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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.

Tahitian Princess - South Pacific

Ocean Princess Cruise Review by cruisenut2001

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2006
  • Destination: South Pacific
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
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.
cruisenut2001’s Full Rating Summary
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