By Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor
Ti'a Moana, the 226-foot luxury yacht commissioned for Nomade Yachting in Tahiti -- which started the Bora Bora Cruises division -- presents the ultimate in contemporary design, elegance and pampering. Sleek and shining, the 2003 yacht was built by Austral shipbuilders in Australia and arrived with four passenger decks, 18 staterooms, two suites, an onboard spa and library, a restaurant, two bars and several lounges. The ship sails between the Society Islands of Tahiti's Leeward chain for six star-filled nights and seven beach-filled days.
The staterooms are all outside and are designed in a crisp, minimalist fashion. Clean lines, subtle colors, artistic touches and high-quality appointments form the basis for the rooms, all of which feature air conditioning, mini-bars, fridges, in-suite baths with showers, hair dryers and flat-screen televisions with CD and DVD players. The two Bora Bora suites include separate sitting areas, two bathrooms each, two "dressing closets," original Polynesian artwork and butler-served breakfasts.
Each of the passenger decks provides relaxation areas, offering airy rattan-and-wicker Bali beds. Anapa Deck, on the top of the yacht, is where you'll find the hot tub, day beds and lounge bar; a movie screen is set up on some evenings for entertainment under the stars. On Vavau Deck -- the bridge deck -- is the Terrace, filled with sofas and tables for dining, relaxing or conversation. The two Bora Bora suites are also located on this deck. On Uporo Deck are the library, bar, lounge and terrace, as well as another hot tub. On Hava'i -- the main deck -- are reception, the restaurant, a small gym and the spa. The Tumama Deck is a floating marine platform when the boat is docked.
All meals and snacks (but not liquor, wine or bottled water) are included, and meals can be served anytime, anywhere. Cuisine is prepared from fresh regional ingredients and is French with a touch of Polynesian. Sample lunch items might include a spring salad with smoked duck breast or catch of the day or butcher's choice with a selection of sauces: Tomato, Lime, Shallot or Five-peppers butter. Supper menus tend to be fancier, featuring multiple courses. A sample supper would be scallops carpaccio with citrus fruit dressing, papaya and sweet potato soup, roasted venison fillet, prunes and lime cracked wheat… finished with a cappuccino and creme brulee. Picnic lunches and elaborate suppers are also served on the various "motus" (small, uninhabited islands) that the yacht visits. Breakfasts can be elaborately served in the restaurant, presented in a cozy corner of one of the terraces or served in-stateroom.
The journey is relaxed and sun-filled, with slow sailings to each of the stops. There are no rigorous activities (unless passengers choose to hike around Fetuna during the ship's call in Raiatea). This is a cruise for the bikini-and-caftan crowd; only during supper do guests have to shed swimwear and appear "country-club casual."
The yacht holds a maximum of 40 passengers, and there are 43 crewmembers.