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217 Ocean Princess Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise and a celebration of our 25th anniversary. We were very impressed with most of the cruise staff, particularly the dancers (who also take side duties during the day) and wait staff at the two upper level ... Read More
This was our first cruise and a celebration of our 25th anniversary. We were very impressed with most of the cruise staff, particularly the dancers (who also take side duties during the day) and wait staff at the two upper level restaurants. The special dining provided a very high level of service well worth the minimal added cost. Don't eat all day if you plan to dine at Sabatini's -- yet it's an Italian meal you shouldn't miss. A few minor problems. (1) Our cabin was an 8th floor over-sized suite designed for handicap passengers (which we are not) and the shower tended to flood the entire bathroom floor. Must use beach towels to contain the water;(2) ship did not carry local currency for Roratonga, which meant we had to waste some time at a local bank (local currency needed to buy gas for rental car); (3) no plug-ins near bed for 110-volt (U.S. standard) and had to borrow an extension cord; and (4) our dinner wait staff for Table 10 was not overly attentive and quite average. We met great people on the cruise from all over the world. This included Malcolm and Gill from England, Mike and Jo from New Zealand, and Martin and Nichole from Switzerland. We did our own thing at each port and enjoyed the freedom to choose what we wanted to do. Given the smaller size of the ship, some rocking is inevitable on the open water legs. Yet, the smaller size of the ship makes it possible to get to know the wonderful staff. This ship has an excellent cruise director, Chris, who made the cruise an unforgettable experience. Entertainment included native dancers, a comic, and cruise ship dancers -- we enjoyed the native dancers from Riaitea the most. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
This was a long long trip.. Round trip from the Southeastern U.S. 16,000+ miles...However, the 17 hrs to Papeete, actually where fairly easy. We were 1st class to LAX, and then Air Tahiti, which was a new Airbus, coach was fine (if you ... Read More
This was a long long trip.. Round trip from the Southeastern U.S. 16,000+ miles...However, the 17 hrs to Papeete, actually where fairly easy. We were 1st class to LAX, and then Air Tahiti, which was a new Airbus, coach was fine (if you have not been on a big Airbus,there are no individual air outlets, everyone gets central airflows, There where some very very cold spots on the plane. One lady was wrapped in a blanket and later got out a windbreaker and she was still cold). After such a long day you would think Princess would try to make the boarding a breeze, they didn't, 2 1/2 hrs from deplaning to our room...NOT A FUN TIME. Long Time Travelers, be advised this is ONE Small ship. Yes, you get to know a lot of people over 12 nights, But the lack of variety of things to do at night and sea days soon takes it toll on you. The show room is like a side showbar in Vegas. NO Stage, everyone is on the same level and VERY CLOSE...seats are just A "Captain Type chair" side by side. One problem was that the ship sailed so early every day like 4:00 & 4:30 why? most of these Southern Tahitian islands are only a few miles apart, most of the other ships stayed all night. Seems they could have sailed every night at midnight and still be at the next port by 9:00 or so. We had very squally and windy weather all the days down south,we were 12 hours late leaving Raiatea, and 6 hours late arriving Bora Bora. Five days from Bora bora to Hilo were nice and the weather got better the farther North we got. Crossing the Equator was a big deal, the crew threw a party and also threw the captain in the pool (pager and all). Christmas Island (GREAT). Be sure and get the 1st Tender. there are only 2 shore tours 1 is bird watching (boring), but the other is a snorkel trip $20.00 person(that's not a typo), but she can only take 10-12 people and only does one trip..first come first serve. If you miss these two trips, there is nothing to do but sweat. We did the Snorkel and the captain took us out to swim with Dolphins and there were 100s -- he pulls you along the side of the out rigger boat and the dolphins come to you....YOU WILL NEVER NEVER SEE ANYTHING LIKE THIS ANY WHERE_ We rented a car at Hilo (with a GPS) went to the Volcano, and 2 waterfalls..+ a stop at Wal-Mart and Hilo Hatties.. Maui we snorkeled at the Molokini crater excellent.If Princess makes your air plans and you have a late afternoon flight out of Honolulu, they have a day-room set up at a hotel on Waikiki beach where they bus you and guard your luggage until time to go to the airport Our balcony room was great. The room steward was excellent...The dining room food was typical Cruise ship stuff....Good, but want knock your socks off....Because the ship is SO small, everything is close, we were on deck 7 two flights up too the pool & buffet..and two flights down to the dining room , casino, shops...so we walked a lot. All and all it's was a good trip, we liked the Hawaiian islands a lot more than the tahiti part..... ps.. I forgot on Raiatea, you must do the pearl farm snorkel trip educational and lots of fish..... aloha Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
I found this website very helpful while planning my Honeymoon. Some of the information was not as accurate as I had hoped so I wanted to clarify a few details. A quick read through the list of reviews will give anyone a good idea of what ... Read More
I found this website very helpful while planning my Honeymoon. Some of the information was not as accurate as I had hoped so I wanted to clarify a few details. A quick read through the list of reviews will give anyone a good idea of what to expect from this cruise. However, the reader will need a point of reference to judge the subjective opinion of the cruiser. I found it important to look at how many cruises & what cruise lines the review writer has been on. For my wife and I, this honeymoon cruise was our 5th. We have been on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Disney & Carnival. I read that many reviews mentioned that the staterooms were "big". My wife & I had a Balcony room & found this to be absolutely not true! The rooms are no bigger or smaller than any other Balcony room we have stayed in. We normally upgrade to a Balcony but not a suite when we cruise so I feel that our opinion is more accurate because we always get the same category of room. The food was no better, and if anything, our least favorite of all the cruises we have been on. There was not one meal that we thought was any better than basic cafeteria food. We ate at every possible location for every meal to "try" everything. The bread and baked goods were fine but tasted like "day old". The Pizza and Hamburgers were bland. Even the Ice cream tasted "cheep"! But, the biggest (scam, frustration, business decision ... I can't decide on the adjective!) were the drinks. I may be exaggerating but I felt like I had a choice of Water, Orange juice, Cranberry juice, coffee or tea - only during meals & then only Water, Coffee & Tea outside of meal hours. I bought the "coke" card. I got the smallest glass, filled with ice and a tablespoon of coke in it. I asked for a can. A can is not included in the "Coke Card" deal. I would have to stand at the bar asking for a refill nonstop for an hour to get the equivalent of a can of coke. I did not want to give up that much time re-filling my glass so I bought a can. The coffee on the other hand is the worst I have ever tasted! Never hot and always terrible! It did not matter if it was morning noon or night the coffee was consistently horrible! If I walked around the corner to the coffee bar & purchased a coffee; that tasted great! We ate at the "specialty" restaurants (where you have to pay a basic fee per person - I can't remember... maybe $20 per person?) and found that the food was marginally better, kind of like the quality of a good Denny's. Nothing wrong with the food or the service just not memorable. My wife & I coined a new "catch phrase" while on this cruise... When we get up a leave the table we look at each other & ask ... was that worth the calories?? Neither of us answered yes all cruise long! The last "issue" I had with other reviews (that I though was inaccurate) relates to the comfort of the boat. In other words how smooth the cruise was. This is a VERY subjective area because some people get motion sick very easily & others not at all! I even had debates with other cruisers during the cruise about this issue. I thought the boat (wobbled, rocked, bobbed, moved... you pick the adjective!) too much. Some of my fellow cruisers though I was being a baby! Can you imagine the conversation (debate) - "You think this is rough... you have not seen rough! The last cruise I was on...blah, blah, blah" Do you get the picture? Let's just say that the boat was rocking enough so that you could not walk down the hallway straight and when I looked at the ocean there was not a single white cap!! Every time I looked overboard; no white caps!! A beautiful smooth Ocean and yet this little boat rocks like crazy!! Glasses don't go flying of your dinner table or anything like that it is just rough enough to make a person (especially a queasy person) very uncomfortable & it got irritating! My post script (PS) "issue" is with any review that mentions money!! That is the most subjective topic of all. Tahiti is expensive!! PERIOD!! Don't go if money is tight because you won't have a good time & you will end up writing a review full off cliches & comments focusing on your interpretation of "value received for dollars spent". It is not only expensive it is ridiculously expensive at times - OK? Understand? Tahiti = expensive. This Princess cruise is the cheapest way to see where Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman holiday. I won't bother telling you that I did Marc's tour or Bruno's tour & don't miss the children of Rataia etc, etc. This board is full of that information & I found no "issue" with those recommendations. Most of them are very informative & helpful so you don't need me to repeat all that information. I want to close by saying to anyone who has not been to Tahiti (see financial comments above) that the people are great, the lagoons are like nothing you will ever see in your life & that there IS something "magical" about this place, so if you can swing it, GO! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
A little something of ourselves and the trip. We were on the Tahitian Princess for the 15Aug06 sailing and have mixed feelings about the ship and the ports. We have been on the Sun, Diamond, and Star and prefer the size of the Sun. We like ... Read More
A little something of ourselves and the trip. We were on the Tahitian Princess for the 15Aug06 sailing and have mixed feelings about the ship and the ports. We have been on the Sun, Diamond, and Star and prefer the size of the Sun. We like going into ports rather than sea days. We were unable to tender at Rarotonga. Although, many have said that Rarotonga is worth the risk of not getting there, the rough seas and three sea days makes me wonder if I would try the route again (probably not). We have mixed feelings about staying in the OWB post-cruise at the IC on Tahiti, too. We chose to use Princess air and their cruise plus packages on this trip. I would not do that again unless the money saved is too large to ignore. We had nine hours in airport waits on our return and the OWB is overrated. The over-water-bungalows look great on the travel posters (my fantasy), but what really determines the OWB value is the resort and its location. I will review the Intercontinental Resort near the end. We departed PDX early on the 15th on Alaska Airlines and arrived in LAX about 08:45. The terminal Alaska uses is next to the TBIT so the walk was short. There were no lines at the Air Tahiti Nui (ATN) desk and we went to the first agent. They did have separate lines for the different flights when the day gets busy. We were done with check-in at 09:30. The TBIT is almost deserted that time of day, but the baggage scanning lines were still very long (our bags were checked through). We had breakfast in the food court and went through the checkpoint at 11:00. LAX has a problem with too many flights for the number of gates, so our gate was a holding area from where we were bused to the remote terminal. The flight was one hour late taking off, but most of that time was made up on the flight over and we arrived only a few minutes late. The coach seats were narrow, the cabin temperature was sub-freezing, and the taste of the food was sub-par. The service on ATN was good though making several trips through the cabin with liquids. This was our 25th Wedding Anniversary and drinking champagne really made the flight special. We arrived in PPT at 18:45, it was dark, hot, humid, and the customs line went outside and was very slow. Maybe if the plane wasn't so cold the weather wouldn't have felt so hot. They had a small band playing native music while we waited in line, a nice touch. DO NOT lose the small white receipt the customs agent gives you and there is a guide to filling out the forms in the ATN flight magazine. We used Princess transfers and by 20:45 we were on our way to the ship. Embarkation on the Tahitian was Fast. Surrender passport (with the receipt), credit card imprint, sign the card, and go. The food trucks were in the yard by the ship and it really looked inviting, but we had problems with the room (the room was very dirty and didn't look like it had been cleaned) and were too tried to go off-ship once everything was fixed. We talked with people that ate from the trucks and were told the food was very tasty. The boneless leg of lamb we had in the buffet was very good. All excursions, except the Dolphin Experience on Moorea were through Princess. We've read too many horror stories to journey far on our own. We chose to take morning swim/snorkel excursions, because we had heard the wind picks up in the afternoon. THE EXCURSIONS and more: 16Aug06. Spent the day in Papeete shopping. The Marche was a fun place to shop in. Good price on flowers and souvenirs. No excursions were taken this day. The sail away party with the CC members was the best we had. Our cabin was next to another roll call member and we would say Hi to each other or talk about the day's adventure. 17Aug06. Huahine: Lagoon, Beach, and Motu Picnic. This is a good simple way to start off a cruise. The picnic was mainly chicken and salad. The Polynesian show was small, but nicely done. Poor for snorkeling, but the water and beach were clean, clear, and relaxing. We really liked the undeveloped nature of this island. Was it worth the price? Probably not, but fun just the same. The locals came on board in the afternoon and the prices for the crafts were very good. 18-20Aug06. Rarotonga: We were unable to tender due to rough seas. One day to get there, half day in trying to tender, and one day to return. We read many reviews and knew this was a low percentage port, but felt it was worth the try (versus the Marguesas route). 21-22Aug06. Bora Bora: Normally we would have been in Raiatea, but strong winds and technical problems prevented docking. The captain decided to make for Bora Bora and return later to Raiatea. Another problem here was the boat that Princess contracts with for the catamaran tours. It had problems and the tours were cancelled. There were not many Princess tours left. We did have reservations for the Sunset and Lagoon Catamaran tours. Day-1 Highlights of Bora Bora. Ten years ago this would have been a beautiful drive, but with all the construction and development I wish we had gone for a swim instead. This excursion did include a stop at Bloody Mary's, which is a wonderful place. The bloody marys are very good, too. There are private taxis and vans at the pier that will take you to Bloody Mary's for $5.00. Do not take this tour if you have a Sunset Cruise excursion during their winter, the sun sets early and the drive does not get you back in time. We know this for a fact. Day-2 Snorkel Safari & Ray Ballet. This excursion was worth every penny. The Ray Ballet included a few sharks and about 20 rays. Bring water shoes. The Snorkel Safari stop is at a coral garden and is beautiful. There were so many different fish. Bring fins. The steps getting back into the boat were up high and not easy to get on. 23Aug06 Raiatea Morning: Raiatea Snorkeling. The description says for beginners, but don't believe it. We stopped first in about 4 feet of water and swam around from the boat. We next went to the shipping channel to swim around the drop-off. I won't call it advanced, but being given a vest and asked to go into 200 feet of water gave me the creeps. I'm not new to snorkeling, but this was the first time I couldn't see bottom and I didn't like it. The fish were beautiful though and I would recommend this excursion. Experienced snorkelers would probably like the Drift Snorkel trip better. Evening: Motu Ofetaro Feast and Show. This was absolutely great. The food and the children made it a wonderful evening. We got caught in a down pour on our return to the ship, but that is quickly forgotten when we remember how the youngest child was directing the older children on where to stand or how to dance. Well worth the cost. Going on this excursion meant missing the children dancers that came on board the ship at 17h30. 24Aug06 Moorea: Dolphin Experience. We had to do this on our own, because Princess was sold-out. We were on the Princess waiting list for a short while before deciding to reserve a different time slot through the Center on our own. We, also, did not know that Princess had made other arrangements for more shows through the Dolphin Center. Our time slot was 13h30 (or 13:30 or 1:30pm). You check in first at the boutique 30 minutes before show time, then go down to the dolphin tanks with a stamped receipt. The boutique is in the water activities area near the beach (through lobby and to the left) and the tanks are down and to the right. Even if you book this through Princess you will need to find your own transportation. We took a taxi there and shared a taxi coming back. I really don't know how people going in at 14h30 had time to change, look at pictures, and taxi back before the last tender at 16h00. I think we were on the second to last tender and our show was one hour before Princess' last group. What you get: a 30 minute intro into dolphins, 15 minutes touch, hold, hug, pictures, and then 15 minutes of watching jumps in the deep tank. WE LOVED THIS EXCURSION! The picture of my wife kissing the dolphin says it all. The center has a program at 14h30 if you want to hold onto the dolphin while it swims around the tank. Strongly suggest arriving early and using the InterContinental's pool or just lay around. Fancy bar drinks cost $10-$15. This place is beautiful. 24Aug06 Tahiti: Yep, back at the dock around 20h00. We had final diner with our wonderful and dear table-mates. Never did make it to those food trucks. Our suitcases were out by 22h00 and another day in paradise comes to a close. Disembarkation: 25Aug06 Tahiti: Since we were transferring to the IC we stayed close to the buffet until 12h30 when we went to the Cabernet Lounge to wait for our 13h00 standby time. The gangway to get off is on deck 3, forward. Our color was called about 13h15 and off we went. We walked to the end of the pier, pointed to our bags, and they were picked up and transferred to the IC. About five other couples were transferred at the same time. THE SHIP: The Tahitian Princess could be a very beautiful ship. Our room was very nice. Some of the public areas and our cabin were showing signs of wear and the dining room chairs were well worn. I used the exercise room three times and did not have to wait for equipment, but I went in the evenings. I believe there were five treadmills, five bikes (both styles), two ellipticals, hand weights (no free weight bars), and weight apparatuses. Sometimes the music was very loud and I felt sorry for the rooms below. Since the promenade deck does not wrap around the ship, the only walking track is the small track on deck-10. Dining areas and feeding times are very different on this small ship. Buffet: If you get hungry at three in the morning for a ham bun, you won't find it in the buffet. You probably won't find any other passengers up at three in the morning, either (I didn't). The buffet is very different in how it works compared to the larger Princess ships. Pizza and a small pasta dish is served from 18:00 to 23:00, 23:00 to 04:00 the buffet is a sit down bistro with a limited menu, breakfast from 04:00 to 11:00, and 11:30 to 18:00 a regular buffet with pizza-by-the-slice and personal sandwiches. Don't get hungry between 11:00 and 11:30, all the restaurants are closed. B-B-Q: Omelets until 11:00, omelets on the Star stopped at 8 or 9 so this was very nice. Lunch items from 11:30 to 16:00. Hamburgers and sausages were very good. Main Dining Room: The afternoon tea is served most days at 15:00. If you have second seating for dinner, the afternoon tea is prefect timing, plus the food is very good. We used anytime dining on our other cruises, but found that traditional dining was a lot of fun. Our tablemates were great. We had second seating and we did not like eating that late, 20:15. Our next cruise will either be first seating or anytime. Alternative Dining: These we did not use, but did not hear of any complaints. Our overall impression of the food was very good. The chilled soups were my favorite, they were like a dessert. The one item I didn't like was a vegetarian item that they made to look like a pork chop. I really like being able to try different dishes and knowing that if I don't like it I can get something else, having two or three entrees in front of me was not uncommon. We learned that it is much easier to ask for two complete main dinners than to explain that we wanted to mix what was on two separate dinners, plus there was more to share. Cruising is a great way to try foods that you normally wouldn't order, because of cost or availability. I had pheasant on lobster-tail night and was not disappointed at all. Card Room: Used during the day for children. Very small and limited in games available. We found a cribbage board in the library and the cards in the card room. Library: Opened at different hours and for a very, very short time. Check the Patter. Most days were 11:00 to 12:00 and 16:00 to 17:00. Internet Café: We never used this service, but never saw more than three people inside. Lounges: We saw one production number and one comedian, both were very good. The production show was the best one we've seen. Movies were shown in the lounge or on deck, neither were to our liking; there is no theater on board. Spa and salon: Did not use. Kids Stuff: I didn't see very much for the children to do. Younger children had some supervised activities in the card room. There wasn't a Kid's Zone area or room that the larger ships have. All the children on board, but one, were very well behaved and we thank those parents for a peaceful vacation. THE SERVICE and the CABIN: Our room steward was great. Our dining room steward wasn't that great and at times insulting. I thought he was rude, but my wife thought it was his type of humor. The rest of the ship's staff was great; very friendly and helpful. For the first time on a Princess ship I found the pursers desk staff a pleasure to work with. I know others didn't have the same experience, because of the ports missed or rescheduled. The fine print in the Passengers Contract about missing ports probably should be in 20-point print. Our cabin was aft and although the balcony is larger, some of the area is unusable as it's under the railing in a wedge shape space. We really loved the views. The smell of diesel was heavy at times and there