The first two times in teh South Pacific, we were on the Tahitian Princess and the one port outside of the Society Islands was Rarotonga. After a day at sea to get there, and back, it was a big disappointment that water conditions didn't allow us to disembark. Now Princess goes to Rangiroa in the Touamotu chain for the stop outside the Society islands. It was a great move on their part. What a magical destination! It's just too bad that they have cut back their year round sailing to just a couple months late in the year.
We add land time before because of the long flight and the possibility of delays, which has worked in our favor each time. Embarkation has gone very quick and easy every time and the Princess embarkation staff gets very high marks for helpful and friendly service. Our cabin has always been ready on arrival.
Onboard, most staff is great, but they are pushing a lot of sales; the soda club, the coffee club, etc. That fades after day 1. During the cruise they offer a couple wine tasting events that are VERY nice and a dinner with the chef that puts you in the kitchen during the rush hour and then eating with the chef. A great opportunity for those intrigued by food prep. We had the early dinner, which has pros and cons. You need to rush a bit after the days activity, but you can see the sunset or fading island from the window if your lucky enough to have a table with a view. The early seating gives time to digest while watching a show or star gazing, hit the buffet for a light bedtime snack and relax in your cabin with plenty of time to get enough sleep to be out on the balcony to watch the ship pass through the barrier reef of the island of the day. We have coffee, juice, crosiants and yogurt delivered to our balcony around 7 every morning. It's magical. We prefer the poolside grill for lunch and the dining room for dinner. This time, the dining room was especially enjoyed. In past cruises we never even knew who the head waiter was, but this trip our head waiter took the time to stop at our table every night and share options and light conversation. Our waiter and jr waiter were a married couple and were great fun.
Disembarkation is early, 8am. They offer storage for carry on luggage and allow you to stay on the ship all day with full access to everything but a cabin. It's very gracious since the flight don't leave until 10pm and 11:30pm. The airport checkin moves very slow, a couple elderly folks in line were close to passing out. Bring water and a hand fan, you will need it. If you can stay a few days extra, it's a great extension to the relaxation and magic of the area and a good way to miss the huge crowd at the airport.