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Great itinerary, slightly spoiled by lots of rain everywhere except at Raiatea. The Marquesas are very spectacular, pretty much unspoiled as they only get about 10 ship visits a year, the Tahitian Princess doesn't repeat this itinerary until March. Nuku Hiva doesn't have much to offer, we tendered in, as we did at every island except Raiatea, and saw the dance exhibition which was great, much more primitive and not at all touristy like the Tahitian dances have become. Hiva Oa is more interesting, also saw dancing but also went up to see Paul Gaugin's grave. A tip to future cruisers, DON'T believe them when they say it is an easy 10 minute walk to the cemetery. We took one of the shuttles provided by Princess, a 4 WD SUV and it still took 15 minutes !! It is a very steep road up to the cemetery and since it was raining quite hard we were very glad of the ride, chauffeured by a very nice Tahitian lady who took us on a sightseeing trip, including to her house. This latter was provided as my wife is Tahitian and the two of them became good friends instantly! Next stop was Rangiroa, an amazing atoll with the second largest lagoon in the world and a very narrow pass to enter it, the lagoon is so wide that you can't see from one side to the other. However, the atoll itself is so narrow in parts that you could throw a stone from the middle of the road into the ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other. I certainly would NOT want to be on that atoll if there was a severe storm with high waves and a lot of wind, the Kia Ora Hotel there has been severely damaged several times over the years. By the way, Princess has no arrangement with the management of that hotel and will advise you not to attempt to visit there. Being "locals", we walked along the beach and just dropped in, no problem as we were with a man and his daughter who had stayed there recently and the security people recognised them. Raiatea was our favourite stop as we were signed up for a tour of a pearl farm and a vanilla plantation, both very interesting and not too bad at $64 per person. The tour was on the island of Tahaa which is only accessible by boat, takes about 30 minutes to get there normally but our boat lost one of the two engines and we limped in after about 45 minutes......welcome to Tahiti! The vanilla plantation was interesting and my wife learned a few things that will help her as we raise vanilla ourselves in Hawaii. For instance, we didn't know that the beans have to be massaged at the final stage of their development in order to get the full amount of oil from the bean. The guides were a husband and wife team, he is a Dane who is ex-French Foreign Legion and has lived in Tahiti for 8 years, his wife is from Tahaa and speaks perfect English as she was educated in the US. Suggestion: Buy the vanilla beans that are sold in packages at the gift shop, they are quite legal to take into the States and much cheaper there than in the stores elsewhere. They will give you some tips on usage, not only for cooking but also to put a bean in your car as an air freshener, in the underwear drawer etc.! The pearl farm is worth a visit, beautifully landscaped area also with a gift shop and snack bar (Hinano beer is cold and GREAT!) The farm is run by a family who are famous in Tahiti as there are several entertainers among them, the most famous being Gabilou and his nephew who have many recordings of Tahitian music, most of the songs being composed in the same room where the lecture is given on pearl farming. When you learn how difficult it is to insert the nucleus, how long it takes to mature, and the small percentage of oysters that actually deliver good quality pearls, the high prices of these wonderful jewels seem much more justified. We stayed at Raiatea over night left early am, and arrived at Bora Bora early the next day. Since this was our 4th visit to Bora Bora in 2 years, I stayed on board while my wife visited her friends who are artisans (crafters) on the dock. In my opinion, having lived in Tahiti almost nine years back in the 70's, Bora Bora is much overrated and far outshone by Moorea for majestic beauty, friendly people, interesting excursions, better beaches etc. Apart from Bloody Mary's, which is an interesting sort of a dive with good cold beer, there is little to do on Bora Bora since most of the hotels don't allow outside visitors. You can understand that they don't want the hoipoloi dropping and disturbing the peace of those rich (stupid?) enough to pay $700 to $1,500 a night for a bungalow. OK, so what about the ship you say? Well, she is the smallest cruise ship I have sailed in with only 680 passengers, but also very well kept and beautifully laid out. There is only one dining room with traditional 1st and 2nd seating, also a small Italian restaurant with a surcharge and an area of the coffee shop that is roped off at night sometimes for a steak house, we didn't sample either. The pizzeria is really just a window that serves GREAT thin crust pizza but only three different varieties, it is open twice a day and is located on the starboard side of the coffee shop. Free ice cream is also offered in the afternoons, same location. Food in the dining room, also the service, was excellent although Luigi our waiter seemed a bit flustered at times and it took 2 hours for dinner each night. This was fine as were at a table for 7, my wife and I, a honeymoon