was black soot on the table and chairs. I enjoyed the aft quarters, but my wife did not like the engine noise and vibration. We will probably go back to using mid-ship staterooms on our next cruise. We had rough seas going to Rarotonga and believe the aft was better than the forward cabins. One of our table mate couples, in a forward cabin, had to change rooms, because the water splashing on their balcony was leaking through the slider door and soaked their carpet. POST-CRUISE AT THE IC-TAHITI, OWB: The IC (Beachcomber) is an older, but comfortable resort. Our room number was 496 and it was probably the second least desirable motu OWB. The OWB next to us may have been the worst, because I don't think it had a view of Moorea. The water off our deck was so cloudy that I couldn't see the bottom when I snorkeled. We can't compare this IC to other resorts, but it has three items going for it 1) close to the airport; 2) the food, and 3) the Polynesian dinner show. The IC-Tahiti Polynesian dinner show on Friday and Saturday is wonderful. The shows are similar. Getting the $80 buffet will get you better tables (center stage), but the ala carte menu tables aren't bad (didn't sit at the bar tables so can't speak for their view of the show). Friday night buffet is seafood, but the only seafood I saw was the cold split lobster tails, a white fish, and a squid dish. The duck legs in orange sauce, the roast beef with mushroom gravy, and any of the desserts surpassed anything I ate on the TP. We tried to get in the Lotus restaurant, but they were booked on Saturday. We ate ala carte and saw the "Bounty Show", steak sandwich and Coke 2000-CPF. You do not need to spend a lot of money on food if you stay here. There's a store about ¾ of a mile from the lobby that has roasted chickens to-go. There are also the food trucks near the dock that run most of the night (take Le Truck or taxi). The best deal at the Lotus is the formula: cold starter, hot starter, entrée, and dessert for about 10000-CPF (saving about 3000-CPF). The IC has a lagoonarium. This is a good place to practice snorkeling and the selection of fish is very good. Overall, I'd say PPT is just too much city to have a dream OWB experience thus making the $600 per night not a good value. Maybe on Moorea or a Bora Bora motu the $600 would be worth it. We had a good time, just not a great time at this resort. Waiting for our airport transfer made for a long day, but chatting with the other cruisers made the time go by faster. I didn't think at the time that joining the IC Ambassador Club for $150 would be worth the room upgrade and the use of a room before the transfer, but I'm having second thoughts. Arrive at the airport early; the lines are very long for all the airlines. But if you get in line too early, they'll say Sorry. Wait until  and you'll have to do it again. THE RETURN FLIGHTS If our cruise had not been so wonderful the flight back would be reason enough never to return to Tahiti. Remember that I wrote how cold the plane was coming to Tahiti; well this plane had all the heat. Taking off any more clothes would have gotten us thrown off. Airbus planes don't have those adjustable air jets and by the time we landed we were totally exhausted. Princess had us waiting 5 hours in LAX, a flight to Salt Lake City and a 4 hour wait, then the flight home to Portland. We bought the day pass to the Delta club room in LAX and that was a godsend. They had showers, drinks, and soft chairs. There was one chance that we could have tried to get home sooner and that was not to check our bags after customs, but go to another airline counter with our bags with the hopes that they would have a flight available and pay the going price for a one-way ticket. Summary and tips: Tahiti and FP are great and we would go back again, but maybe not a cruise. FP had too many beaches where we just wanted to stay for a view more days. Paying extra for decent flight times is worth every penny. Paying a lot extra for business class may be worth it. We enjoyed the Princess excursions, but didn't hear of anyone having a bad time doing it on their own. Huahine and Moorea would be the islands voted Most Likely To Return To. Our hostess on Huahine said that the PG only stops there once a year; what a loss to those folks (of course, not being at their ports the PGers are probably saying the same thing to us). Be prepared to spend money and lots of it. Being flexible really helped, but having a list of must do's would have kept the priorities in-line (sunset sail on Bora Bora being one). Don't miss the children on ship or motu. And get on a Cruise Critic Roll Call, the folks on these boards are the Greatest. The ratings: Overall- not a 5+, because of missing Rarotonga. Cabin a 4 due to black soot and wear, Entertainment a 4, because no theater, Excursions a 4 due to cancelled and sold-out trips, and Public Rooms a 3, because this ship really needs a vacation in a dry-dock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Tahitian Princess August 5, 2006 Leaving for O'Hare airport at 4am on Aug 4th, we were picked up by A Touch of Class Limousine Service and arrived at 4:45 for our 7am flight. Check in was a breeze as usual at the American Airlines ... Read More
Tahitian Princess August 5, 2006 Leaving for O'Hare airport at 4am on Aug 4th, we were picked up by A Touch of Class Limousine Service and arrived at 4:45 for our 7am flight. Check in was a breeze as usual at the American Airlines terminal. (early flights and e tickets are the best combo). Our bags were checked all the way through so this was the last time we saw our checked bags until we arrived at Papeete. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and were boarding the plane to LAX in no time. We went from Terminal 4 to the Bradley International Terminal (out the door and to the left). ATN is to the left when you walk in; but if you are early or have a layover like we did, it's up the stairs to the limited eateries or main floor for some shopping. Once 3pm rolled around, our plane arrived, we boarded and were off right on time. Arriving in Papeete, we were greeted by a small trio playing Tahitian music and received our first of many Tiara gardenias. We claimed our luggage and were off to find a cab. Once we figured out where to go to get one actually had to ask taxi drivers for a lift. Many were sleeping in their cabs and very low pressure. We were off to the Intercontinental Tahiti. We were checked in, gave our breakfast order to the concierge for the next morning and off to our over water bungalow #495 in no time. We checked out the place and went for a walk around the resort. It was 11pm. I had asked about a late check out and was told to ask in the am before check out. Next morning, we were greeted by one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. The view out of our balcony doors. It was sunrise on the ocean and Moorea in the distance. I got up to watch the sunrise, took a ton of pics. Talk about heaven - I called about 9 for the late check out and told that it would not be possible. Very disappointing. We had breakfast and decided to make the most of what time we had left. My husband decided to go for a swim in the ocean and I went out to see the resort in the daylight. The place is beautiful. Again I took a lot of pics. I got back to our OWB at 10:30 and figured I needed about 10 min to be ready to check out and so I went for a swim too. We called for a porter at 11 on the dot and went to the lobby to check out. Pretty painless process, when we finished with check out they got us a cab and we were off to the port. Embarkation was great, no lines, no waiting. Sign the paper denying any illness, hand over the passports, and sign for our Sea Pass cards and went aboard. It was off to the Panoramic Buffet for a very good lunch and then to our cabin before 1pm. We had cabin 8053, a Jr. suite. We were celebrating our 25th wedding ann. And decided to splurge. It was great. Very spacious, as if you took 3 average cabins, turned them sideways and put them side by side. (hope that helps one visualize the size). The balcony windows run the entire width of the cabin, which granted great views during the cruise. There is also a full size bathtub in the bathroom. This was the largest bathroom we have ever had in a cruise cabin. There is a ton of storage, more than what we needed, and yes, I did overpack. We were then off to explore Papeete. Lots of shopping available if you like that kind of thing. The market is a definite must see. We did buy our $15 flowers and they did make it the entire cruise. We stopped at one of the outside bars for a Hinano, and then back on board for a quick change clothes and were off for dinner. Thanks to the CCer's before me we went to the Roulettes for dinner. What atmosphere, and the food was good. Lots of locals all around eating their dinner too. Nothing touristy, just good food and good company. Back on board just in time for the Tahitian dance show, Hinanos and a Raspberry Breeze from the bar. It was a great show. Again took lots of pics. The next day we caught up on some sleep, had breakfast on the balcony as we did almost every morning and went off to see the boardwalk and parks of Papeete. Once back on board we did the muster and because we had a suite, we were greeted with a glass of champagne and went up on deck for sail away and to meet up with Jan54 and Wish-I-Was-Cruising from Cruise Critic for a birthday drink (my birthday). We had our first ever bad experience in a cruise ship dining room. Our table was very close to the main walkway and my husband was nearly hit in the head more than once. The service was also just terrible. I thought maybe just new but even the headwaiter was rude, to the passengers as well as the servers under him. Just not a good thing. The next day I did something I never thought I would do. I went to the Maitre d' and asked for a new table. He told me it was not possible as there was a 40 person waiting list and there were no possible tables to move us. My response was in a rather quiet voice, that this was our 8th cruise in 4 years - our first with Princess and that I had never experienced such horrible service on a cruise ship (Sounds a bit pompous I know, but it was true). He asked me my cabin number, paused and then said he would see what he could do. He called us back in less than an hour and was able to move us to another table. From that night on, the service was great and everyone had a good time. Kudos and thanks to Lorenzo T. Huahine: Here we did Mark's 4x4 snorkel and picnic tour. The best tour of the trip. Just a great day. Very friendly, great food, good company and a blast. Feeding the Sacred Blue Eyed Eels is a must if you do this tour. Just tuck in your toes and watch your fingers. The picnic in the water is something you would just never think to do in Lake Michigan. After we finished the tour we stopped back by the little place near the tender drop to buy a flower crown, and the woman who had invited us into her garden earlier that morning said that the crowns were sold out, I could not believe it, I said no they could not be all sold out but she repeated again -all gone-. Here comes another lesson in Tahitian grace - I explained to her that we were renewing our wedding vows the next day while at sea she said ohhh and said wait give me 10 minutes sit, you sit take me ten minutes. She and two other ladies who were all having a cup of tea went to the garden and picked flowers and made me a crown. The cost was supposed to be $5 but it was obvious that she was done with her day when we came in and she and the ladies went to some trouble to help make my day more special. We paid her $10. The day at sea, we had reserved the Spa deck and sat and read for a couple of hour. It was very relaxing. Our vow renewal ceremony was beautiful. Victoria from the Guest Relations office had organized the whole thing. Invitations were sent out to friends and the library was closed for our special event. There were boutonnieres for the men and an orchid bouquet for me. Captain P. did the ceremony and there was a Champagne toast to follow. We were given a copy of the vows, a certificate and a copy of the poem he read during the ceremony. They did everything to make it special. R-A-R-O-T-O-N-G-A What a beautiful place. I had thought before we went on this cruise that it seemed ridiculous that they would have a port on the itinerary that they could only get into 50% of the time. But now that we have been, I must say, that it is well worth the risk. The sea was a bit rough, and the tender ride an experience, still the island is beautiful. We rented a scooter for $20 for the day and went around the island. We made stops at Fruits of Rarotonga and Sail's beach club. Lots of fun. Second day at sea, immigration 8:30 - 10:30 and pick up our passports. Cheese burgers for lunch and the Spa deck for sunning. By the way, there is real good bar service on the Spa deck. Just in case anyone wanted to know. Raiatea: This was a real busy day for us. We had three excursions booked through Princess. The first was the 4x4. We had a great tour guide named Maria. We went to a Vanilla plantation and the Marea Taputapuatea. There were also numerous stops to see the flora of the island. The second was Classic Sailing. The sailing was on the 44 ft sailboat Agaleion. We went along Taha'a and back. The sail was about 3 hrs long and my husband was at the helm on the way out, and for the tack on the way back. A lot of fun. The third and final excursion of the day was an evening barbecue on a motu. We were picked up by boat and taken to a motu where we watched the sunset and had dinner cooked in an ahima'a (Tahitian underground oven). There was a Tahitian children's dance show and guests had a chance to play the drums and dance. The boat ride back was fun, navigating the reef by flashlight. The next morning there was the scenic sail past Taha'a. Thought maybe we would sleep through this as we saw much of the island the day before, but glad I didn't. Really beautiful. The lagoon was smooth as glass, and we were so close to the island. Not to mention it was just shortly after sunrise and really something to experience. BoraBora: The first day we rented a car and drove around the island. We hit Bloody Marys for a drink and a stop in the bathroom. Glad I read that this was a must do, rather amusing. We also saw a local wedding, and drove to a pretty place to watch the sunset. The second day we did the submarine. This is a bit expensive but well worth the money. There is a decent to 100 ft where you see Lemon sharks, black tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and many fish and coral. We returned the car just after 11 am as the gas stations close at 11am on Sundays, and the car was supposed to be returned with a full tank. Now keep in mind, I said we returned the car after 11 am - we made it to the gas station at 11 am, it was closed. OK, another example of what makes Tahitians so different from Americans, I told her when we returned the car that we had missed the gas station, and we would need to pay her for the gas as we were a third of a tank shy of full. She looked at me, came out to check out the car and handed me my receipt. I reminded her I owed her for the gas, she smiled and told me to have a nice day. This would never happen around here. We then returned to the ship and headed for the pool. Something we have never done in all of our cruises. The pool was very nice and never crowded. There was also never any problem with chairs. Seems I was always seeing empty chairs. This was the night of the second formal night. I had a hot stone massage at 5 and then on to dinner. Moorea: We did the 4X4 through Princess, figuring that we would have time to go swimming or snorkeling afterward. This was a fun trip. We stopped many times to check things out. We also stopped at Belvedere Lookout, and went up to what they called Magic Mountain. There was a hike up to the top, and what a view. We headed back to the port, had lunch at the small resort right by the port. Very good sandwich on a baguette. We then learned how long the taxi ride was to the closest nice beach and found we would not have enough time to go. Very sad. Tahiti: Returning to Tahiti was a bit sad. The cruise had gone so fast. We had our last dinner in the dinning room, put our suitcases out and ended the night. The next day we had the full day tour with Patrick from Patrick's Adventures. What a loon. We had a great day. Driving into the interior took a while but once there it is really spectacular. The size of things is incredible. Very bumpy, at times there are cliff on both sides of you. Just unbelievable. Swimming in waterfalls, climbing down along a waterfall for lunch. I mean lunch in the river. It was so cool. We were rather pooped after the tour and did not want to do open seating in the dining room so we headed out into Papeete one more time. Yes we ended up at the local McDonald's. I just could not believe it. Dinner just like at home when you are too tired to cook. Leaving was a bit more difficult than arriving. Seems terror had nearly struck while we were in paradise. This made the airport a bit crazy. We cancelled our transfers and took a cab to beat the busses. This was a good idea. Thanks Cruise Critics. Once there we had a long wait for our boarding gate to open, but we were nearly at the front of the line. This led us to being one of the earlier passengers into the terminal to wait for our 11:30 flight which was actually a 12am flight. Thought I read that somewhere along the way. Princess reported 11:30. Oh well turns out not to be an issue. The 10pm flight was delayed to 11 but did not take off until 12:15am. Our 12am flight took off just after 12:30 not bad at all . Extra security turned out to be all the FAA promised and all carryon were hand checked twice. Once, before going into the terminal and then once in the gang way before getting on the plane. This second search is what seemed to cause the big delay in the flight before ours. LAX was rather easy except for Princess not having gotten seat assignments at the time of booking. American Airline noticed this and before booking assigned us two seats together. FYI the American Airlines rep told me that if we ever see that there are no seat numbers on our cruise docs we should call for seat assignments prior to the day we fly. We landed in Chicago 15 minutes early and were home by 10:45pm. I am working on a photo album on webshots. There are several there now and I hope to get a bunch more soon. Hope this wasn't too long for all of you. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Lets begin with the physical appearance. First of all if you are looking for glitz and glamour then this is not the ship for you. The interior reminds you of an older, stately hotel. It is very clean and subdued in its decor. Even the ... Read More
Lets begin with the physical appearance. First of all if you are looking for glitz and glamour then this is not the ship for you. The interior reminds you of an older, stately hotel. It is very clean and subdued in its decor. Even the casino seemed a bit sedate. If you like Vegasesque features you won't like this ship. Bear in mind it is the smallest ship in the Princess line along with its sister ship the Pacific Princess. We learned during the "Meet The Captain" cocktail party that Princess is actually building a new SMALL ship with similar dimensions, i.e. 30K tons and a length of about 600 ft. which seems to buck the trend for all new ships being goliaths. What do you find with small vs. mega-liners? This is what we noticed; First of all you see the same people more often and this means you have more opportunities to meet and greet. It leads to a friendlier atmosphere I think. Secondly word on a smaller ship travels fast. As you recall from TR part one a woman suffered a cardiac arrest and died. It seemed in no time that everyone knew about it and everything else for that matter. Third you do feel the motion more, esp. if the seas are rough. For calm seas its no problem but if the waves and wind kick up you do notice it more, esp. if you are at either end of the ship. Amidships was much better so I would advise those going on smaller ships to be in the middle as much as possible. I wondered how the Paul Gaughin did in this weather. We saw her as we passed Raiatea the first time. She was docked but couldn't get out due to the choppy seas and the narrow inlet. She is only 18K tons and about 100 ft. less than the TP. Fourth its much easier to get the "lay of the land" as it were. Next what about the service? In a word SUPER! If you read TR part 1 then you saw how wonderful that officer was in aiding us, esp. my wife in getting a more suitable room. Everyone working on that ship never once failed to be less than polite, accommodating and friendly. We felt welcomed and well considered. A few days into the cruise we took a galley tour and met the head chef. I was astounded when he asked my wife if she felt better. How he knew she had been ill I don't know but the fact that he did and asked was very impressive to us. Our cabin attendants were always polite, smiling and most importantly had our room spice and span. And our waiters were amazing! They were always on top of everything and worked tirelessly to be sure our needs were met. You know it seems that if you are friendly with them they more than return the favor to you. I really can't say enough about the overall excellence of the crew as a whole. Well done! How about the shows? We actually missed about half of them but from what we saw we thought they were well done and professional. They acted well, danced well and performed capably overall. However as this is a small ship the stage was pretty small too. Personally I prefer a bigger stage for that big production feel. The best performance came while in Raieatea when a local group of performers came on to show us native dances. They ranged from age 4 to about 18 and this was pretty neat to see. OK what about the food. We were very pleased for the most part. I would avoid the scrambled eggs from the Panorama cafe but aside from that the breakfast selections were quite varied and really very good. I would go up there around opening time for coffee and pastries and bring that to our room. We would relax on the balcony, eat that then have our full breakfast in the main dining room. The selections were well made but I think their menu could be expanded. The coffee ( I am fussy about my coffee. I brought my own plus a French press to make it with) was surprisingly very good in the Panorama cafe but pretty weak in the main dining room. I was very impressed with the buffet luncheons. It seemed there were 2-3 different salad selections every day w/o any repeating themselves. The Chinese cabbage/duck salad was especially good. They also have a great variety of main selections including things that you don't usually see such as Indian egg curry which actually even isn't on the menus of most Indian restaurants. Once day they had coconut shrimp which was fantastic and everyday they had a meat carving server dishing out whole roasted pig, scrumptious veal roasts, fresh turkey, roast beef and one day a whole tuna. Cold cuts and Pannini were always there. We had dinner in the main dining room every night and what can I say except all was very well. There were always appetizers, salads, soups and entree selections followed by dessert of course. Again it seemed that there was very little repetition esp. for a 10 day cruise. As an aside my wife requested Indian food on our first night and did get it it every night thereafter. It was pretty good really and on day 8 I think the head chef and all his assistants paraded around the dining room to receive a well deserved round of applause. Then we saw there were several Indian assistant cooks. No wonder the Indian food was so good. I must add that on Italian night we were able to try the home-made lemoncello. Momma mia! I bought a bottle today. Overall I can see why this particular ship is so well rated here. Actually as the FP destination is anything but glitz and glamour ala the Caribbean or Mexico this ships offerings fit perfectly to this destination. If there are any questions I haven't addressed please ask. Cheers, Larry Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
