recently published books. Our cabin was an aft, we had previously had an aft cabin and loved it so chose this again. Once I had booked it I was a little concerned as it was reported on CC that it was noisy below the buffet dining room but we only every heard one or two noises and they never bothered us. The wake noise was wonderful, much gentler than the Grand class ships. The room was adequate for the 2 of us with lots of space and was spotlessly clean, our steward introduced himself, our requests were few and they were immediately met. I loved the position of the cabin as we only had to go up one deck to the bar, cups of tea and the pool.
The ship was in extremely good repair, the crew was the best we had encountered, always so friendly and helpful,nothing was too much trouble. This was the first time we had traditional dining, I'm not a huge fan. We had asked for a table for 2 on late seating. On the first night we were placed on a table for 4, the couple we were with were very nice but they had wanted to be on a large table. The Maitre'd' was very helpful and always present, on our last cruise in August we never saw him. The next night we were placed on a table for 2 right next to a table for 6, unfortunately that table had a young lady on it who had verbal diarrhea at loud decibels, having to listen to her drivel drove us nuts and it gave hubby earache, how the other members of the table stood her for 10 nights I don't know. By the third night we had met quite a few members of our roll call and were invited to share a table for 4 with another couple from Toronto (thanks Katie and Bill) We had a blast with them and enjoyed their company very much. The food was good to very good in the dining room. We used the buffet for breakfast and most lunches when we were on board, it was certainly adequate and the food fresh, we never went hungry. We never used room service this trip. The entertainment was not really very good but the ship was nearly dead by about 11pm at night, the demographics were alot of honeymooners and older couples. There was only one child, she was from our Roll call. The best of the entertainment were the folkloric shows, they were superb. There was one in Tahiti and two in Riatea, one of which was preformed by children which was very entertaining. These were all local entertainers brought onto the ship and were part of many highlights of this trip. There was plenty of entertainment, just none that appealed to us. The excursions were all private ones, most of which we booked prior to going or picked up on shore, They mostly all consisted of snorkeling and each trip was unique. The first one (Patricks' Safari) in Tahiti had been coincidentally booked by all roll call members and was great, we learnt alot about the flora, fauna and geography of FP and also got to know people we had been corresponding with all year. We ended by swimming in a river pool. I would highly recommend this excursion. We had booked Marc's Huahine picnic and met even more members of the roll call. This trip was one of the best days we spent on the cruise. It was so natural and uncommercialized and the food was excellent. In rangiroa we picked up a snorkeling at the pier, it was fun but quite pricey at $50 for 1.5 hours snorkeling at a motu. In Riatea alot of our roll call picked up a river cruise and motu snorkel, this was fun. In each of the islands it seemed the snorkeling was a little different. On Bora Bora we shared a boat with our table companions, this was booked by them previously. This was another highlight, we saw dolphins frolicking around us, swam with sharks, went to different areas of the island to snorkel and swam in a coral garden. We had a round trip around the island with all the sights ect pointed out. This was a 4 hour hire and was wonderful In Moorea I had previously booked a snorkeling and motu picnic tour with Albert's Tours. I heard negative things about this after booking but it was really good, you can also pick up this tour at the pier but don't get lunch, just fruit and water. WE swam with sharks, stingrays and had a lovely lunch with whale sightings just outside the reef. This was truly a dream vacation. I am not a watersports fan, not even a very good swimmer but spent every day in the water and loved it. The islands seemed to get even more beautiful as we went on, the people truly lovely and seemed to quite like tourists too. I hope I will have a chance to take this trip again