couple from Adelaide, a man travelling with his 14 year old daughter (which caused a few raised eyebrows around the ship!) and a single lady from Canada who now lives in California. We were a very compatible group and had a lot of fun each night, particularly teasing the newlyweds as the girl is Greek Cypriot and one of the films showing was "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", her husband said that the party in that film for the engagement was exactly like what happened to them! The films shown were all late editions, Nemo and several others. Shows were good, particularly the song and dance numbers and an excellent comedian/magician. There is an excellent, well stocked, library where I found 2 more of the series of novels by the author of "Master and Commander", I have now read three of them and am almost finished the fourth of a series of 18. If anyone hasn't seen the Russell Crowe film, "Master and Commander", don't miss it as it is definitely Oscar material. The Internet Cafe is very good, 8 terminals which were often available, in fact I never had to wait to use one. It is on Deck 9, next to the Spa. Warning: Unless you are a Platinum member, which luckily we are, be careful when logging on. If you are not connected withing 10-15 seconds, log off and go to another terminal. For some reason, from time to time, one or other of the terminals won't sign on right away and you will be charged for every second. If that happens, go to the Purser's desk right away, give them the terminal number and the number of seconds on the timer and they will credit you. This was my first time as Platinum and I was a bit concerned that I would get credit for my time on line as they don't adjust your onboard account right away, in fact only every three or four days, what a relief when I saw all those charges credited back !! Captain Nicolo Bommarco is a lot of fun but he transferred off the Tahitian Princess after our cruise and is now on the Dawn Princess. His English is rather limited but he is very gregarious and loves to karaoke late into the night! Melvyn Armitage is the Passenger Service Director and does a great job. We were invited to a private bridge tour, mostly just the people from our dining table plus a couple of others. It was amazing to watch the sophisticated equipment being used to navigate the tricky channel into Raiatea. We only bought two photographs as they are very expensive, particularly since I went to a talk about digital photography, having just bought a digital still camera, and the guy went on and on about the wonders of digital, no film expense, no developing chemicals, every picture being good as they could keep shooting until they got it right and therefore didn't waste all that paper etc. If that is the case, why did pictures go up from $6.95 to $9.95 ?!! Why four stars and not five? My continuing complaint about the never ending Caribbean/Reggae style music on the pool deck. We only cruise, for the most part, in the Pacific and, on this ship above all since she is home based in Tahiti, why no Tahitian music? On top of that, we enquired and there is NOT ONE Tahitian member of the crew, not even a room steward or a waiter, which we found intolerable. Sorry about the length of this review but please feel free to contact me at Bancrep@aol.com with any questions that I haven't answered, I'm sure I forgot to cover something.

Tahitian Princess

Ocean Princess Cruise Review by CruisingBryan

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2004
  • Destination:
Great itinerary, slightly spoiled by lots of rain everywhere except at Raiatea. The Marquesas are very spectacular, pretty much unspoiled as they only get about 10 ship visits a year, the Tahitian Princess doesn't repeat this itinerary until March.
Nuku Hiva doesn't have much to offer, we tendered in, as we did at every island except Raiatea, and saw the dance exhibition which was great, much more primitive and not at all touristy like the Tahitian dances have become. Hiva Oa is more interesting, also saw dancing but also went up to see Paul Gaugin's grave.
A tip to future cruisers, DON'T believe them when they say it is an easy 10 minute walk to the cemetery. We took one of the shuttles provided by Princess, a 4 WD SUV and it still took 15 minutes !! It is a very steep road up to the cemetery and since it was raining quite hard we were very glad of the ride, chauffeured by a very nice Tahitian lady who took us on a sightseeing trip, including to her house. This latter was provided as my wife is Tahitian and the two of them became good friends instantly!
Next stop was Rangiroa, an amazing atoll with the second largest lagoon in the world and a very narrow pass to enter it, the lagoon is so wide that you can't see from one side to the other. However, the atoll itself is so narrow in parts that you could throw a stone from the middle of the road into the ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other. I certainly would NOT want to be on that atoll if there was a severe storm with high waves and a lot of wind, the Kia Ora Hotel there has been severely damaged several times over the years. By the way, Princess has no arrangement with the management of that hotel and will advise you not to attempt to visit there. Being "locals", we walked along the beach and just dropped in, no problem as we were with a man and his daughter who had stayed there recently and the security people recognised them.