First and foremost a big thank you to this forum for giving me so much helpful information about our trip to paradise. It was a great wealth of informative information and we felt very prepared going to FP. We had free flights using ... Read More
First and foremost a big thank you to this forum for giving me so much helpful information about our trip to paradise. It was a great wealth of informative information and we felt very prepared going to FP. We had free flights using mileage from SEA to LAX on Alaska Air and they were able to check our luggage all the way through to PPT. It was a great time saver and I highly suggest asking the airlines you fly to see if they will check your luggage all the way through to PPT. Checking into ATN at LAX was a little confusing, you have to go upstairs in the Tom Bradley terminal. There was a long line for the ATN ticket counter but if you don't have luggage to check in, you go to a separate line and its a breeze to check in. Just ask one of their representatives concerning this. The configuration in coach was 2-4-2, we were in the window/aisle, very roomy for coach. My husband's tv screen didn't work and the plane was full so we couldn't change seats,we just took turns switching seats, long 8 hour flight, without both having individual screens. Food was uneventful but their free liquor helped. Arrived in Papeete at 8 p.m. used the ATM to cash $400 to FP$, very easy. Then walked with our luggage to the Tahiti Airport Motel which was just across the street from the airport. I don't recommend walking, TAKE A TAXI! We walked up what we thought was the right road but ended up being a private driveway, very STEEP, with a pack of barking dogs! Luckily an employee of the motel was watching us and came out and helped, taking us through a back gate of the motel. The motel was new, only had been open 1 week. The decorations were sparse, no pictures on walls, no night stands but is good for a late night arrival and the price was great compared to other Papeete hotels. Took a taxi to the Moorea ferry dock early the next morning, $20 taxi, very friendly woman driving taxi, gave us lots of information and we offered her a tip but she wouldn't accept it. Caught the Aremiti 5 ferry to Moorea, next time we would take the Moorea Express because the Aremiti5 takes a few cars so it takes a little longer. Our transport,Torea Nui, arranged through our hotel, cost $5 pp to take us to Pension Motu Iti. We stayed in a beach bungalow for 2 nights, $120 per night. WE LOVED IT! The owner, Auguste, was the most gracious host I've met. GREAT SNORKELING, free kayak use, but no sandy beach. We kayaked to the Sheraton everyday (to get ice for our evening cocktails) We loved it so much at the Motu Iti, that we came back to hang out and snorkel there when our cruise was in port in Moorea. Caught the ferry back on 8/15 and started our Tahitian Princess cruise. We had a balcony room midship, glad we did, alot of movement on a smaller ship. We didn't book any excursions through the ship, all independently, alot cheaper. Took Patrick's morning half day 4X4, while in port in Papeete. He is very informative concerning fauna and plants of Tahiti. We also got to swim in inviting waters near a waterfall, lots of fun but very bumpy ride at times. First port of call was Huahine, we did Marc's Snorkel Motu Picnic, one of our favorite excursions, a must-do! You can choose to do a 4X4 instead of the snorkel and meet up later with the other group for the picnic in the water. Good drift snorkel. The Hinanos and rum punch were flowing, great day. Day at sea was rough, lots of wind, going down to Rarotonga. We were going to be on the first tender to get off at Raro, but the captain decided that it was too rough and called us all back on the ship. A mishap with one of the crew members knocked him into the water and they had quite a time getting him back onboard. So we didn't get to port at Rarotonga but it looked beautiful from our balcony. The next 2 days were at sea in high winds, we took advantage of alot of the activities on board the ship so it helped. Can't figure out why it takes 1 day to get down to Rarotonga but 2 days to get back?? We, along with alot of other passengers aboard the ship, feel that Princess needs to take this port of call off their itinerary, since they are successful getting into this port less than 50% of the time. Its a long way to travel with little guarantee of tendering there. We know they want sea days for revenue but they could find a beautiful island closer to visit. Got into Raiatea on 8/21, Capt. said we couldn't dock because of "technical problems", we think it was because of the high winds. So they changed our itinerary and went to Bora Bora first, then back to Raiatea. Everyone had to change all excursions to new dates but the pursers office was gracious about letting us use their ship phones for free to make arrangements. By the time we finally got to Bora Bora, everyone was scrambling to get off the ship, 3 1/2 days at sea! But you forgot about all those sea days as soon as you step on that beautiful island. The different hues of blue in the lagoon were unbelievable. Did the shark/stingray feeding snorkel with Moana Tours, good tour but very windy. Was dropped off at Bloody Mary's, for, of course, a great bloody mary and lunch, was alot of fun. Then took taxi ride from there toured all around the island for $70, split the cost with another couple. Went on the Taravana Sunset Catamaran Cruise with other Cruise Critic friends. It was fabulous cruising around the island of Bora Bora and having a little bubbly. We watched a beautiful sunset and Capt. Postman was entertaining, a wonderful time was had by all. Went back to Raiatea on 8/23, did an excursion with Bruno's. This was the BEST coral snorkel we've EVER done, and we've done a few, including the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii, Belize, and Cozumel. We also went to a pearl farm and vanilla farm which were very interesting. The last port of call was Moorea, we rented a car from Albert's, $90 for the day. We went to Belevedere Lookout first thing because we wanted to beat the tour busses. So we got the beautiful views all to ourselves, great kodak moments. Then we drove around the island and stopped at a few nice beaches and then made our last stop at the Pension Motu Iti for one last day of fantastic snorkeling. We saw a rather large octopus that kept changing colors as it swam, WOW! Last day of trip 8/25 was spent touring around the island of Tahiti in a rental car with great friends we met from Australia. Hindsight, we would have rather taken our friends back to Moorea to spend the day. Had the 11:30 p.m. ATN flight back to LAX, really not a bad flight. We relaxed upstairs at the Papeete Airport, quite comfortable, waiting for our flight. The Tahitian people were so friendly and the staff of the Tahitian Princess were wonderful. We loved the "small ship" atmosphere on the Tahitian Princess. We really had a great time and hope to do it again someday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Lets begin with the physical appearance of the ship. First, of all if you are looking for glitz and glamour then this is not the ship for you. The interior reminds you of an older, stately hotel. It is very clean and subdued in its ... Read More
Lets begin with the physical appearance of the ship. First, of all if you are looking for glitz and glamour then this is not the ship for you. The interior reminds you of an older, stately hotel. It is very clean and subdued in its decor. Even the casino seemed a bit sedate. If you like Vegasesque features you won't like this ship. Bear in mind, it is the smallest ship in the Princess line along with its sistership the Pacific Princess. We learned during the "Meet The Captain" cocktail party that Princess is actually building a new SMALL ship with similar dimensions, i.e. 30K tons and a length of about 600 ft. which seems to buck the trend for all new ships being goliath. What do you find with small vs. mega-liners? This is what we noticed; First of all you see the same people more often and this means you have more opportunities to meet and greet. It leads to a friendlier atmosphere I think. Secondly, word on a smaller ship travels fast. Unfortunately, early on during the cruise a woman suffered a cardiac arrest and died. It seemed in no time that everyone knew about it and everything else for that matter. Third, you do feel the motion more, esp. if the seas are rough. For calm seas it's no problem, but if the waves and wind kick up you do notice it more, esp. if you are at either end of the ship. Amidships was much better so I would advise those going on smaller ships to be in the middle as much as possible. I wondered how the Paul Gaugin did in this weather. We saw her as we passed Raiatea the first time. She was docked but couldn't get out due to the choppy seas and the narrow inlet. She is only 18K tons and about 100 ft. less than the TP. Fourth, its much easier to get the "lay of the land" as it were. Next, what about the service? In a word SUPER! Everyone working on that ship never once failed to be less than polite, accommodating and friendly. We felt welcomed and well considered. A few days into the cruise we took a galley tour and met the head chef. I was astounded when he asked my wife if she felt better. How he knew she had been ill I don't know but the fact that he did and asked was very impressive to us. Prior to this an officer knew that my wife had become ill due to severe motion sickness. He went way out of his way to secure us a room amidships when one became available and it was a mini-suite as well. Our cabin attendants were always polite, smiling and most importantly had our room spic and span. And our waiters were amazing! They were always on top of everything and worked tirelessly to be sure our needs were met. You know it seems that if you are friendly with them they more than return the favor to you. I really can't say enough about the overall excellence of the crew as a whole. Well done! How about the shows? We actually missed about half of them but from what we saw we thought they were well done and professional. They acted well, danced well and performed capably overall. However, as this is a small ship the stage was pretty small too. Personally, I prefer a bigger stage for that big production feel. The best performance came while in Raieatea when a local group of performers came on to show us native dances. They ranged from age 4 to about 18 and this was pretty neat to see. OK, what about the food? We were very pleased for the most part. I would avoid the scrambled eggs from the Panorama Cafe but aside from that the breakfast selections were quite varied and really very good. I would go up there around opening time for coffee and pastries and bring that to our room. We would relax on the balcony, eat that then have our full breakfast in the main dining room. The selections were well made but I think their menu could be expanded. The coffee (I am fussy about my coffee. I brought my own plus a French press to make it with) was surprisingly very good in the panorama Cafe but pretty weak in the main dining room. I was very impressed with the buffet luncheons. It seemed there were 2-3 different salad selections every day w/o any repeating themselves. The Chinese cabbage/duck salad was especially good. They also have a great variety of main selections including things that you don't usually see such as Indian egg curry which actually even isn't on the menus of most Indian restaurants. Once day they had coconut shrimp which was fantastic, and everyday they had a meat carving server dishing out whole roasted pig, scrumptious veal roasts, fresh turkey, roast beef and one day a whole tuna. Cold cuts and pannini were always there. We had dinner in the main dining room every night and what can I say except all was very well. There were always appetizers, salads, soups and entrees selections followed by dessert of course. Again, it seemed that there was very little repetition esp. for a 10 day cruise. As an aside, my wife requested Indian food on our first night and did get it it every night thereafter. It was pretty good really, and on day 8 I think the head chef and all his assistants paraded around the dining room to receive a well deserved round of applause. Then, we saw there were several Indian assistant cooks. No wonder the Indian food was so good. I must add that on Italian night we were able to try the home-made limoncello. Momma mia! I bought a bottle today. Overall I can see why this particular ship is so well rated on Cruise Critic. Actually, as the FP destination is anything but glitz and glamour a la the Caribbean or Mexico this ships offerings fit perfectly to this destination. If there are any questions I haven't addressed please ask. Cheers. Larry. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
First off, I would like to thank all the Cruise Critic members for the valuable information they provided on this web site. It made planning this cruise much easier. This cruise was to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. Both my husband ... Read More
First off, I would like to thank all the Cruise Critic members for the valuable information they provided on this web site. It made planning this cruise much easier. This cruise was to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. Both my husband & I are in our mid-forties. This was our second cruise. Pre-cruise-We arrived in Honolulu 3 days prior to the cruise via American Airlines. The airfare was purchased through Princess. One of our pieces of luggage was lost-never to be seen again. We stayed with friends & I recommend an evening at the Halekulani Hotel-House without a Key. Embarkation-This was a breeze. There were no lines at 4 p.m. We completed the boarding process & were on the ship within 5 minutes. Cabin-Our cabin was an aft balcony cabin with sufficient room for two people. Storage was a concern, but we had brought 5 pieces of luggage. The room was clean & well maintained. The service provided by our room steward, Miguel, was excellent. Food-The dining room experience was a major disappointment. We were assigned a table for two, as requested, yet the table was mere inches from a table for six. It seemed that we were dining at a table for eight. The other side of our table was the staging area with a clear view of dirty dishes. The dining room service provided to our table was mediocre & the food bland. We spent as many nights as we could at the alternative restaurants. The service provided by our waiter there, Candido, was excellent & the food delicious. I recommend the alternative dining for someone wishing a more intimate, romantic experience. Room service was prompt & efficient. The daily breakfast & lunch buffets were ok as were the poolside hamburgers. Entertainment-Considering the size of the ship, the production shows were good. In order to have a clear view of any performance, I recommend arriving early. We did not use the casino, but enjoyed the piano player, Joseph, located there and the bar staff. The pool was almost impossible to use, as people were there, saving loungers as of 7:00 a.m. The Princess crew refused to address any complaints made on this issue by various passengers. Shore excursions-Based on information provided on these message boards, we rented cars in Honolulu, Lahaina, and Hilo. The shore excursions booked through Princess were a 4x4 trip in Bora Bora which turned out to be a glorified shopping trip, a visit to a pearl farm/moto in Raiatea & 4x4 trip in Moorea. Being on a smaller ship made it much easier to get on/off the ship for port visits. Customer service-This is where the staff really dropped the ball. We had to literally beg the pursers department to provide us with a copy of our lost luggage report. After 5 requests & notification that we would be contacting Princess Cruise Lines, we finally received the form as we were leaving the ship. We also could not get the pursers staff to verify conflicting information regarding our post-cruise stay purchased through Princess. There was a general air of indifference among the staff. Disembarkation-This portion of the cruise was an absolute nightmare, which literally left me crying at the pier at Papeete. I had to fight with the staff & crew of the Tahitian Princess to honor the transfer vouchers I had purchased through Princess. I had to argue with them to take my bags off the ship & to the waiting area (a service which I had paid for). I also could not get the pursers staff to verify the information regarding the post cruise stay in Moorea/Tahiti which I had purchased through Princess. In conclusion, this is a pretty ship geared to accommodate those over 60, or honeymooners. Since it is smaller, you really feel the pitching/rocking of the ship. Unfortunately, based on the overall poor customer service we received (except as noted above), we would not choose this ship again & would hesitate to book through Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Our Tahitian trip was booked on the Dawn Princess during our August 2005 Alaskan cruise. There is a phenomenon on cruises where you have this insatiable desire to start planning your next cruise because you do not want this fantasy ... Read More
Our Tahitian trip was booked on the Dawn Princess during our August 2005 Alaskan cruise. There is a phenomenon on cruises where you have this insatiable desire to start planning your next cruise because you do not want this fantasy experience to end. Our cruising has been on larger ships, from 90-130,000 tons, which hold from 1,900-3,500 people. The Tahitian Princess is the former R3, 670 passage ship from the defunct Renaissance Line. The Future Cruise Sales Lady said it was a gorgeous ship, traditional in dEcor and intimate in feel. I had always wanted to travel to Tahiti. As a kid, Id cut out of magazines pictures of over the water bungalows  a virtual floating hotel room, surrounded by water where you literally jump out of bed and into the sea water for a morning swim. A ten day cruise sounded heavenly and the Cook Island itinerary nicely fit our schedules. In January 2006, I moved our reservation from Princess Travel to an internet agency to secure a better price (a reported savings of $760) and better cabin. When it came time for final payment, we learned Mr. X, the agent misstated the actual savings. After a lengthy email campaign, which ended up just short of the General Managers desk, we received about $450 (a small victory but it was the principle!) The blessing of this fiasco was when the customer service manager turned us over to a well seasoned travel and cruise professional. The next sign of the impending trip as the purchase and subsequent arrival of our snorkeling gear. We actually bought something from those overpriced catalogs that come to our house by the thousands&&& per week! I felt like such the yuppie. Friday, June 30, 2006 had an early morning wake up call of 5:30am. The cab was on time at 6:30am with arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at the prescribe 2 hours before departure of the originating leg of an international trip. Translated, we sat in the Presidents Club for an hour and 45 minutes before our flight left. Travel desperation set in when after Air Tahiti Nui checked Bruce in under a different Smiths reservation, our wonderful seats with unlimited leg room were released. As we took our new seats in the middle of the plane, I realized the center seats were specifically design for double-amputee who need the ability to recline (lumbar support included) but no need to stretch out. Blessings of blessing occurred when the two people in the bulkhead seats in front of us missed their connection, and we took their seats. Second blessings of blessing when NO babies were to be found in adjoining seats (screaming babies are the bane of all business travels). If you can't get row 10, row 30 in the middle or row 31 either side, get the seats A&B or G&H. The side seats seem to have more leg room. Landing, immigration, waiting for luggage and transportation to the hotel were commensurate with the void of urgency that comes with island time. I was quickly losing patience as I was not only working on 4 hours previous night sleep, I was in my 22 hour of in-transit mode. It was not until Saturday morning that I realized how excellent our over the water bungalow was. Intercontinental Hotel Papeete is one of the only hotels on the island to have over the water bungalows. Upon wakening, I walked out onto our deck, climb down to our private swim platform, and took an early morning swim in the pacific with brightly colored fish! It was magnificent. Bruce and I took our breakfast on the deck, then went snorkeling. 50 meters off our swim platform was a coral reef and we witness an entire marine world at work and play. The day was relaxing and temperature was a pleasant 83°F with a constant breeze. Dinner was at Le Lotus  a top rated French restaurant in Papeete. Sunday July 2  As we ate our breakfast on the deck, we commented on how clear the air was. Not sure if the fresh breeze was a contributing factor or if it was always this clear. We spent the morning lounging around and at 10:45am took the coach to the ship. Arriving a few days early and staying at a Princess arranged hotel is the way to go since they pick up your luggage from the hotel room and deliver it to the ship. You are the first ones to board, 2 hours before everyone else. The Tahitian Princess is a gorgeous small ship. It decorated in traditional colors - reds, blues, golds, Chippendale style furniture with dark wood paneling. We had a mini suite on floor 8 - Suite 8045. What is special about these cabins is the entire balcony wall is floor to ceiling glass - providing the most wonderful view! The small ship and overall very attentive staff made for high level of personalized service and attention. Crew around the ship remembered our names. Our cabin steward was particularly attentive. If he was within 100 feet of our door as we came down the hall, he would run to open the door with his swipe card. The food was the best we have ever had on Princess, with six Princess, 3 Royal Caribbean and 1 Celebrity cruises under our belts, this cruises food close to the top (Celebrity is still the best we have had). We had such a great time that we did not mind the weather. We had heavy rain on 3 days and average rain on 4 others. The ports of call were restful, relaxing and visually exciting. The lush green mountains and wonderful blue water was right out of a book on paradise. One issue we had with the ship is that you feel the seas more, something you should expect on a smaller ship. We had following seas one day and the ship pitched more that others. Inconsistent with the rest of the ship is the health and fitness area. One of two elliptical trainers was not working and the steam room needed to be better cleaned and repaired. Having said that, this was truly a great cruise and super ship and would highly recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
I planned this trip for my 70th birthday so as an oldie did not venture into the snorkeling, etc. but will give you my two bob's worth. We have done the Europe bus tour, Disneyland, Fiji, game parks in South Africa, etc. but this ... Read More
