We took this luxury cruise vacation with high expectations, due to the many reviews on this board. For the most part it was a wonderful, exotic experience that I am so glad we were able to add to our list! HOWEVER, just as a previous reviewer, I do not sugar coat things, and pretty much "Shoot from the Hip" so to speak. So here in my "list format" is my review.
The flight to Papeete was top quality! The food was fantastic, the coffee was very nice! The air crew was very attentive. The only glitch was going thru immigration. It took about 1.5 hours to clear all of the passengers. We were near the head of the line, and got thru pretty quickly, but our friends were near the back...
Check-in on the PG was very organized. Having said that I will add that it wasn't "minutes" as I had read on the boards. It took about a half an hour from the time we stepped onboard until the time we were in our room. The staff was nice, and attentive, no doubt. It just took some time to process everyone.
Our 4th floor window cabin I would rate as excellent! It was very clean, nicely decorated, and there was more than enough storage. The large bathtub/shower was an outstanding feature. It was a nice touch to tell the cabin staff what we wanted stored in the fridge, and have it refilled regularly.
Breakfast at Le Grille was awesome every morning! It was great to be able to sit outdoors and eat, while enjoying the amazing scenery. The food was SO good! I loved the local fresh fruit. It always seemed that the strawberries had some little pieces of leaves that I had to pick out tho. Just an FYI...the pineapple was canned. The ability to walk right in and sit was nice. At breakfast in La Veranda you could choose to have lamb shanks. My DH liked that!
We only had lunch a few times onboard as we were mostly off the ship at that time, but it was also buffet-style. It was good when we were there. Once we ate lunch in La Veranda, and sat at a table that had placemats for 2. We were a table of 4, and the waiter seemed very unhappy that he had to set 2 additional places.
Dinner at Le Etoille was very nice! I liked that you had options to sit alone or with others every nite. It was nice to not have to make reservations. The food was AMAZING! Every meal was handsomely plated. Every dish was delicious. ALL of the soups were superb. The wait staff were attentive, tho I saw that many of them looked stressed at times. Many times I did not see smiles on their faces. The water glasses were always kept filled. The wine flowed freely. I did ask for a cheese plate on 3 different nites(I saw this mentioned by a CC poster) because I love gourmet cheeses. I felt like I asked for too much. After the 3rd nite I stopped asking because I felt like it was too out of the ordinary to impose the request. I didn't like that we were only allowed to eat at La Veranda only one nite onboard. It turns out that I didn't care for that restaurant very much anyway(staffwise, not because of the food), but I would have liked to have tried it a few more times. As another poster stated, at least 25% of the tables were empty on the nite that we were in La Veranda. The wine glasses were filled very quickly, so that was nice...but I was drinking iced tea, and my glass sat empty for quite awhile before I finally decided to flag a waiter down to refill it. Overall, I thought the service at Le Etoille was much better. The ambiance of La Veranda was very nice. We had 1 dinner at Le Grille. It was a windy and rainy nite. This was perhaps my favorite meal onboard! We sat outside and were able to experience a storm while eating one of the best meals I have EVER had! I had the Jumbo Prawn and they were just about the most superb I have had in my life! I wish we would have been able to go back to Le Grille for dinner but it wasn't to be...if there is a next time I will go twice to Le Grille and skip La Veranda.
Cabin Staff: Nice young lady. Smiled the first day, but as the week moved forward, she didn't seem very happy. She threw out my 3 lei's without asking me if it was OK. I loved the smell of the fresh flowers as I walked in the cabin, so I was surprized to see them gone. I knew they were getting a little wilted, but I think I should have been asked about this.
Ship-Roll: ...Is a REAL concern. Seems that this ship sits high in the water, and so in the open ocean there is a considerable rolling of the ship. It might be wise to be prepared for some motion sickness...whether you are prone to it or not. It doesn't matter what season it is, FYI!!!
Highlights: Motu Day 3. GREAT fun and amazing BBQ!
Patricks Tour on Day 4. I don't think Patrick leads the tour anymore. YES it was a great day, but the guide wasn't great, just very good.
Mark Eddowes Tour on Moorea. I really like to hear about the history of places we visit, and he was VERY GOOD-kind of on the kooky side, but good!
Post-Cruise day: The bus tour was just OK. We did get to see the town of Papeete, which was nice, but next time I would probably skip this. The Radisson was elegant! Very nice set-up for the PG'ers waiting for the plane.
HOWEVER, the food was outrageously priced, as has been mentioned by others. I saw a Snickers bar priced at 4USD! Maybe the PG could give out sack dinners???? The airport was a zoo to fly out! Long lines as has been posted on this board. The terminal was extremely loud. A big plane drive right up to gate 60, and the sound of the engines totally encompassed the room! Anyways...
Overall, I would tend to agree that the PG was a luxury experience, but nothing is perfect. It was certainly a top-rated cruise in my opinion. There are numerous reasons that I would choose to go on a PG cruise again, but there are so many other places to see in this world...