I planned this trip for my 70th birthday so as an oldie did not venture into the snorkeling, etc. but will give you my two bob's worth. We have done the Europe bus tour, Disneyland, Fiji, game parks in South Africa, etc. but this cruise was the best holiday of them all. We booked in September 2005 for July 2006 and should have booked earlier. As it is under 5 hrs from NZ not too far to fly. We were happy with all our arrangements. We arrived in Papeete about 8.30pm and then were taken over to the Moorea Airport where we hopped on a small plane and in 7 minutes we were in Moorea and taken by bus to the Moorea Pearl Resort. We were greeted with leis and a refreshing drink, given a short tour of the hotel and taken to our bungalow with our own little pool, deck and lawn area surrounded by a fence and quite private, if you didn't want to swim with the "beautiful people". It was air-conditioned and very nice and very quiet. I heard of one couple who went to a hotel which wasn't air-conditioned and they got badly bitten by mosquitoes, so cheap is not always best. We loved the Moorea Pearl, and only 5 minutes to a "magasin" to buy baguettes, salami, cheese and tomatoes for brunch. We rung the Le Mahogany restaurant and Te Honu Iti, were picked up and returned to our hotel. The meals at these restaurants were what I would call "pretty touristy" and paled in comparison to the ship meals. We tried to get a bus tour but as the previous cruise was in port everything was booked out so we did the tour when our cruise came in. We were picked up and taken to the ferry to Papeete which took 30 minutes and when we arrived we just wheeled our luggage to the ship. We had filled in the cruise personaliser so quickly went through the formalities and left our luggage to be delivered later. Went up the gangplank and this being our first cruise just stood there thinking someone would show us to our stateroom but after going to reception and given a blank stare found it ourselves. The only minus for the ship. And note, take some long pants for the men in your hand luggage as the bags did not arrive till 8.00pm and no shorts in the Club restaurant. Anyway we went to the buffet. Went up on deck and watched the vahines in the polynesian show. Would you believe out of 680 people I heard a Scottish accent in the market the next day and found one of our Cruise Critic friends. This was the highlight of our trip meeting up with people we had got to know. Eleven of us went to Sabatinis for dinner and we left groaning with food. They bring you everything on the menu. And then back to our Cruise Critic friend's owner's suite which was huge and gorgeous so a lot of fun and laughs there. Also I got e-mails from friends and family dropped in our mailbox outside the stateroom door. They can send to TahitianPrincess@princesscruises.com. The internet is .50c a minutes so you can't spend a lot of time there. The flowers from the market lasted the whole cruise. The food was wonderful. We usually went to the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Another hint if you prefer fried eggs to scrambled just go round to the grill and then come back and get your bacon, hash browns, etc. The same if you want some chips with your salad at lunchtime. We went to the early sitting at 6.00pm at the Club restaurant which was as big as a ballroom. Got quite used to four courses every night. Had a martini at the piano bar at 5.30pm, had dinner, then the show. The dancers were very good and we really enjoyed the shows. The children from Raiatea came one night for island night. Get yourself a floral headpiece for the ladies and a lei for the men, wear your floral gear, get your photo taken with the dancers and have a great night. Also help to pour the champagne into the glasses at the champagne waterfall. Great photos. Formal nights. Some tuxedos but mostly suits or jackets and ties. Some long and some short dresses for the ladies. Wear what you like. My husband bought me a black pearl for my birthday so I wore it and a black dress and we had some formal photos taken for our family. Went to the Captain's cocktail party and he shook hands with everyone. Just a youngster at 44. Excursions. Did mostly bus tours and probably if you see one island you have seen the lot. Our Marc's Huahine tour was disappointing in that the rain came down sideways and we never got to have our picnic in the water. We were wet through but enjoyed the food and the hilarity. Just go with the flow. It also rained in Raiatea and Bora Bora. Did the glass-bottom boat trip. Went to Bloody Mary's and had a drink. Well I only had a sip as it was too spicy for me. Check both the men's and the ladies toilets! Moorea. This island was very pretty and the best trip of all. And the sun was shining so that made a big difference. Only docked at Papeete and Raiatea so had to tender into the other islands. This was done so efficiently. The only hairy ride was the one back from Rarotonga. Rarotonga. We just took a local bus which goes round the island clockwise and anti-clockwise. We got off at the Rarotongan resort, had a dip in the cooler than I thought water and then got back on the bus - $NZ10 each for the round trip. Others shared a taxi ride. At one island 2 people got left behind because they didn't make the last tender and some kind boatie gave them a ride out to the ship. Don't forget your water shoes as the coral is tough on the feet. Everyone on the boat was so friendly and about 30 different countries represented. I can't say enough about the dining room staff and how the plates were presented so beautifully for 340 people at a time. We tried the ice cream at 3.30pm and also the afternoon tea of scones, jam and cream. The scones were a disappointment as American scones are like little hard biscuits whereas an English scone is high and fluffy, but there also beautiful little cakes, savoury things, etc. Have your breakfast delivered to your stateroom when you have an early start in the morning. We had a balcony and had enough room for everything. The shower and toilet area was small but was okay. Nothing to complain about there. Plenty of hot water. Use 4 quarters for the washing machine which takes half an hour and the dryer 4 quarters and takes 45 minutes. Soap powder is supplied. You could be busy or lazy which ever you preferred and plenty to do. We were sad to say goodbye to our friends and thought 10 days was just about right. Glad we did the pre-cruise as we went to the ICB in Papeete and felt a bit flat on the last night. A big resort with queues of people coming and going. The grounds were lovely and we watched the fish and big stingrays being fed. We had a hotel room which was a bit faded and had to leave at 5.00am. Some others went back to the ship for their meal as you could come and go until 8.00pm. We had a baguette with fish and fries and a steak sandwich and off to bed. Very expensive food. Happy hour is 4.30 to 5.30pm. Air Tahiti Nui was very good and no complaints. Everything went smoothly. If one of us wanted an early night that was fine as the other could go to the shows, no unpacking of clothes, no driving home. In fact the perfect holiday and the best birthday ever. Now where will we go next cruise..... Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Just got back from my first cruise on the Tahitian Princess. Overall, had a great experience and wanted to share my thoughts. First off, do NOT book air through Princess if you can avoid it. We did, and it took us a full 24 hours to ... Read More
Just got back from my first cruise on the Tahitian Princess. Overall, had a great experience and wanted to share my thoughts. First off, do NOT book air through Princess if you can avoid it. We did, and it took us a full 24 hours to reach Tahiti. Princess had us flying out of Philadelphia to Detroit (1 and ½ hour flight) where we had a 3 hour layover. Then from Detroit we flew to LAX in CA (5 hour flight) where we had another 3 hour layover. Then we flew to Papeete (7 ½ hour flight). Our first two flights were with Northwest Airlines and I was shocked that we did not get even a snack given to us on the plane. I can understand not receiving anything on the short flight, but after 5 hours I feel they should have at least given us a bag of peanuts. They offered snacks for sale, but it was very expensive so we declined. Northwest didn't even show a movie on the 5 hour flight! Air Tahiti did provide 2 meals that were decent. They also had individual monitors behind everyone's seat where you could play video games or choose from 7 different movies. Air Tahiti was much better than Northwest. We arrived at the ship at around 11 pm our first day, so we didn't get to see any of Tahiti which disappointed me. Embarking went very quickly; we didn't even need the express check-in option. We were so glad to finally be there after such horrible travel conditions. Our balcony room was great. It was very clean and welcoming. I felt the room was plenty big enough. The bathrooms were small, but I pretty much expected that. We did not have our robes that we requested on ine waiting for us, but as soon as I asked our room steward, they were provided immediately. I felt the air conditioner could have been a little more powerful. I was comfortable, but I like a colder room when I sleep. They had an air conditioner adjustment knob, but I didn't notice a difference when I moved it to cooler. After a few days, I realized that I was allergic to something in our room. Every time I was in the room I was sneezing and my nose was running and my eyes itched. I finally mentioned my problem to a man at the Purser's desk and he ordered a thorough cleaning of our stateroom. Princess changed our bedding and put an air purifier in our room. I was very grateful. It helped some, but I still had some problems. On our last night, however, I noticed that they took our old bedding and stuffed it under our bed, which probably defeated the purpose of changing it if they kept it in our room anyway. But our room steward was great! He did an exceptional job and we were very pleased with him. The ship is beautiful. All common areas are clean and well kept. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food was pretty good, but I was disappointed in some of the selections in the dining room. I'm not a brave eater; I stay away from things like pheasant, rabbit, snails, frog legs, etc. I kind of stick to chicken and beef, which limited my choices, a lot. Also, being pregnant, it was hard for me to select a dessert. Most of the desserts are soaked in alcohol, or contain some type of liqueur in them. I was pretty frustrated about this. Why couldn't they just have plain chocolate cake? Our headwaiter and assistant were fantastic! They were funny and worked their butts off! We got great service! As honeymooners, they brought out a mini cake and sang to us. We thought this was wonderful. We also had balloons taped outside our door that said "Just Married". The breakfast buffet was where we ate almost every morning. The food was hot and the variety was good. We ate fresh omelets almost everyday. Also, when we asked for crispy bacon, they made us some. One problem I had was that fact that juices were only available in the morning. Once the breakfast buffet closed, the cranberry and orange juices were taken down and only iced tea was left. When we arrived I was under the impression that juice was free and we only had to pay for alcohol and soda. However when I tried to get juice in the afternoon or at night they charged me. Being pregnant, I didn't want to drink the free iced tea because of the caffeine, but then was limited to only water to drink. After a few days I was thirsty for something else and got on the soda plan where I could at least drink Sprite. However, I was still made to pay the full price of the package even though I joined 3 days into the cruise. The entertainment on the ship was good. My husband and I weren't crazy for the dancing shows, with the exception of the dancers in Raaitea, but the dancers worked hard. It just wasn't our thing. We did enjoy the game shows on board, the comedian, the magician, and the comedy of our very own cruise director Neil. He was great! He had us laughing at almost everything he said. He was fantastic! We got to meet the Captain at the Captain's party, and he was very nice as well. We booked 5 excursions through Princess before we left for the trip. One excursion was canceled a few days before we left because not enough people signed up. It was for a Luau, which we found odd considering we were going to Hawaii. Our 1st excursion was the Motu Picnic in Moorea. We enjoyed it a lot. Our next excursion, the Sunset Sail, was cancelled due to rain. We were disappointed, but understood. We received refunds for cancelled excursions. Our 3rd excursion was the catamaran sailing in Bora Bora. This was one of our favorites. We relaxed in the sun and even were given time to snorkel a little. I was extremely upset when on the night of July 20th our 4th excursion was canceled in Maui. It was to the Ocean Center. We received a letter in our stateroom saying that not enough people booked it. I was frustrated because we were set to arrive in Maui on July 22nd and I felt that by canceling so late, it left us limited to book another in its place due to the fact that most of the other excursions were taken. Then, I noticed that the excursion was listed as Sold Out in the lobby area, and wondered if that was why they didn't have enough people. We booked private tours when we got to land and found them to be cheaper than the tours offered by Princess. One disappointment was Christmas Island. We got off the boat, looked around and saw nothing! It smelled like the air was polluted and it was dirty. My husband didn't even want to put his toe in the water out of fear. Half the people got on the tender back and spent the day at the pool instead. It was such a waste of time. I feel they only stopped there to get us off the ship since we were at sea for a couple of days and it would be 2 more days until we would get to Hawaii. I would have rather skipped Christmas Island all together and had an extra day in Hawaii instead. Overall, the experience of the ship was great! They had a good amount of activities and entertained very well! All of the staff were on top of things. We were amazed at how hard they worked. We purchased the couple's package at the photo booth and got over 40 great pictures of us on our trip, including a canvas photo of our choice and a photo album. My husband enjoyed a nice massage in the spa area. The Internet speed was pretty fast considering we were at sea. Hand sanitizers were everywhere, which ensured us that the crew and staff were trying to maintain a healthy establishment. The security on the ship was also tight, which we appreciated. We purchased gifts at the ship's gift shop. But, just so you know, t-shirts go on sale towards the end of the cruise, so wait to purchase them. We bought 6 shirts and found they were half the price just a few days later. Beware that when the sea is rocky, the small ship does move a bit. The first few days we found it difficult to walk straight due to the rough seas. Bring medicine if you get seasick easily. We were fine when the seas were calm. We had to be out of our cabins at 8:00 am on the last day of the cruise. Princess got us a day room at a hotel in Honolulu. It was basically a banquet room with pitchers of water for us to drink. Our flights home were just as bad as our flights there. Many people were complaining about the flights scheduled through Princess. We flew out of Honolulu at 11pm! We were the last flight to leave. Then we flew 4 ½ hours to San Francisco and had an hour and ½ layover there. (We didn't even find out the plane was going to San Francisco until we got to the Honolulu airport. The stop wasn't listed on our Princess air tickets. After San Francisco, we flew another 4 ½ hours to Atlanta, Georgia where we had a 2 ½ hour layover, and finally we flew an 1 ½ to Philadelphia. We flew Delta Airlines on the way home and were pleased to find that they at least offered movies and meal service, unlike Northwest Airlines. A couple we met booked their air through Princess and was going to Newark, NJ. Princess had them flying to 3 different airports with crazy layovers. When they got to the Honolulu airport they were seated in a terminal right across from an airline that was flying directly from Honolulu to Newark. They were so upset. Overall, I would definitely book another cruise through Princess. (I would make my own flight arrangements next time). We had a great honeymoon and found that the crew worked so hard to help us enjoy our trip! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Since this was our first cruise (in celebration of our 25th anniversary) we didn't know what to expect. In reading the reviews it can be difficult to decipher because some people complain about the silliest things. I don't think ... Read More
Since this was our first cruise (in celebration of our 25th anniversary) we didn't know what to expect. In reading the reviews it can be difficult to decipher because some people complain about the silliest things. I don't think that I could say enough good things about the Tahitian Princess and her crew. Our every need (voiced or not) was catered to by our cabin steward as well as the restaurant and bar staff. The cruise director and his staff were amazing in that they appeared to know everyone's name on the ship by the third day. One thing that I was quite surprised about was the movement of the ship during the rough seas. I didn't expect to be able to feel the rocking and rolling of the ocean, but certainly did. There were several passengers that were affected by sea sickness. We feel very fortunate that we weren't. It was quite amusing watching everyone try to walk. The other passengers were good natured about it. We ate at the buffet almost every morning and the food was ok. It was typical buffet dining. For a late lunch we would either visit the pizzeria, which was awesome or the poolside grill to get that little something to tide us over until our late dinner. We ate in the dining room on all but two nights. Our server and back waiter were very attentive and pleasant. We had ten great meals in the dining room. It was a fantastic opportunity to experience different cuisine. On our anniversary we were serenaded by the waitstaff and given a personal dessert as well as a congratulatory card from the captain. Our stateroom was on the lowest passenger floor. We were actually expecting a tiny room. The stateroom we had was much bigger than we expected and was very comfortable. Our steward made sure that it was always tidy and with fresh towels. We booked only two shore excursions during our cruise as we didn't want to be held hostage to a tight schedule while on vacation. We went to the Tahitian BBQ on Raiatea and the Ring of Fire helicopter tour in Hilo. We would recommend both of these tours. The BBQ was the most personal luau we have ever attended. Touring the active volcanos via helicopter was very exciting. Out of all of the islands that we toured, Christmas Island is one that I could do without. I imagine the only reason for the stopover is to break up four sea days. I would have like to have seen more time in the other ports as we just got a "taste" of the islands. I would recommend Princess to anyone and when we cruise again we would definitely book with Princess. Spot on...job well done! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Tahitian Princess June 22-July 2, 2006 We had been on 2 previous cruises, both on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas to the islands of the Caribbean. Voyager is Royal Caribbean's largest class, so we were a little nervous ... Read More
Tahitian Princess June 22-July 2, 2006 We had been on 2 previous cruises, both on Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas to the islands of the Caribbean. Voyager is Royal Caribbean's largest class, so we were a little nervous about the Tahitian Princess being a smaller ship especially since I get motion sick. We were pleasantly surprised. We really got to know a lot of people and I only felt sick once. I recommend if you get motion sick to ask for a room in the middle of the ship. I would feel sick occasionally when we were at the front or aft, but our cabin was in the middle and I was fine when we were there. June and July are considered winter in French Polynesia, but luckily it wasn't their rainy season. The temperatures averaged in the mid-80s during the day and it rarely ever rained. The islands were much different from the Caribbean; no one was there soliciting you and none of the islands were very developed. We only saw one McDonalds the whole time! I always thought all tropical islands were the same, but these islands were truly breathtaking and like a paradise. It was a 6-hour time difference for us, but it didn't really take us that long to adjust because we slept on the plane. The Ship There was one pool. It was nice, but a little small. There were also 2 hot tubs. The best and least crowded time to go in them is about 5:30 or 6pm. The gym was very small compared to the Voyagers. There were 5 treadmills and 2 Ellipticals, but unfortunately for me, one of these was out of order. They advertised aerobics classes in the Patter, but whenever I went to the gym for them, no one was there. We only used the spa once for the saunas, but they were very nice. The spa has a sun deck with a hot tub, but it costs $15 for a chair for the day. We didn't know anyone who did that. Our tablemates bought stone massages and said they were amazing. They have waiters providing antibacterial hand gel when you walk into the dining room and throughout the buffet. They are very concerned about keeping any viruses from spreading. We heard that one man developed diarrhea and was quarantined to his room until it stopped. Apparently, they refunded him the money for the days he missed out on. Dining We had the second dinner seating and the first night they sat us at a table for 2 in the corner of the dining room by a really odd painting. After dinner, we spoke to the maitre'd who was pretty rude and he told us we had requested a table for 2 and he couldn't change it. Originally when we signed up for the cruise, we did sign up for a table of 2, but then maybe 6 months before the cruise we requested a change to a table of 6. Miraculously, the next night we had a note on our door saying we had been moved to another table. We ended up sitting with a nice couple that had cruised a lot and were about our age from Arizona. We all got along very well and dinners were very enjoyable. There was also another honeymooning couple at our table, but they only came about 3 times. It turned out that we had all requested table changes. Oddly enough, one of the couples that we did a few excursions with had requested a table for 2 the first night and ended up at our old table. We were pretty disappointed in the food compared to the Voyager. The Voyager's food was excellent and this was just mediocre. The first day we did breakfast in the dining room. It was very nice and quick. For the rest of the trip, we went to the buffet. It was good; they pretty much had the same thing every morning. Plus you could have an omelet made. My husband and I were very excited because they had egg whites. Beware, they ran out of pineapple about day #7. Lunch was usually horrible in the buffet, but the grill's chicken sandwiches (avoid the veggie burgers; they are very mushy) and French Fries were very good. They also never had fat free or light salad dressing. They offer snacks around 3:30pm at the buffet. We discovered this 3 days into the cruise. They offer ice cream at this time, which my husband loved since there was no soft serve machines like on the Voyager. Beware though, if you don't get there early, they run out of ice cream. They also have panini's you can make. My advice would be to skip lunch and go to the snack service if you have the late dinner seating. My husband's favorite dinner meal was the lobster. I'm not sure I had a favorite. Although if you can't find anything on the menu you like, get the fettuccine alfredo that they offer every night. Stay away from the chicken, it's very dry. Most of the desserts weren't worth the calories. The only dessert that was worth it was our honeymoon cake. Our waiters were great, better than waiters we had had on previous ships. Whenever they were working on the deck, they would always come up and talk to us. We never tried any of the specialty restaurants although the people who went said they were very good with many different options. P.S. Try the mint martini and the cosmopolitini that Jake makes at the wine bar in the dining room! Service The service was much better than the larger ships. They couldn't have been more helpful or friendly. On previous cruises, my husband always got mad because they never said welcome aboard when we first got on the ship, but on this cruise we heard it multiple times. People The people, both guests and staff, were friendlier on the Tahitian Princess than on the larger ships. I don't know if this is because there were less people or because most of the people on the ship were from the West Coast (we are from Philadelphia). They automatically charge you $10 per person per day for tips. We liked this a lot better than on Royal Caribbean where they gave us envelopes to determine on our own how much to give each person. Entertainment We read Frommer's Guide to the South Pacific before and during the trip. Be forewarned, it is wrong on numerous accounts. Also, with all of the tours it talks about, it doesn't tell you which ones that Princess uses and charters through so don't count on doing these tours because they usually only take the people who signed up through Princess. The shows on the ship were horrendous. The stage is very tiny. The only shows that were worth it were the night in Raietea where the Polynesian dancers come aboard and perform. The comedians weren't very good either. They showed a couple of movies, but we opted to lay out by the pool. You could also paint your own pottery, but it was very expensive. They had an internet cafe with 4 or 5 computers, but we never used it. Thursday, June 22, 2006 We left Philadelphia International Airport for our honeymoon to Tahiti. We had reserved our flights through Princess. Initially we were a little upset because they didn't get us to Papeete until late at night on the 22nd and we would have liked to spend this whole day in Tahiti so we tried to arrange our own flight, but found that it was much cheaper to go through Princess. We were so excited! We flew to Salt Lake City with a 2-hour layover and then to LAX. We actually had to check in at the International Terminal here and with Air Tahiti. The check in clerks had on leis and there was no line whatsoever which was good because we only had about 1 hour between flights. We then had to go through security. Our plane was out on the runway when we got to the gate, but it took about 2 hours for it to move over to the gate and for them to prepare it. So we ended up getting to Papeete about 1 hour late. The plane luckily wasn't full and the 2 seats in front of us were empty. The plane unfortunately does not have much space between the seats. However, they did provide every passenger with a pillow, blanket, hand wipes, earplugs, headphones, and socks. They had little TV screens in the back of every seat where you could watch movies, play games, or listen to music. They provided us with a dinner of either chicken and rice or beef, however by the time the flight attendants got back to us, they only had chicken left which was fine with us. They also gave us a roll and yogurt. They provided free alcoholic beverages. They had champagne, wine, gin, rum, vodka, and the Tahitian beer, Hinano. We were disappointed in the drink service. After dinner, we each asked for another drink, but they told us they had put all of the hard alcohol away. We talked to other people later on the earlier flight who told us they had been able to drink the whole flight. The flight attendants were very nice. They also provided a snack, which was a pizza pocket, roll, and yogurt. The flight was very smooth. When we landed in Tahiti, people handed us very fragrant flowers. My husband and I made it through customs, grabbed our check-in luggage and got a cab all within 10 minutes. We had heard horror stories about it taking a long time to get through customs so I'm not sure if we were just lucky. We did not take the Princess transfers - these would have cost us $120 each way for 2 of us, however we got a cab and beat all of the Princess passengers to the dock for only $30 for both of us. Check-in at the dock was also easy. There were no other passengers there. Be forewarned, they keep your passports and give you a receipt for them. They told us that if they took our luggage, it would take about an hour for it to get up to our room, so since it was so late, we decided to carry it ourselves. When we arrived at the ship, they had Just Married Balloons on our cabin door. Our room was a balcony on the 7th deck. It had a great view of Papeete. We weren't in our room more than 5 minutes when our room steward knocked on the door and showed us where everything was in the room; this was sort of surprising as it was about midnight when we got there. We had requested bathrobes on line prior to arriving, however they weren't in our rooms when we arrived, but we just asked Steve and he provided them within about 10minutes. We bought a soda card that night ($45) for unlimited soda throughout the cruise (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Club Soda). Friday, June 23, 2006 - Papeete, Tahiti We had reserved a 4WD safari tour with Patrick via email before the cruise. There were 3 other couples on this tour. Two of which we did other tours with during the cruise. This was one of the best tours we did. He took us into the Papenoo Valley and stopped many places along the way to show us all the flowers of Tahiti. He showed us what he called a no-touch plant which drooped when you touched it once and then collapsed if you touched it again. He showed us many waterfalls and also some ferns whose spores could create tattoos. He wouldn't have even had to show us anything because the valley itself was the most breathtaking thing I've even seen in my entire life. He stopped any time we wanted for pictures. We drove through rivers and stopped to swim at a watering hole with a waterfall. We jumped off a large rock into the water. The water was pretty cold, but it was a ton of fun. It rained once briefly during the day. This was a half-day tour for $47 pp or 4500 CFP and he doesn't require a deposit. We wished it could have been longer. He has a full day tour, but it was booked. I would highly recommend doing the full day. You can email him at patrickaventure@mail.pf. We also went to La Marchette and bought the flower arrangements that everyone talks about. They were only $15 and lasted until about the 2nd to last day of the cruise. They were full of tropical flowers and probably would have cost about $75 in the US. They also had pretty cheap ($15) pareos. Saturday, June 24, 2006 - Huahine We were tendered in Huahine. We took the first tender in because we wanted to do Marc's tour. He was full when we emailed him prior to the cruise and said to meet him on the dock to check for availability. We met a very nice couple here from Arizona who helped us get into the tour. Marc had both a 4WD and a canoe tour with 2 canoes that held about 8 people each. Marc ended up fitting us into one of the canoes although we had heard the 4WD was better. This tour cost 19500CFP per person. Our guides were very funny. They were dressed in pareos and had flower leis and headpieces. We first went around the island to a deserted hotel where we snorkeled off the beach. It started pouring the minute we got there, but our guide kept telling us it would pass. I didn't believe him because the clouds were pretty ominous, but he was right. The storm ended in about 20minutes. The snorkeling here was ok - some colorful fish and coral, but the current was a little bit strong the further we went out. After about 45 minutes, I was pretty tired from trying to fight it. After snorkeling, we stopped at a pearl farm where they showed us how they grafted the pearls. They had a little store where you were able to purchase pearls. We then went to another spot for drift snorkeling. I was a little nervous about this and also cold from the last snorkel and the rain, but I did it and I'm glad I did. Our guide followed us in the boat as we drifted along. It was actually much easier than the 1st snorkel because the current just pushed us along. The coral here was amazing colors and the fish were much brighter than the previous site. We then stopped off a motu (little island) for a picnic where there were tables and chairs set up about knee high in the water. Our guides and Marc served us Hinano beer and rum punch. We ate barbecue chicken and some type of fish and they showed us how to make poisson cru. They also played music on the eikele and on spoons while they sang. My husband and I really grew to like the Polynesian music. The guide then did a pareo tying demonstration. He picked on the two of us who were on our honeymoons. He ended up dressing me up in a palm tree pareo and coconuts. I thought we would be able to keep them, but unfortunately we had to give them back. Finally around 4:30 they took us back to the dock to get our tenders. Email Marc at huahinenautique@mail.pf. At night, the ship had a honeymooners get together in the Tahitian lounge with free drinks. Sunday, June 25 - At Sea We spent this day lounging around the pool, but unfortunately, the bridge came on the loud speaker about 3 times during the day signaling that we would be going through showers so it was cloudy most of the day. This was our first formal night and The Captains Welcome Cocktail Party in the Tahitian Lounge. Do not go see the show this night; they had dancing skunks. Needless to say we left promptly! Monday, June 26 - Rarotonga, Cook Islands My husband really wanted to go on a deep sea fishing excursion so he set one up here over email. This seemed to be the cheapest island as the US dollar was relatively strong compared to the New Zealand dollar. We needed two other people to go out and we just happened to run into another honeymooning couple on the tender over who also wanted to go. We went over to the dock and the captain told us we were waiting for one other person who was vacationing on the island. So we went over to the local grocery store and bought some water, beer, and wine. The captain set up about 6 or 7 lines and we went trolling, unfortunately the swells were pretty high on one side of the island and I spent most of the 4 hour ride with my head hanging over the side of the boat. Needless to say, we never drank the wine. After about 2 hours, we still hadn't caught anything. We ended up catching one yellow fin tuna that was about 15lbs. My husband got up in the chair at one point and started to reel in another yellow fin, but unfortunately it got off the line before he reeled it all the way in. We went to the other side of the island which had less swells, but unfortunately, we didn't catch anything else. All in all, not a really great day. The captain told us that they usually catch more. If you want to set this up, just email greg@seafari.co.ck at Seafari Fishing Charters. The website is www.seafari.co.ck. The price is 130NZD pp that includes 4.5 hours of fishing, gear, bait, ice, and tuna fish sandwiches made by the captain's wife. They tell you it includes drinks, but they didn't provide them to us. We wished we had gone to see the interior of the island; from what other people said it was beautiful. After that, we were going to jump on a bus around the island, but I was still feeling too queasy. So we just walked into town. The shops were much nicer than I expected them to be. PS We heard from other cruisers that this was the cheapest place to get black pearls mainly because of the strength of the dollar vs. NZD. Tuesday, June 27th - At Sea This day was much sunnier and we spent almost all of it sunning on the deck. I would highly recommend getting a deck chair before about 10am because the good ones are usually taken by about 10:30AM. They had the French Polynesian officials on board for immigration inspection which everyone had to attend and they gave us back our passports. We saw part of the show this night. It was better than the dancing skunks, but still not very impressive and we left about 10minutes into it again. Wednesday, June 28th - Raiatea/Tahaa We had read mixed reviews of Brunos le excursion bleue snorkeling excursion here, but the couple from Arizona that we met on Marks tour were doing it and another couple from Patrick's tour. We had tried to sign up for it ahead of time, but he said he was full. At first, when we went to the dock, he wasn't very friendly and told us that all 12 spots were booked. When all 12 people showed up, we started walking away to find another tour, but Bruno stopped us and said that everyone was tiny enough that we could all fit. So we left in his canoe to head over to Tahaa and there was plenty of room. We first stopped at a pearl farm similar to the one on Marc's excursion, but here they were actually grafting the pearls instead of just demonstrating it. Then we walked along the dock into the pearl farm owner's house where they showed us all of the different grades and shapes of the pearls and then of course, tried to sell us their jewelry designs. I don't really like black pearls, but she had a lot of nice pieces and a very large selection. It was pretty neat to see their houses. There were quite a few people who lived there and they had mosquito nets around their beds as well as numerous dogs. (Dogs and chickens run wild around all of the French Polynesian islands. The chickens are not afraid of you!) After some people bought some jewelry, we headed off to a vanilla farm. Here they provided us with fresh pineapple, mango juice, and pancakes. They showed us how the vanilla was grown and dried. You could buy some of course. Bruno also pointed out many other different types of flora. Bruno then took us to a motu with a lagoonarium. They had sharks, large fish, rays, and 2 turtles that Bruno picked up and showed us. They also had a few poisonous fish that Bruno braved the water for to show us such as a stone fish, conch, blow fish, and a really pretty yellow fish, but I don't remember it's name. We then were able to snorkel off of the dock. It wasn't very deep, but if you swam out to a certain point, it just dropped off into oblivion - kind of frightening! There were lots of beautiful fish here. We then had lunch on the motu (not as exciting as in the water). We had wine, coconut fried fish, pineapple, coconut bread, & sweet potatoes. We then left for one more snorkel. Bruno took us to the coral gardens. He anchored the boat, and then we walked onto the beach and to the other side of the island. The drift would take us back to the boat. You had to where shoes for this, no fins. Bruno told us we could push off the coral carefully, but told us to avoid the black sea urchins because they would sting our skin. This was the most amazing snorkeling we had ever seen! You had to be really careful to avoid running into the coral. It was very shallow, and I could stand almost the whole time. We saw an octopus and touched a sea anemone also. A few people ended up with cuts, but Bruno had antiseptic to put on them. We then left to go back to the dock. Bruno drove us around Tahaa and a flying fish almost landed in our boat. He made us rum punch drinks on the way back. Visit www.tahaa.net for reservations. We made it back just in time to see the children of Tamarii Raiatea perform their dances. This is the only entertainment that I would recommend on the ship. This was also tropical night. They had another dancing group perform that night on the deck and they were also amazing. This was their champagne waterfall night with late night buffet. There were some ice carvings and many food carvings. It was really nice. They played music and you could dance on the deck. Thursday, June 29th - Bora Bora We set sail this morning for Bora Bora. We first took a sail around Tahaa. My fiancE and I went to the gym that morning to work out and it was the perfect view of the island. We pulled up to Bora Bora around 11:30 and the views were some of the most amazing I have ever seen. The water here was about every shade of blue imaginable. We met up with our friends from the other tours to try and arrange a snorkeling or jet skiing tour. There were many tour group opportunities waiting at the dock. Unfortunately, all of the jet skis were rented for the day. So we decided on a ½ day snorkeling tour through Magic Snorkel Safari reserved at the dock for 6500CFP per person. We met at the dock at 1:30. There were 8 of us from the ship. He first took us to some coral gardens where it was pretty rough. We fed the fish there, but they weren't that colorful. It was probably about 12 feet deep and there were divers below us. The guide then took us to swim with the stingrays. The guide fed them so they were swarming all around us. They are very soft, but we had done this in Grand Cayman so it wasn't as exciting. He then took us out of the lagoon, stopped the boat, and told us we were going to swim with the sharks here. Another girl and I weren't brave enough to go in the water, but my husband did and said that it was pretty intense. We could see plenty enough from the boat. The guide fed the reef sharks and about a dozen of them came and he also harpooned a red snapper in the water. Next, he took us on a circle island tour around the lagoon. He pointed out John Travolta's house, the airport, and all the hotels including a $10000 per night 3 bedroom over-water bungalow with its own pool. He then took us to a motu where we ate pineapple at a picnic table in the water. It was the best pineapple we had the whole trip. There were hermit crabs all over the shoreline. The other people on the tour wanted to do some more snorkeling (I had had enough) so the guide took us to another area with coral gardens which apparently would not have been that interesting had it not been for the giant eel they saw. Friday, June 30th - Bora Bora For our second day in Bora Bora, we were planning on renting a scooter to drive around the island, as according to Frommer's, it is only 19miles, but apparently they don't rent any scooters now because of all of the potholes (Frommer's still says you can rent them). So we rented 2 bikes instead for $35 for both of us for all day. They had baskets on the front to carry our stuff. One road goes around the entire island so you can't get lost. We followed Frommer's advice and went counterclockwise around the island. Unfortunately, we wished we had gone the other way first, because by 10am we were at Bloody Mary's. We went in and looked around real quick, then decided to ride back later for a drink. We then passed the Hotel Bora Bora and Matira Beach. This beach is supposedly rated most romantic in the world, but other than the fact that it is in Bora Bora, it wasn't that special. We rode through the hotel district and through some small towns. There was only one hill that we had to ride up, but it was worth it as the views of Mount Otemanu and the lagoon were amazing. Going down the windy hill was much more fun. This side of the island was beautiful with amazing foliage and coconut plantations. There were many places to stop for pictures. We made it back to the rental shop in about 3.5 hours, but we decided to go back to Matira Beach. The water here was really clear so we snorkeled a little and then rested on the beach for about an hour. We then went back to Bloody Mary's. It wasn't very crowded. The floor is sand and they have a shoe check. The chairs are made of palm tree trunks and you simply must see the bathroom. We had a bloody Mary ($6.50) and a Catamaran ($8.50) at the bar. The atmosphere was great. So we stayed and got a Mai Tai ($12) and a Hinano ($3.50). Save your money and get the cheaper Catamaran - it tasted better. There was also a white Persian cat lying on the bar that we played with and took pictures with for a while. This was the 2nd formal night and this was the only night that I felt motion sick on the cruise ship, but this was only in the Lounge which was on the top deck and the dining room. I was fine back in our room. I think this was because we had a room in the middle of the ship and we didn't feel the movement as much. This was the Captains Circle Party for previous Princess cruisers and honeymooners where we took pictures with the captain. This was lobster night and the dessert was Baked Alaska. Saturday, July 1 - Moorea Here we decided to try and find a 4WD excursion to do since everything we read said that Moorea was one of the most beautiful islands in French Polynesia. It certainly was breathtaking. At the dock, we met Edna who offered us a 4WD 2-hour excursion for $30pp if we found 2 other people to go. So we waited on the dock for the next few tenders and ran into the honeymooning couple from the fishing trip and they decided to join us. Edna took us through the valley and showed us her house and some pineapple plantations. We then stopped at an agricultural school to taste jelly & marmalade that was made there - we could have done without this part. We then drove up many windy roads to get to Belvedere Lookout where the views were amazing. We also stopped at a juice factory where unfortunately they don't give tours anymore (another point where Frommer is wrong), but they did let us try about 8 different shots including 80 proof vanilla rum, vanilla cream liquor, pineapple/coconut, grapefruit, banana liquor and a drink called Tahiti Drink (my favorite!). We had all of these in a period of about 3 minutes. I wanted to get some souvenirs and some Tahiti Drink here to take back with us, but my husband had the brilliant idea of getting them back in Papeete where he assured me they would be cheaper. So we left and stopped at a pearl shop where they were watching France play in the World Cup. Then Edna dropped us off at the Sheraton beach and said she would come back and pick us up. We explored the hotel a little and walked out on the piers where the over-water bungalows were. We were really hoping to see into one, but no one came out. We grabbed 2 chairs on the beach and relaxed. There was a water sport place right on the beach and we wished that we had realized sooner you could go parasailing. Edna came back to pick us up and luckily there were other people who needed to go back to the ship also so it was only $20 for the 6 of us. We had to have our luggage outside of our room by 10pm this night. Sunday, July 2 - Papeete All the shops in Papeete except for maybe 2 right along the dock were closed because it was Sunday as well as the shops on the ship so no luck for souvenirs or Tahiti Drink! We walked around Papeete for about 2 hours looking for any shops that were open, but it was fruitless. We did see some of the locals singing in church. We decided to get back on the ship and hang out at the pool, as we had to be out of the room by 10am. They had a place to check our carry-on bags on deck 10 and as we did not take Princess transfers, our luggage was kept at the dock for us all day. They had all of the normal meals on the ship. Dinner was open seating this night and we arranged to meet up with some of the people we met on our excursions. We had to pick up our carry-on bags by 7 pm so we grabbed them before dinner. We were worried about taking them to dinner with us but almost everyone else did also and the waiters had a place for us to put them. After dinner, we walked around the deck one last time. We had to be off the ship by 8pm, but they were still calling numbers for the Princess transfers as we got off at 8:30. We got a taxi with one of the couples from our excursions and it only cost $30 between the 4 of us. There was a huge line for the 11:30pm flight when we got there. I highly recommend getting a cart because you have to keep your luggage with you the whole time you are standing in line. They check your passports while you are in line. The whole airport is an open-air building with fans. We couldn't imagine how hot it would be in there if it was a summer afternoon. After 2 hours, we finally made it up to the check-in desk where they gave us our boarding passes and weighed our luggage. We then had to take our luggage with us again over to the security point where they put it through a detector and then we went through security. There are 3 stores at the airport. The cheapest one is the 2nd one you come to after going through security, although the first one had the best selection. They even had Tahiti drink! My husband bought a 6 pack of Hinano to take back even though it cost $19. We started boarding about ½ hour later. They gave us flowers once again as we got on the plane. This flight was much more full. Unfortunately we had 2 extremely rude people in front of us who decided midway through take-off to lean their chairs back as far as they could go and then they kept fidgeting so the chair kept bouncing up and down in my face. It was the most uncomfortable 8 hours I have ever experienced because the guy failed to put up his seat throughout the whole entire trip. Luckily they had different movies this time (not that I could see them very well with the monitor right in my face). The meal on the way back was a snack consisting of pasta, a roll, and some yogurt. Breakfast was an omelet or a crepe, fruit, a roll, and yogurt. When we landed in LAX, we had to wait for our luggage after going through customs. Customs was much less thorough than we expected them to be; they didn't even ask us anything. We then had to take our luggage through customs and drop it off at the transfer center so it would be sent to Philly. When we finally made it to the gate, our flight to Chicago was loading. It left right on time. When we got to Chicago however our flight was delayed an hour so we ended up getting in an hour late after 24 hours of traveling! All in all, it was the best vacation we have ever done. The islands of French Polynesia were nothing like the islands of the Caribbean. They were more mountainous, the people were friendlier, they were much less developed, and the flora were the most amazing we have ever seen. Our only regret would be not booking a precruise stay, as we will probably never get here again. I would also recommend emailing to set up the excursions in this review much sooner than we did, as a lot of them were full. Unfortunately, we were planning our wedding and didn't have time to think about it until 1 week before we left. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
We would like to start by saying that the Tahitian Princess is a beautiful ship; the ports visited (Cook Islands itinerary) were awesomely romantic and beautiful; and the people, both on the ship and on the islands, were some of the most ... Read More
We would like to start by saying that the Tahitian Princess is a beautiful ship; the ports visited (Cook Islands itinerary) were awesomely romantic and beautiful; and the people, both on the ship and on the islands, were some of the most hospitable we have ever met! If you are contemplating this cruise, hesitate no further: book it and enjoy! Our many thanks to both the Cruise Critic site and the Tahiti-Explorer site for the ample information received! We flew from Chicago on AA, then after a pre-pre-cruise visiting family in LA, we went from LA to Papeete via Air New Zealand: great flights, ANZ has foot rests, headrests that curve in and support the neck, and seats that push up somewhat like a recliner when you push back; it was a 767 across to the South Pacific. One word of caution, there is a 50 pound weight limit on the bags: AA was very strict about this; ANZ has this, too; in addition, ANZ has a 15 pound carry-on limit. The Papeete flight was during the night; a hot meal was served right after take-off and a cold breakfast before landing. We arrived Papeete at 5:30 AM, to musicians playing in Faa airport. We gathered our checked luggage, went to the ATM to get around $200 US in French Polynesian frances, headed to customs, and went to the left exit which says "nothing to declare" and we were port side, awaiting our fast ferry to Moorea by 6:15, having French cafe au lait! (Cab was $35, because of luggage) The Moorea bound ferries leave the pier very regularly, from early morning until late afternoon; roundtrip was bought on the spot for $18 per person, and they accept credit cards; the fast ferry left at 7:05 and we were dockside at Moorea by 7:35 AM; we walked a very short way to AvisPacificar to get our car, which we had reserved for 6 days; we booked this using the Avis 800 number, 5 months in advance, used triple A discount and got stick shift (air was included) and the rate, including insurance, was $350 US for 6 days. Be forewarned that they hold a $600 deductible deposit against your credit card until you return the car. We were very happy with this economy, but sufficient Citroen French car. We had booked two nights at the Moorea Intercontinental Overwater Bungalow, One night Sheraton Horizon Overwater Bung. and two nights Pension Motu Iti: all accommodations well surpassed expectations! (hint: join the Interconti's Ambassador club: entitles you to free upgrades and gives you a free weekend night stay anywhere; this saved us $700!)The snorkeling right off our owb at the interconti was very nice, but improved immensely when we took the $10 transfer (from the hotel's dock) to the two motus: snorkel between the two motus for some pretty decent snorkeling and bring some money to have lunch at La Plage restaurant, located on one of the motus--delicious food and cold Hinanos! The overwaters at the Interconti Moorea are fabulous--they are attached in the back to a motu, it is true, but they are as much overwater as any overwater needs to be! there is a living room, nice bedroom, beautiful marble bathroom, and a very nice deck with table and chairs, and of course the ladder down to the beautiful lagoon for swimming and snorkeling! We had dinner one night at Les Tipaniers (excellent) and one night at the Hibiscus' Le Sunset (also very good) After two nights, we moved for one night at the Sheraton Horizon Overwater, because we heard the snorkeling was so great, and it was fantastic!! we had HOWB number 82--it was beautiful, with a lower deck and outside shower, too. the snorkeling in the horseshoe and further out from the bungalows is truly some of the best we have ever done; a little choppy at times, but nothing too bad and not ever too deep! We had cocktails in the overwater bar, and breakfast there, too; they serve great breakfast at this overwater bar and great crepes at night; we also ate in the sit down rest. there, it was very nice, too. Then we moved to the Pension Motu Iti, less than a mile from the Sheraton; our original intent was to check in and then keep going back to the Sheraton to snorkel; this wasn't necessary--the snorkeling at the Pension Motu Iti was wonderful, too; also, free use of kayaks, which were great fun! We had a lagoon front bungalow, king sized bed, nice deck, and small but spotless bathroom. There was plenty of breeze, being right on the lagoon, which was good, as there was no air conditioning, and no screens; we kept the windows open at night, sprayed ourselves with off (25%deet) and slept in the mosquitoes net and never got a single mozzie bite; there was a television, but no fridge; however, we had our collapsible cooler with us for drinks and snacks; there is no safety deposit box, but we had an "otter box" for dry, safe keeping of our passports while we snorkeled. This was a lovely Pension; we took half board from them one night (great MahiMahi) then walked to Aito's the last night of our pre-cruise, which was a lot of fun and great wine by the glass. During our pre-cruise time, we also did a lot of shopping at the little stores scattered around Moorea, we did our own island tours, including going up to Belvidere lookout. WE also ate at the Blue Pineapple L'annans bleu (Club Bali Hai one day, and even though it started pouring, we had a wonderful lunch of poisson cru, cheeseburgers and hinano's; the views there in Cook's Bay are awe inspiring! We loved Moorea! The morning of 6.22.06, we returned the car on Moorea, took the fast ferry back and walked with our luggage to the Tahitian Princess (about a 4 block walk) and checked in; they keep your passports until after the Cook Islands; Check-in was a breeze; it was 11:30; we were told our cabin would be ready by 1:30; we boarded and had lunch; our cabin was ready by 1PM. The balcony cabin was lovely! We slept every night with our balcony door open and we truly enjoyed the balcony!! the bathroom is small but adequate (great shower) there is plenty of storage everywhere; fridge, safety box, tv, all the normal good stuff! plus, right across from our cabin was a self serve laundromat (bring US quarters, or get them at the Purser's); they even supply the detergent! Let me talk about the food and activities on board next; then I will finish with our excursions. We went to the breakfast buffet everyday but one; you can go in your swimsuit and pareo (cover-up); it is very relaxed and we always found plenty of choices!! Lots of fruit, eggs, yogurt, cereal,etc. A truly wonderful buffet, with 24 hour coffee that is delicious! You can also buy cappuccino's, etc, which I occasionally did. One morning we ate in the sit-down restaurant, just to try it; it was also good, but of course took more time and you couldn't wear a swimsuit. Lunch we always ate at the buffet: again, always delicious, ample choices, desserts, we just don't know how anyone could complain about these buffets! always casual attire acceptable; Ice cream was served every afternoon and was yummy! We ate every night but two in the main dining room; we had a table for 8; the table guests were wonderful, lots of fun: a honeymoon couple, a couple from Australia, and a couple from San Fran that had visited 82 other countries already!! Great group! You could choose as much of whatever as you wanted, and there were always ample choices of several courses; one night my husband ate 5 lobster tails; we had the late sitting and really enjoyed this, as it allowed us to have cocktails on our balcony first (we brought on our own hinano's (beer) and wine)and we could stop at the small but fun casino and play the draw poker for awhile. Now, about the seventh night, we found out that you could order anything you want from the main restaurant from room service and have it brought to your cabin; so we went and looked at the menu that is posted outside the main restaurant (room service will bring you the menu for the night, too) we wrote down all the food we wanted, and for the price of the gratuity, ate on our balcony; we had the food unloaded on our queen bed and it took up almost the whole bed; my husband served me out on the balcony; it was very romantic. One other night, we went to the Pizzeria; we had gone into Bloody Mary's on Bora Bora for drinks and when we returned, it was a little late and we were rather casually dressed, so we went to the buffet area, which turns into a delicious pizzeria at night; We never once paid to eat at the two specialty restaurants: we never found the need, as we were thrilled with the food at the regular places, as mentioned above. On the morning that you cruise by Tahaa, the night before we had ordered coffee and fruit to be delivered to our cabin at 7 AM and that was great! With your turn down service each night, you are given an order form for the next mring, if you want to have something delivered to your room; you put it on the door by 11 PM and then it is waiting for you, ready to go in the AM. Ship activities were a lot of fun! On the two sea days, we played bingo (all five times), and actually won some money; we entered the Blackjack Torunament (and almost won some money--one hand short of winning $500); entered the Slot tournament, and had a ball; entered the golf pitching tournament and had fun with that; used the fantastic health club twice(you can sign up for the treadmill--it works out pretty smoothly and they had great machines) walked the deck 10 running/walking path; learned how to tie a pareo, watched the Mr. Tahiti contest (way, way funny;) sat in the shade (sometimes sun) and read; swam in the pool and watched gorgeous sunsets; the shows were also quite good, especially the Children of Raiatea, which should not be missed by anyone; the same evening, they have a Tahitian party by the pool deck, and we danced, had the late buffet, and watched another Tahitian dance, singing show that was awesome. By the way, your very first night on board, they present a Tahitian dance show, by the pool, which is great; my husband got chosen to learn the dance with a Tahitian girl as his teacher--a great time was had by all. We also saw the magician one night and he was really, really good. We didn't attend any other shows, but our tablemates went every night and said they were very good. The excursions we chose were chosen independently, with the advice of Cruise Critic and the Tahitian forum, with the exception of one Princess excursion. The second day in Tahiti, we did Patrick Adventures one-half day flora, fauna, waterfalls tour in a 4 X 4; it was truly educational and fun! (you wear your swimsuits and swim in a waterfall towards the end of the morning) we also went to the Marche (public market) and listened to a trio play (cheap beer, too) both afternoons while at Papeete; they were really quite good and the market is the best place to buy a lot of things; the manoi oil was the cheapest we found anywhere--that oil is wonderful! and they have the tahiti soap there very cheap, too. We also shopped the Vaima center downtown Papeete and visited churches, and other sights. I started collecting used posters from everywhere I went the whole two weeks, as they are all in French and I am a French teacher; I will use them in my classroom; the post offices gave me some, the travel bureaus, the video stores, banks, etc; it will be great to have them displaying lots of culture and the French language! On Huahine, we did Marc's full day snorkel/drift snorkel/picnic on a motu in the water tour and it is one of the highest highlights of the trip! (Huahine nautique) Music all afternoon, tons of poisson cru, barbecue, beer; it was awesome! Our Cook island day on Rarotongo we took the public $5 round trip circle island bus; we stopped at Fruits of Rarogonga, as advised here, changed into our snorkel gear, and crossed the street and snorkeled Titikaveka beach; just beautiful; a little chilly for me to stay in very long, but my husband snorkeled for an hour; we had lunch at the Fruits of Rarotonga, finished the island tour by the public bus--it was a great day in a small part of New Zealand! On Raiatea, we shopped the pier--it is really nice, as you get to dock here; we also, walked on our own part of the way up the mountainside to the lookout; we got directions from the tourist bureau right at the dock; lovely little village right there, with some nice restaurants dockside; that afternoon we did our only Princess tour: a half day drift snorkel and boat ride at Tahaa; it was a really beautiful; some people had done Bruno's and they said it was wonderful, but we didn't want a full day excursion. On Bora Bora we went with Moana Tours and did a shark feeding/sting ray/coral gardens 3 hour tour that was another highlight; I didn't think I would be brave enough to get in the open ocean and be with the sharks, but I did and it was beautiful! That night we went to "Bloody Mary's" on our own, but they pick you up right at the tender; Day two on BB we walked and toured and shopped the little village of Vaiatape and really enjoyed ourselves getting to know some more Tahitians! Our final day was back on Moorea: while my husband watched the World Cup, I tendered in (you are on beautiful Cook's Bay and visited the little markets thatey set up there and had some coffee enjoying the view; at 11 AM, we took a cab to the Sheraton ($20) and spent the day snorkeling! My husband said "We have to go back to the Sheraton and snorkel; it may be a long time before we get to snorkel in an "aquarium" again" and so we did; we had some drinks, enjoyed the day there; no one bothered us; in fact there were probably at least 30 other people from the ship there. Our last night, we returned to Papeete, and actually had to get off the ship at midnight to catch our 2:30 AM ANZ flight to LA; we took a cab at midnight, had a smooth ride across the Pacific! They showed three movies both coming and going, but we slept pretty much both nights each way! Customs went well at LAX and we caught our AA flight home, and finally arrived back home very late in the night. What I didn't really hit upon yet are the heart and the soul of this trip: the Polynesian beauty goes well beyond the normal definition of the word. Moorea is our favorite island, as there is not a single inch that isn't naturally well manicured and lush; it has tall, tall mountains, green as green gets, that rest in the clouds to give your eyes views that are mind boggling; it's lagoons were wonderful, too! But we loved every island; of course the lagoons of Bora Bora were the best: the various shades of blue are so vast that you don't know which shade will greet you with your next turn--awesome and so romantic. The Cook islands did not disappoint, either--Raro was beautiful! The ship itself is kept spotless, with rich woods everywhere and relaxation the name of the game; the entertainment crew was so much fun and the whole staff professional. The Polynesian people are heart warming and of a very unique fun loving nature! Life was truly great for 17 wonderful days in the South Pacific for my husband and me, and this is what it is all about for us, as it makes day to day turmoils more bearable the rest of the year. Princess does a very fine job with this 10 day cruise and the romance, excitement and beauty of it all will live on for a long time in our memories!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
We loved every minute of our adventure from Tahiti to Hawaii, with Christmas Island (Kiribati) thrown-in. We had interior cabin 4038, located on Deck 4 next to the Medical Center. The cabin was near both the dining in the Club Restaurant ... Read More
We loved every minute of our adventure from Tahiti to Hawaii, with Christmas Island (Kiribati) thrown-in. We had interior cabin 4038, located on Deck 4 next to the Medical Center. The cabin was near both the dining in the Club Restaurant (2nd Seating at 8:15 p.m) and great entertainment (mostly off-Broadway-type shows, magic and comedy) in the Tahitian Lounge. Food, service, friendliness of the staff and particularly safety are emphasized. We booked on Hotwire and felt we got the best price on a great ship. Only negative is that they refer to Asians as "Orientals" which is one of those "politically incorrect phrases" from a more racist age that angers a large number of potential customers. I particularly liked Christmas Island, with its challenging tender ride. The people there actually greeted the ship with children singing in school uniforms on the beach. I observed one touching moment; seeing a ship's officer handing out Tahitian Princess caps and school supplies to local children (away from the view of the passengers.) Look for a goat on Christmas Island to pet. We didn't find this "must do" excursion, but we heard from others that "the goat" deserves our attention. On sea days we did laundry for $1.00 per load in the Deck 7 facilities. It felt good to have clean underwear. The cruise director and assistant cruise director were outstanding; they must never sleep! We love the morning "Wakey-Wakey" TV show and survival French lessons that were offered. Drinks, photos and spa treatment are affordable. Be careful about spending too much in the casino though. Enjoyed excursions sailing in Raitea and land excursions on Bora Bora and Moorea. Bring your ATM card to exchange money. The locals prefer French Polynesian money, which makes accounting easier too. The best part of the whole voyage is that I actually miss being on this ship. Some passengers complained that the staff were having "too much fun", but I think they were simply unhappy with their own lives. Buffet was great with free unlimited decaf, tea and coffee. We used the ship's doctor and had a great experience. She's busy so don't expect miracles. Bring some insect repellent and sunscreen and use it to prevent problems. You should expect that cruising 3000 miles from home may take you out of your comfort zone. One guy totally "lost-it" because his soft boiled egg was "too soft" and didn't had an egg cup... "just like home!" Gee, if you want everything to be like home, don't travel! The "Crossing the Equator" was great fun; I won't give away the surprise, but wear your bathing suit! Wait staff in the dining room were great and our cabin steward was exceptional. The food has a definite French influence since the executive chef is from France. So as you can expect, the bread and rolls were excellent. The nightly desserts were to die for with artful presentations and we have the pounds to prove it! We met a number of people who had been on 15-16 Princess cruises. So it would appear that this cruise line caters to repeat business. We had two formal nights and even though we were told people don't dress up, they did. Lot's of men were in tuxedos and since we took formal pictures by the staircase, the photos were keepers! Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. I appreciated the tight security when boarding and leaving the ship (metal detectors and x-ray machines). There was also security staff on watch for fires aboard. We also observed the crew undergoing safety drills in the event of an emergency. I somehow felt a lot safer on the ship than at the airport or on the plane. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We booked the cruise starting 9-05-06 to Polynesia/Rarotonga. It was one of the best holidays we have had. The crew could not do enough for us. They were wonderful. We arrived by Air Tahiti Nui and spent the first night at the ... Read More
We booked the cruise starting 9-05-06 to Polynesia/Rarotonga. It was one of the best holidays we have had. The crew could not do enough for us. They were wonderful. We arrived by Air Tahiti Nui and spent the first night at the Inter-continental Hotel at about 10.pm. When we checked out at 10.30 the next morning there were about 20 people in one queue also checking out. We had to wait about 45 minutes in very hot weather because the hotel would not open another counter, even though other staff did not appear to be very busy. When I complained, the girl did not even respond with an apology. The rooms in this hotel were very dated. The meals in the restaurant were about 4 times the price I pay at home for a similar meal. If you are going on the Tahitian Princess, do NOT stay at this hotel unless exorbitant prices do not bother you. We boarded the ship at about 12.00 and although you could not go to your rooms until 1.00pm we could have lunch on the ship while we were waiting which was a big plus. We had a balcony stateroom, very roomy and clean. The person who cleaned our room was very efficient. As soon as we left the room in the morning for breakfast she was immediately in there cleaning it. One problem I was not happy about was it is not a non-smoking ship. The Casino smelt very strongly of tobacco smoke most of the time. The Tahitian lounge also smelled of tobacco. They could have provide special vented rooms for smokers. Book excursions ashore and not on the boat. It is much cheaper and there are always people at the stops willing to take you places. We shared taxis etc with other people we met on the ship. I snorkeled and swam at all the ports. Very enjoyable.I thought the food was superb. Breakfast in the Club Restaurant was a bit slow although we had most of our breakfasts in the Panorama Buffet Restaurant. The dinner meals were fantastic. Plenty of food and of a very high quality. The waiters were amazing! After the cruise we stayed again at the Inter-Continental. As the prices for meals were so high, on principle, we were not prepared to have a full dinner, so we just shared a plate of French fries.(We needed to loose weight after such wonderful food on the ship anyway!) Air Tahiti Nui told us at the airport the plane was going to be an hour late. In fact it was 2.5 hours late and when we eventually boarded we had to wait 30 minutes on board with no explanation or apology. The inflight entertainment system did not appear to be working correctly. Not one of the best airlines I have travelled on. We will be going on another cruise with Princess. We met wonderful people on board and it was very relaxing. The worst part was when we had to leave the ship. I recommend this cruise but the beginning and end at the hotel Inter-Continental left a lot to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Background Information - This was our honeymoon and our first cruise. Overall we will cruise again and I am actually planning a carnival cruise in August. Ship Info - With nothing to compare it to we thought it was nice. Clean, well ... Read More
Background Information - This was our honeymoon and our first cruise. Overall we will cruise again and I am actually planning a carnival cruise in August. Ship Info - With nothing to compare it to we thought it was nice. Clean, well maintained. Activities - Activites, what activities. Service - This is where things get interesting. We asked for robes in our cabin and basically had to beg for them. One day I was eating pizza from the buffet area and found myself chewing on a pop tab. Took it to the F&B Supervisor in the area and showed it to him. He asked for where we would be eating that night (The steakhouse). So we get to dinner that night, he is there but never ever approaches us. So we get all ticked off that nothing was ever done and write about it on our cruise survey on the last day. At the last dinner the Head Waiter approached us to say that they were going to offer us a bottle of wine as an appology. Well I don't drink wine, when my husband picked out a $48 bottle of wine he was told that there was a price limit and to pick something cheaper. Well that ticked us off even more. In the end he got a $32 bottle, I wonder what would have they done if I had swallowed the pop tab and gotten very sick. I think they would have been paying out more than $32. Shore Excursions - One of the girls at the shore excursion desk is amazing, her name was Jody, she took very good care of us, managing to get us on the Bora Bora night dive only 2 hours before pickup. The excursions were good for the most part, we did every dive offered, we dove once in Raiatea, 3 times in Bora Bora, and once in Moorea. We purchased a DVD from the dive shop in Moorea that didn't have on it what it was supposed to, at the time of this review we still have not received a replacement, although we are told its on the way. Summary - A beautiful ship and while the service on this ship was seriously lacking we realized that we do enjoy cruising and will probably do a lot more of it in the future. Stateroom - A Balcony stateroom was gorgeous, we didn't get to see any other rooms to compare to but it was spacious, we do have a couple of complaints, one was the size of the bathroom. You couldn't sit straight on the toilet. The other was that the balcony had an obstructed view and there was no indication of that when we booked, had we known we would have booked another room. Dining - Food was absolutely excellent in the dinner area, after the first couple of nights the waiters had our drink orders waiting on the table when we walked in. Buffet was lacking, very limited and they either over or under cooked most stuff. Entertainment - We only watched a couple of shows, very amateur. Nothing spectacular. The one thing we did enjoy was the comedian Randy Lubas, he was hilarious. Disembarkation - Easy, if you wanted to leave the ship earlier than 8:30AM, then you kept your bags and had a porter take you for them when you wanted to leave. They were down there and waiting before we got down there. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
May 29, 2006 LAX TO PAPETTE - 12 DAYS TAHITI TO HAWAII GETTING THERE Air Tahiti Nui-1:00PM flight. Airport was easy and we waited over a hour for boarding..there is lots of places to eat plus a great restaurant and bar. (Go to lax.com) ... Read More
May 29, 2006 LAX TO PAPETTE - 12 DAYS TAHITI TO HAWAII GETTING THERE Air Tahiti Nui-1:00PM flight. Airport was easy and we waited over a hour for boarding..there is lots of places to eat plus a great restaurant and bar. (Go to lax.com) One of the best flights 8hrs 20 min...2 hot meals, wine, beer, sodas, small choice of liquor, free also fresh flower upon boarding with a small bag of socks, eye mask, ear plugs, ear phones, wipes, pillow, Blanket. New head covers and foot rest, personal TV with movies, games and programs. You can get up and walk around freely...we were in row 22, but there was room in back so we took a row in the middle and could spread out. Remember they all speak French! A lot of shipmates on board. (2-5-2 seating) Quiet flight, I did not see but one child about 8 years old. The 3PM flight got delayed 11 hours, they had to bring a part from Tahiti to fix. They all got in at 4:30AM, held ship for 160 people---talked with a few cruiser's later and they said they got room credits for the delay. They were all pleased but tired for 2 days. This ship is not for children...think 5-6 on this cruise. All age groups, we had 21 honeymoon couples. Mostly couples, some gay. Lots of fun, we sat at dinner with 6 from all over England. EMBARKATION Got off plane, went through customs, bus waiting, but you have to get your own luggage from inside to outside. No help from airport. Then you pull it out front..it must have a ship tag, they take it and put it in a large container. You wonder all the way to the ship if you are going to get your luggage or are they highjacking it? A quick bus ride to the ship...we are platinum but all check in was quick. Walked onto ship and they had dinner for us open seating and a show with the local dancers. After that our luggage had arrived in our room. We (I) unpacked, and went to bed. SHIP The smallest we have been on, but I loved it. All public areas are very clean. I also hate that they do not use seat covers for public restrooms. The Captain, Crew, Cruise director and most every one on the ship has my vote for the best we have ever had on a cruise. Captain is hands on, walks around and talks to every one. Ship easy to get around. Be prepared for a very small pool and casino. We crossed the equator and they dumped the Captain in the pool (good Sport) after pouring all kinds of jello and food on him. Smoking bars (3) and deck 5 outside. DINING Love the look..dining room is like a grand ship (also Grand stairway) pictures done there, do it!!! I loved the buffet...everything seemed so fresh and made to order. We ate there mostly..got tired of dining room. Booked Steak House, was very good. Sabintini's was just ok for me. The buffet had fresh pasta everyday and in the afternoon the same was in the dining room and night sometimes. One day they got a whole fresh tuna from one of the island's for lunch...the best and freshest ever. Buffet has a salad bar, fruit all the time, beverage bar, cold and hot dishes, Panni bar (*****), ice cream bar, made to order pizza, 2 soup choices, made to order omelettes and eggs, burgers, fries and hot dogs. Breakfast at the buffet was amazing...oatmeal (yummy) cold cereal, yogurt, fruits, juices, 4-5 kinds of meat, potatoes, rice, eggs, omelettes, nuts, dried fruits. Also bagels and lox in room while docking in morning was good. We always ate on the island for lunch to try local foods. Amazing!!! Late night Bistro 11-4AM, we never got there! CABIN 6072. We try to book the same deck tenders are on..port..aft. It is great there. I get a little seasick and we found after many cruises to stay low and back near middle. You are close to lifts and the balcony always has a large cover over it. It was a great location to everything...1 floor down to dinner, can walk and 3 decks up to Panorama Buffet, Pool, Pool Bar. Outside seating by pool and large balcony(Patio) off out the back buffet doors that open auto. There is also a coffee bar there. Also, everything is on deck 5. I was happy with the size of the cabin and balcony (had 2 plastic chairs and a small table) but unhappy with the state of the room. Was not clean enough for me the bedding, sheets and towels need upgrading, and the drapes smelled of smoke. I asked my cabin steward to take off the bedspread and never bring it back and then double sheet our bed everyday. It then felt cleaner. I always travel with Clorox wipes and Lysol. I cleaned everything after we got back on ship after first day in port. ENTERTAINMENT Island shows, comedian. We didn't go to many shows, we have late seating so some times we were still at dinner until 10:30, we had a lot of fun. We also ate off ship in Riatea, ate Pizza 1 night plus the 2 restaurants. I enjoyed movies under the stars 2 nights, when we were at sea. ADVENTURES ASHORE we did not book anything from ship. Rented cars and boats did our own snorkeling and road tours. There are locals on all ports to book the same thing that ship has. We meet other couples and got great deal's together. Xmas Island...if you are not off 1st tender not much to do. You do not need to rush to get off. Tenders take 45 min. to get to dock. Make sure you rent cars for Hawaii or there will not be any. We hooked up with Dollar then rented the other Island's while we were in Dollar, that way we had a van waiting to pick us up. Tahiti rental cars about $55, Hawaii $65-95. American dollars were taken everywhere--no problem! They don't give us change...we took 100 one dollar bills and used them in Tahiti. They mostly take master/visa and cash. We cashed traveler checks on ship after dinner for the next day. We did not exchange any money. DISEMBARKATION Out of room at 8am, they have public waiting areas, you can eat. Again, we had a Platinum Lounge. It depends on your travel plans...if you have an early flight, you get off first, they even have a tour if your flight is later. We got off last, stayed in Hawaii for 3 days, had own transportation. I recommend this cruise to everyone...we wish we had the whole family with us. French Polynesia is beautiful...pictures can not show the beauty. On the Islands, book something, shop early, go to water the rest of day and by 3pm it gets really hot, so be back on ship or in water with sunscreen. Things close down early and during the day for lunch. Try the local foods, the people are wonderful, the food is french so have french fries, french bread (baguettes) sandwiches, Poisson Cru'e, fresh tuna salad with coconut juice & lime, crepes w/ice cream and buy vanilla beans. We would do it all over again. Was not too long, very busy first 5 days until at sea. Early to bed-early to rise!! The days are short--dark by 5PM remember because winter is June, July and August. We had great weather and no rain while on Islands, except Xmas Island. E-mail me if I can answer any questions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Boarded the Tahitian Princess on May 29, 2006 after two nights at the Sheraton Tahiti, a lovely hotel, very reasonable priced with an excellent location within two miles of the airport as well as within 3 miles of the ship. This ... Read More
Boarded the Tahitian Princess on May 29, 2006 after two nights at the Sheraton Tahiti, a lovely hotel, very reasonable priced with an excellent location within two miles of the airport as well as within 3 miles of the ship. This ship's capacity was 670 passengers and was quite intimate. We sailed in a minisuite #8049 and it was perfect. Huge verandah, lots of closet space and exquisitely appointed. Furnishings were like a fine hotel not a ship. The itinerary was incredible with stops in Moorea, Raritaia, Bora Bora, Christmas Island, Hilo, Lahina (Maui), and ending in Honolulu. We had to skip a scheduled stop at Lihue, due to a technical problem while in Hilo. The crew was flawless, they took such care of our needs and knew our names in just a few days. Even the captain is always around decks and in dining rooms. We loved the entertainment staff, the dancers were so talented and worked so hard to put on quality productions in a limited show room. All the dining staff were so congenial and helpful. We ate in the alternative dining rooms as well as the main dining salon and enjoyed them all. Because of the small passenger capacity there was never a delay or a line in any location on the ship including the buffets at lunch and breakfast. All disembarkations and embarkations went without delay or crowds. We are definitely sold on the smaller ships. I have never enjoyed a cruise more than this one and have been on about thirty of them. I will say this, the shore excursions were outrageously priced and we found alternatives at each board after disembarking at a fraction of the costs. I really believe that if you are an independent traveler you would do yourself a real financial favor by making your own arrangements, we did and had a blast. This cruise runs in both directions three times per year. It is an exceptional itinerary and the four days at sea are perfect for rest and relaxation. I also need to add that the public rooms are all beautifully decorated and such a rich style compared to the superliners that we have cruised on previously. Disembarkation in Honolulu took all of 15 mins and we were in a cab. It really was a flawless cruise from beginning to end. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We booked a pre-cruise hotel, at the Intercontinental Beachcomber. Our flight with Air Tahiti Nui over was OK, long flight. Passport control at Papette was slow. The hotel was great, very nice, got an upgrade to a over water bungalow! Food ... Read More
We booked a pre-cruise hotel, at the Intercontinental Beachcomber. Our flight with Air Tahiti Nui over was OK, long flight. Passport control at Papette was slow. The hotel was great, very nice, got an upgrade to a over water bungalow! Food was expensive. Papette was a disappointment, dirty, crowded, non-tourist friendly. Took one tour, 1/2 'safari' to the 'crater'. Bumpy, heavy traffic, not much to look at. Boarding was simple and efficient. We loved the size of the ship, the entire crew was wonderful. Ship is very nice, clean, room (BA 8033) was very nice, plenty of storage, and large. We found the service to be top notch, especially the room steward (Caesar) and the spa staff (Mike). Best deal on the ship is the spa private deck and hot tub for $15 a day. We reserved both sea days there. Be sure to book spa services first thing. We also pre-booked all excursion on the internet well in advance and suggest that process to everyone. Food was good, except for the soups. We did not try the speciality dining, we were very pleased with the traditional dining. The wait staff did a good job and we really enjoyed the head waiters. For shore excursions - on Huahine we took the 'sacred sights' tour and it was lousy, nothing to really see, hot and the guide droned on and on. We did the snorkel safari in the afternoon and it was OK. On Raratonga we did the Muri lagoon tour and it was fine, good snorkeling, food and fun. On Raratonga we booked Bruno's tour via the internet and it was GREAT. Bruno did an excellent out standing job, we spent the entire day, great lunch and saw a lot. On Bora Bora we did the snorkel safari and ray ballet which was really good. My husband did a 2 tank dive there, which was disappointing due to lousy visibility. We also hired a taxi at the dock and did a circle tour of the island, which was very nice. On Moorea, (the prettiest island) we did a circle tour/Tiki Village which was really nice. Even though most shops were closed, they opened the Village and put on a show just for us. We finished the tour with the dolphin encounter, which was awesome! At the end of that tour, I slipped and hurt my ankle. After we got back to the ship, went to medical and the x-ray showed it was broken. The medical staff and all of the crew did an outstanding job taking of me. The cost was very reasonable too! Could not have been in better hands! Overall, it was an outstanding cruise. The islands are nice, but did not have the beautiful beaches we had hoped for. We travel to Maui a lot and maybe we are spoiled with the Maui beaches and snorkeling. This cruise is definitely for those who like the water, snorkeling and water excursions. The best part was the wonderful people we met, on the islands, the crew and our fellow passengers. The ship entertainment, considering the size of the ship, was good. The small dance staff did a good job and the costumes were really great. We would have liked to hear the cruise director sing more, he had a great voice. The flight home was a rather poor experience. The flight leaves really really late to LAX, like at 11PM. Princess lets you stay aboard the ship until flight time (but you must leave your room by 10AM), which is good since there is nothing to do or see in Papette. We were able to cruise through customs due the broken ankle. Expect lines and lines and inefficient bureaucracy at the airport. Long long trip home, since our flight from LAX to Oakland was cancelled about 40 minutes before scheduled takeoff. We were put on a flight to SFO, then shuttled to OAK after a big fight at SFO over the shuttle versus BART. Our bags arrived quite late. Overall, getting home took almost 18 hours and add getting up at 7AM in Papette and being let out of our room by 10AM, made for a long two days. Air Tahiti Nui has really awful flights times. Upgrading to business class is well worth the heavy cost by the way. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Things I learned from this cruise: 1. Make sure Air Tahiti checks your luggage all the way thru to your final destination. 2. Be very flexible if booking shore tours on line. 3. Enjoy every minute (we did). 4. Go a day before and stay ... Read More
Things I learned from this cruise: 1. Make sure Air Tahiti checks your luggage all the way thru to your final destination. 2. Be very flexible if booking shore tours on line. 3. Enjoy every minute (we did). 4. Go a day before and stay after the cruise. 5. Always wear a bathing suit and water shoes on all shore tours. 6. Learn French!!! After years of planning we final got to go on this cruise and it was the best ever! We flew out to LAX the day before and stayed at the Westin (booked thru Priceline) Spent the afternoon at Manhattan Beach (took the free trolley). Beaches is a good restaurant, Brew pub fun too! Arrived at LAX early, easy but weird check-in. We used a sky cap right from the free hotel shuttle. He took us and the luggage right in and helped us find our way. Well worth the tip for all his help. Took ATN. Uneventful, long, but lots of movies to see and free drinks too. They suggested we sleep but we just couldnt, too excited. Arrived at night, going thru customs and getting luggage was very easy. We did take a cab and not the Princess bus transfers so we beat the bus crowd to the ship. That was great! We were on the ship by 8 pm, in time to eat dinner. Chris checked us in, later we found out he was the cruise director. It is a very small ship and you get to know the crew well and we really liked that. The cabin was beautiful, we were in 7088. All the wood and giant mirror made it look so much bigger! The cabin has enclosed balcony we loved that. We would have made great use of, if it hadnt rained so much, but we there during the trade winds and the end of rainy season and the tail end of a cyclone. When we got on the ship, the room was still not made up, and they had from 10am that morning. We had to track down our room steward for towels, and pillows. Our room steward left much to be desired! He got better as time went on and was OK by the end. We ate at the buffet very average, but we didnt come for the food. We went to the ship show that nite, it was a local dance group TAE MAEVA and it got us right into vacation mode with great amazing hip action, actually all the local talent was very good and not to be missed. When we arrived we met our new CC friends. They were life savers many times and I cant thank them enough. PAPEETE In Papeete we took Patrick 4x4 with CC group booked online. Very good and I highly recommend it. The scenery was unbelievable I kept waiting for a Dino to come walking out of the trees! Patrick showed all the flowers and flora including bread fruit. We even swam in the water fall. BRRRR My DH couldnt believe I went in my clothes but I was not going to miss a thing and I always wore a bathing suit and water shoes on every shore tour after! After the tour we went to the open air market and bought a beautiful flower arrangement for $15 and it lasted thru the whole cruise. I also bought a flower head band and wore on formal night.. This is where we bought our vanilla beans to bring home, good price and they seem really fresh. We also bought a case of Hinano beer, it was $50 but worth it! No problems bringing back to the ship. When we returned to the ship, our room had not been made up and we again had to track down the room Steward who complain about how hard he had to work and how bad the company was. Later he told us to put the make up room sign on the door and he would do it right away and he did. Muster was taken seriously which was a good thing. I did have my emergency fanny pack beside the bed with IDs, Rx and flashlight but of course we never needed it. We really lucked out with possibly the coolest tablemates ever! It was great fun every night, we all spoke English (inside joke) and were usually the last to leave necessitating a dash to the late show. And to our surprise one couple was one of the CC we had being e-mailing. The service in the dinning room was truly the best ever! Table 34 rules! Erik was with out a doubt the very best waiter ever! The dinning room food was good and what we expected. The Peach Flame is not to be missed! That nite was The Welcome Aboard Show and it was ok. HUAHINE We took Marc tour in Huahine with CC gang. Half went on the land tour, we did water and met up at the picnic It was great. The weather was starting to get rough so Marc was flexible and we were able to snorkel and have a picnic too but not in the usual location so only our toes were in the water instead of up to our waist.. We stopped at a pearl farm; we were not interested in the sales pitch so we snorkeled in the water right there. Lots of parrot fish. This was a great time. We also snorkeled in a coral garden where the current was really strong. At the picnic Marc dressed all the women in pareos and we danced. Local singers sang the whole time. All the food was very good, the raw fish was awesome! This is a must do! Back on the ship the weather started to get bad and it started to rain and rain. We saw barf bags being taped to all the elevators and stairwells. Why they thought we should travel down to Rarotonga is a mystery to me. Later the Capt did come on and said we had force 8 gale winds,. Fortunately, we are good sailors, but most folks were stuck in their cabins for 3 days. We did not go to the show, made an early nite; DH was still on Ohio time. Sea Days It was raining so we couldnt use the balcony; however there were programs all over the ship. We did go to the marriage games show, always a hoot. We watched a lot of good movies and it was fun, the rough weather made the bed seem to have its very own magic fingers and we didnt have to put quarters in! We also went to the art auction. Paul and Jewel were very nice and we had plenty of time to chat and not just about art. We also added to our collection and won a piece of free art. This was the first formal nite. The production show was C'est Magnifique and very good, a surprise to me, since I usually dont like the French production show. The show Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance was also very good. Cruise Director Chris Nichol did a show and he was excellent! RAROTONGA We saw the island thru the rain, but did not even get one good photo of the island before we sailed back. The good news, we were to get extra time in Bora Bora. Since we didnt get to Rarotonga we went down to pick up our passports. It was well organized and easy. On the way to Raiatea around 11:30 pm we were hit by a BIG WAVE! We almost rolled out of bed! Capt came on in the am to say we were never in danger. It was spooky. RAIATEA In Raiatea we had booked Bruno despite what we saw on CC. Big mistake! Now it was still raining and a lot of the Princess shore tours were canceled. Bruno met us at the dock and said he had to cancel the food for the day because of the rain and couldnt take us out. I did feel were dumped. Lucky for us the CC gang had booked Stephan. We were able joined them since some of their folks were sick. We had a good time, we did see the shark feeding, it was really cool. About 3 black tip reef sharks circled around Stephan, we were behind a rope and sharks ignored us. We saw a pod of dolphins swim beside the boat, loved it! We thought it was a good tour, but there were problems. Like not having the private picnic as promised (with at least 2 other groups) when we got to the picnic site the food which was really raw meat was already on the tables and so were the flies. I would have been happy with just some fruit. I must say the snorkeling was superior and the drift snorkeling thru the coral garden was great! Stephan left us at the picnic (we learned later) to pick up another group and we were stuck there for about 2 hours. So we were back to the ship super late. We were supposed to get back at 3 and it was almost 5. We were lucky it was not an early departure day or we would have missed the ship! We just made it in time (not stopping to shower uck) to see the Children of Raiatea folkloric show. This is not to be missed!!! Also the late folkloric show was super! BORA BORA Because of the bad weather we got extra time in Bora Bora. What a beautiful Island! We did a little shopping in the morning. Then took the 4x4 thru Top Dive and had a good time. Because it was still raining Francesca (our driver) kept apologizing for the weather. But we didnt care it was fun in the mud! We went up to the mountain tops to see the WWII gun placements. We have neat unique photos of us in a yellow rain slicker.. We also stopped at a local artist home, with a wonderful view and a Mara`e in the back yard very cool. We were supposed to take the sunset cruise with Richard Postma that was canceled because it was still raining and there was no sunset. So we thought we would go to Bloody Marys for dinner. Our experience at Bloody Marys was not the best. We did not have reservations for dinner, but the dining room was totally empty. The hostess looked at us and said they had no tables for us. Said we could sit behind the palm and have a drink. We were there about 45 min had a very over priced drink, and checked out the bathrooms. When we left there was still NO one at any of the tables. Lucky for us there were other Princess Folks there and we shared a cab back to the tender dock. It was worth a look, I can say I was there. We had planned to take Stephan tour the next day with CC gang but agreed that it was not worth our while after the last time and it would be the same tour... So we rented Buxgster (sort of a go kart or dune buggy). It was great fun to see the island this way. A very good way to stop and take photos. We were told on the island there are 8,000 people and 6,000 dogs and I think its true. Most are hungry (the dogs that is). And it finally stopped raining, but then the winds picked up! We also booked a snorkel tour from the tender dock with Damiens Photo Safari. He was willing to take just the two of out for 2 hours. The seas were still rough but we snorkeled anyway. He got in the water with us and dived down with our underwater camera to get some great shots. As we went around the island we saw manta rays flying under the water. He had great amount of knowledge. He couldnt have been nicer. We have a really nice time with him. I would recommend highly! His boat was not the newest but it did every thing it needed to. MOOREA In Moorea we had booked the Hiro tour online. When we got on shore we were the only ones to have booked both land and sea. First they were going to cancel but they worked with us, and we got to do both land and sea. They put us with another couple on a 4x4, unfortunately they were French and so was the tour guide so it was not the greatest since we do not speak French! The tour guide did try to explain in English as an after-thought with hand motions as appropriate. But we did get to see the island. Up to Belvedere, the fruit juice factory was nothing more than a store with free samples (the tour guide called it Happy Hour), a vanilla farm, pineapple fields,. and of course Bali Hi. Next time we will rent a Buxster and do it ourselves. When we finished the 4x4 we met the boat at the tender dock, they came and picked us up. THIS WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP -- We stopped to swim and feed TONS of rays with a dozen or more, black tip reef sharks just circling about 5-6 feet away. It was easy on and off the boat with a nice ladder. Seems like we were there a long time, usually youre not ready to leave when youre called in. Then off to the coral garden where we snorkeled at a nice sandy beach, while the crew fixed lunch. The food was super, bar-b-q fish and chicken with pasta, rice and fresh fruit. Beer, wine and punch were available to drink. We got to feed the wild chickens all of the left overs and the bones and there were no bugs because of the chickens. And snorkel, snorkel, snorkel in 4 feet of water which means I could stand up and not have to constantly swim (I am vertically challenged being under 5 foot). After we ate, we snorkeled for a long time and they called us in and gave us a coconut cracking demonstration. It was lots of fun. We got back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. RETURN TO PAPEETE Last day in Papeete is weird because you have to be out of your room by 10am. We did a little more shopping and bought pearls at the Tahitian pearl market; they really seemed to have the best price and selection. We met quite a few of CC there buying pearls too! Even if you dont want to buy pearls you need to go and let them show you a bucket and table of pearls! Went back to open air market bought loose teas and vanilla beans. In the afternoon we just chilled on the ship and ate dinner in the buffet. It was neat to meet the people coming on telling them our adventures. Leaving the ship we picked up our luggage, very easy and got a cab to the airport. The airport is a disaster! We were there before the buses there were - 3 people ahead of us in line, two agents and we were in line for about 30 min. And when we arrived in LAX we found out that ATN had not ticketed our luggage all the way home so we had to drag the luggage around with us for the rest of the day. It was a nightmare! All of the ship board activities were fun, but the usual fare. The production shows were all good; the local shows superior and must dos. We just went to a Broadway touring company of Moving Out after we got home and thought the Ship shows were much better The ship is beautiful, the staff really friendly. We got to know so many of them well. The ship is so small you get to met almost every one, it is really cool. Tendering was never an issue (other than not getting into Rarotonga) and went really quickly. One of our new CC friends had a balcony one cabin over and we able to chat over the rail during the course of the cruise. How much fun was that Nancy! In summary, we had a life changing experience. We took over 1600 photos! This was a life long dream to see Tahiti and the Society Islands and the entire trip was more than words can describe. . We plan to return in 08 and hopefully no rain! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
This trip was booked a year a half prior as we had to save up. It was our 15th cruise, fourth on Princess. We booked the lowest inside and got a porthole which was adequate. Being on the 3rd floor was somewhat inconvenient because in order ... Read More
This trip was booked a year a half prior as we had to save up. It was our 15th cruise, fourth on Princess. We booked the lowest inside and got a porthole which was adequate. Being on the 3rd floor was somewhat inconvenient because in order to get on the tenders, we had to go up to 4, go across to the forward exit. (There is only the aft elevator on the 3rd level). I don't know if it was the cabin category but the bedding and towels could use upgrading. Having never been on a small ship before I found it to be a very good experience. After 10 days you really get to know people and everyone was very friendly, coming from all over the world. Our flight was just from Los Angeles so we couldn't complain as others traveled many more hours to reach Papeete. We arrived at 6:30 pm, we caught a cab to the ship and were in the dining room eating dinner at 8:45. We were the only ones checking in so we really beat the crowd from the plane. The ship's decor is somewhat old world, the pool small, and finding a spot in the sun can be difficult but not impossible. The spa deck was rarely used when I checked it out. The spa itself was very nice but they did push products, the fitness center was impressive for a small ship. The casino was tiny but was open even the last day while in port. There are 2 shops, one for jewelry, the other has an assortment of sundries, liquor and clothing. We chose the late dinner seating as I did not want to miss sunset. It seemed very late and our waiter was slow, but we had great tablemates. The food was okay, I was surprised the buffet closed at 6pm-so no alternative dining except for Sterling or Sabatini. Did go to Sabatini one night, it was very good and a nice change from the dining room. We went to the shows to see the traditional dancers, otherwise the Cabaret Room is barely adequate to see anything and the shows are repeats of fare I've seen on other cruises. We were tired at night from the activities of the day so no late night activities for us. We enjoyed every port--Huahine, Raiatea, Rarotonga, Bora Bora, and Moorea. In Papeete the first day we went to Le Marche for flowers, returned to the ship for lunch and then took a bus to Point Venus and the black sand beach. Enjoyed it very much and no need to take an excursion here. At sailaway we met our Cruise Critic group and some of us went together on Marc's Motu Picnic in Raiatea. We went to a Pearl Farm, saw dolphins, snorkeled and had a great lunch. In Rarotonga, we got off the ship right away and rented a car. Driving is on the left which was a challenge. We went to Muri Beach which was just like the tropical screensaver you see on a lot of computers. We snorkeled at Tikitaveka--saw very colorful fish. In Raiatea we signed up for Stephan at the dock, again met some of our Cruise Critic friends. This was a great day, swimming with sharks, stingrays and going to a Pearl Farm. We arrived in Bora Bora on Easter Sunday and took Le Truck to Matira Beach which was disappointing. Later on we took the Sunset Sail through Princess which was on a large catamaran. It was my husband's birthday so we ate at Sabatini's. The next day in Bora Bora Easter Monday we took the circle island tour, we stopped for pareos, views, at Bloody Marys, etc. On Moorea, we rented an air conditioned car and drove around the island, stopping numerous times at hotels, viewpoints, beaches, and shops. The last day we planned to go to the IC Tahiti to hang out but it rained so we shopped some more for last minute souvenirs. Other than that day we had great weather with only an occasional shower. The seas were calm. I must mention the ship did have Easter services and a Passover Seder. The disembarkation was painless, we kept ourselves busy the last day, and although you have to be out of your room you have the amenities of the ship at your disposal, meals, the spa, casino, movies, throughout the day. We took a cab to the airport at 4:30 to beat the crowd. This was a great cruise and even my husband, the skeptic, would do it again. We made many friends on this cruise. This was the best cruise ever. Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
We returned on Sunday from a 10-day Tahitian Princess, French Polynesia and Cook Island cruise. As others comments were very helpful before our cruise, I wanted to get my thoughts down while still fresh. Background: My wife and I are in ... Read More
We returned on Sunday from a 10-day Tahitian Princess, French Polynesia and Cook Island cruise. As others comments were very helpful before our cruise, I wanted to get my thoughts down while still fresh. Background: My wife and I are in our early sixties, retired and on our third (all Princess) cruise. We traveled with two other couples, similar in age and cruise experience (one couple, however, has more cruises under the belt and got the other two couples started). GETTING THERE AND EMBARKATION -- Booked entirely through Princess, we flew from Sacramento to LAX for an easy connection to Air Tahiti Nui (although getting from United to the International Terminal was a bit of a hassle as we werent sure how to get there and could find no one to help). Once there, however, it was an easy check in, a long slow line through security and a short hours wait before boarding at 12:30 PM. Despite the longish 8 hour flight, ATN was great! The wide-body Airbus was comfortable, service good, food (going there) was by airline standards, pretty good, free drinks and six movies to choose from on the behind seat video screens. Games and music too! We arrived Papeete, at about 7:00 PM (their time). Walking down the ramp, we got our first taste of the muggy South Pacific&loved it! After we got our bags (they made it!) we went through customs and on to a waiting bus for the Tahitian Princess. Perhaps because we were arriving late (there would be others even later), check in was the smoothest ever. We all had balcony cabins on Deck 7. They were roomy by Princess standards and with all the regular amenities (fridge, TV, hair dryer, lots of storage) and nicely decorated. We met Edgar, our steward from Mexico, who was, throughout the voyage, friendly and attentive to our every need. Princess robes (no charge) are a must! As all our other cruises were on larger ships (Dawn and Regal), we wanted the feel of a smaller (628 passenger) ship. We got what we asked for and by the end of the voyage we pretty much recognized everyone! This cruise was truly international: besides the US, France, Mexico, Argentina, Switzerland, Australia, New Zeland and Germany were a few that we recognized. The Tahitian Princess is a lovely ship and the use of dark wood throughout gave it a very clubby/classic feel. While it may have lacked size in the casino, buffet and a few other areas, it was by no means a small feeling. We didnt use the pool much, but it was pretty small&and only 3 spas too. We could have gone to dinner in the Club Dining Room that first nite, but opted instead for the buffet as we werent terribly hungry after the flight food. Afterwards we explored the ship before a nice 10PM deck show of local Tahitian dance and singing. Our luggage was in our cabins when we returned and after unpacking, we turned in. The next day we awoke to overcast/sun, but no rain. Still dockside at Papeete for the day, the ladies took us shopping (actually, looking, because we would still have time to shop on the last day in Papeete). We did take a CC recommendation and purchased flowers for our cabin. After a Hinano (local beer&pretty good!) at a cafe, we headed back for lunch on the ship. Then the obligatory 4:30 GES Muster and sailaway to Huahine. DINING/FOOD -- We had assigned late seating at a table for our group of six. Our waiter, Marius was a little aloof in the beginning, but warmed as the cruise progressed. Georgina, his assistant was very nice. They had two tables for eight plus ours&too much to handle and service suffered. Food in the Dining Room was very good, especially having experienced the opposite on our Dawn cruise. We ate in the Dining Room every night, but met others who raved about Sabatinis and Sterling. We also ate here for a lot of lunches and a few breakfasts as the buffet got kind of old after awhile. HUAHINE -- 7:30 AM: our first sight of a real South Pacific Island (Papeete was crowded and urban) and beautiful! We had booked Marcs Motu Picnic on-line ahead of time (another CC recommendation) and this turned out to be a highlite of our trip. Seas were a little rough last nite and so affected the snorkeling sites around the motus. Alejandro, our guide did his best to find us a spot, so we had some time in the water. Picnic was great! Food, fun and open bar! (Hint: I asked Monte, an American ex-pat and part owner about tipping in French Polynesia. He explained that no tipping in Tahiti was a myth started by the French. While still generally the rule, a tip, while not necessarily expected, is always appreciated. Alejandro went out of his way for us, so we felt a tip was in order. On Montes suggestion, we asked Alejandro to share it with others). This trip was great! RORATONGA -- We never made it! But it looked very pretty from a mile out! It was a very rough crossing (I wont go in to how empty the Dining Room was that nite) and by the time we got there, still too rough to tender in. For reasons unknown, we sailed slowly on to Raiatea, which stretched our two sea days to three (and still kinda rough). Captain said, as result, he would extend our stay on Bora Bora to two full days (from a day and a half). Not sure that was a fair trade off. RAIATEA -- We docked at Raiatea. We had booked the Circle Island Tour thru Princess. Suzanne, our tour guide was excellent and gave us a great overview of this Island. Afterwards, the ladies wanted to shop. (Hint: just about everything wed want to bring home was less expensive at Papeete). Dont miss Children of Raiatea show at 5:15 back on the ship! BORA BORA -- Another beautiful island! As we had no tours booked, we took our chance at the dock and met Jerry of Taxi Jerry (/theirrynauta@yahoo.fr) (Vini Mobile 769 930). What luck! For $30 pp we got an excellent four hour tour of the island, then he dropped two off to snorkel and the other four at Bloody Marys (must see), later picking us up for the ride back to the dock. Nice guy and very helpful. The next day three of us went snorkeling (until the wind picked up) and the others went shopping. MOOREA -- Our first really good weather and the most beautiful island! Two went snorkeling (the best) while the rest rented a car, $60 for four hours and more than enough time to circle the island and stop at the Intercontinental Hotel for a nice lunch. PAPEETE (second time) -- Had to be out of cabin by 10AM, so spent the morning touring with Imi Ura, the owner of three taxis (just ask for him where all the taxis park). A retired French Marine from Taaha, he was a wealth of information in a two hour tour of Tahiti ($25 pp). Nice big air-conditioned van! Our last shopping (again, the cheapest), lunch in the Dining Room back on board, then the long wait for Debarkation and bus to the airport. This was a long line that moved along better than we had expected. Luggage carts helped. Flight home was expectedly long, but with about four hours sleep, it was ok. Back to reality. One last thing-ENTERTAINMENT! The BEST wed experienced! Chris (we had him on Alaska cruise) was his usually chatty self (he can sing too), but the young dancers and singers were just great and really put their heart into their shows. The small, close venue made the shows even better! Magician Hal Marquardt and comedian Tom Fletcher were great. Unfortunately, we missed Todd Pettifords, Nat King Cole review (the rough nite!) Even with the weather, this was a great trip! (This is kinda long, but hope it helps) Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
We had booked this cruise back in Jan 2005. We went with several of our friends across the U.S. We stayed several nights pre-cruise at the Moorea Sheraton. The OWB were beautiful, but the currents around the OWB made it almost impossible ... Read More
We had booked this cruise back in Jan 2005. We went with several of our friends across the U.S. We stayed several nights pre-cruise at the Moorea Sheraton. The OWB were beautiful, but the currents around the OWB made it almost impossible to enjoy the snorkeling. A freak storm was hitting Australia so it apparently made would weather bad too for almost our entire vacation. The customer service at the Sheraton in Tahiti and Moorea is lacking to say the least. They treat our group as "The Group". Basically like we were a bother to them even though we were giving them thousands of our dollars to be there. I could go on, but I figure several of our buddies will go into more detail. Sheraton will be hearing from many of us though regarding this issue. The cruise was good, but the weather really put a damper on the snorkeling and scenery. We had went 2 years ago and only had 1 day of rain. So we could at least remember how pretty it is without rain. Marc did a wonderful job even though it rained in Huahaine. He made it a great day and we thank him for going the extra mile to make sure we had a good tour despite the rain. We never made it to Cook Islands. The weather was absolutely horrible and we were shocked that the captain would venture toward there with the waves being so bad. There was some type of cyclone and it seemed like we were in the outer edges. Crew and passengers all were sick. We never get seasick and we even felt queasy. The sun finally came out a little in Raietea. We had booked over a year ago with Stephan. I got to the pier and he tried to go up 35pp on the tour. My husband and I opted not to go since he was sick, but my buddies went and said his tour had really went down. He apparently had around 60 people out there trying to snorkel, feed shark, etc at one time. They were dumped on his private motu and left for 2 hours. We had planned to use him again in Bora Bora, but after this bad experience we chose to rent the Buxter Cars in Bora Bora. They were awesome! We also did the Moana Jet boat. I can only say that was one of the best things we did. We then did the wave runners and it was great too. We couldn't do the sunset with Richard Postma due to the weather, but he met us at the docks and returned my money minus the cost to cash the check I had sent. I thought that was very professional. The next night was a great sunset and we watched as he took a boat load of people to enjoy the experience. Just wished we had been on it with them! In Moorea we did the catamaran sail in the morning through the ship. It was good, but be warned use the flippers they offer if you snorkel. It is deep and the current a little stiff. We were never able to stand up for more than a couple of seconds at a time. We were all exhausted after swimming so long without resting. The sunset that night was great too. Back in PPT we shopped and then ate lunch and headed over to the Sheraton. Again, the service at Sheraton is lacking and the rooms on this night were old and roaches were in the bathroom. The hot tub was broken too. We did get to watch the Diamond sail out on Sunday night and it is a beautiful ship. Overall the weather wasn't pleasant like last time, but we had an awesome time. Our friends made our trip and we would do it all again, but maybe on a good weather week. Our room steward was great. The pizza staff was good too and we enjoyed talking to them every night during our nightly card games. The only thing besides good weather that would have made the cruise part better is if the ship had just cruised in a circle those 3 days where the ocean was a little more peaceful or stopped at an island a day early. We did get 2 full days at Bora Bora, so that was good. We will be planning another trip, but closer to home this time. As I age the recovery process seems to take a little longer! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
Ocean Princess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 2.0 4.2
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.6
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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