Raiatea was our favourite stop as we were signed up for a tour of a pearl farm and a vanilla plantation, both very interesting and not too bad at $64 per person. The tour was on the island of Tahaa which is only accessible by boat, takes about 30 minutes to get there normally but our boat lost one of the two engines and we limped in after about 45 minutes......welcome to Tahiti! The vanilla plantation was interesting and my wife learned a few things that will help her as we raise vanilla ourselves in Hawaii. For instance, we didn't know that the beans have to be massaged at the final stage of their development in order to get the full amount of oil from the bean. The guides were a husband and wife team, he is a Dane who is ex-French Foreign Legion and has lived in Tahiti for 8 years, his wife is from Tahaa and speaks perfect English as she was educated in the US. Suggestion: Buy the vanilla beans that are sold in packages at the gift shop, they are quite legal to take into the States and much cheaper there than in the stores elsewhere. They will give you some tips on usage, not only for cooking but also to put a bean in your car as an air freshener, in the underwear drawer etc.!
The pearl farm is worth a visit, beautifully landscaped area also with a gift shop and snack bar (Hinano beer is cold and GREAT!) The farm is run by a family who are famous in Tahiti as there are several entertainers among them, the most famous being Gabilou and his nephew who have many recordings of Tahitian music, most of the songs being composed in the same room where the lecture is given on pearl farming. When you learn how difficult it is to insert the nucleus, how long it takes to mature, and the small percentage of oysters that actually deliver good quality pearls, the high prices of these wonderful jewels seem much more justified.
We stayed at Raiatea over night left early am, and arrived at Bora Bora early the next day. Since this was our 4th visit to Bora Bora in 2 years, I stayed on board while my wife visited her friends who are artisans (crafters) on the dock. In my opinion, having lived in Tahiti almost nine years back in the 70's, Bora Bora is much overrated and far outshone by Moorea for majestic beauty, friendly people, interesting excursions, better beaches etc. Apart from Bloody Mary's, which is an interesting sort of a dive with good cold beer, there is little to do on Bora Bora since most of the hotels don't allow outside visitors. You can understand that they don't want the hoipoloi dropping and disturbing the peace of those rich (stupid?) enough to pay $700 to $1,500 a night for a bungalow.
OK, so what about the ship you say? Well, she is the smallest cruise ship I have sailed in with only 680 passengers, but also very well kept and beautifully laid out. There is only one dining room with traditional 1st and 2nd seating, also a small Italian restaurant with a surcharge and an area of the coffee shop that is roped off at night sometimes for a steak house, we didn't sample either. The pizzeria is really just a window that serves GREAT thin crust pizza but only three different varieties, it is open twice a day and is located on the starboard side of the coffee shop. Free ice cream is also offered in the afternoons, same location. Food in the dining room, also the service, was excellent although Luigi our waiter seemed a bit flustered at times and it took 2 hours for dinner each night. This was fine as were at a table for 7, my wife and I, a honeymoon couple from Adelaide, a man travelling with his 14 year old daughter (which caused a few raised eyebrows around the ship!) and a single lady from Canada who now lives in California. We were a very compatible group and had a lot of fun each night, particularly teasing the newlyweds as the girl is Greek Cypriot and one of the films showing was "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", her husband said that the party in that film for the engagement was exactly like what happened to them! The films shown were all late editions, Nemo and several others. Shows were good, particularly the song and dance numbers and an excellent comedian/magician. There is an excellent, well stocked, library where I found 2 more of the series of novels by the author of "Master and Commander", I have now read three of them and am almost finished the fourth of a series of 18. If anyone hasn't seen the Russell Crowe film, "Master and Commander", don't miss it as it is definitely Oscar material. The Internet Cafe is very good, 8 terminals which were often available, in fact I never had to wait to use one. It is on Deck 9, next to the Spa. Warning: Unless you are a Platinum member, which luckily we are, be careful when logging on. If you are not connected withing 10-15 seconds, log off and go to another terminal. For some reason, from time to time, one or other of the terminals won't sign on right away and you will be charged for every second. If that happens, go to the Purser's desk right away, give them the terminal number and the number of seconds on the timer and they will credit you. This was my first time as Platinum and I was a bit concerned that I would get credit for my time on line as they don't adjust your onboard account right away, in fact only every three or four days, what a relief when I saw all those charges credited back !!
Captain Nicolo Bommarco is a lot of fun but he transferred off the Tahitian Princess after our cruise and is now on the Dawn Princess. His English is rather limited but he is very gregarious and loves to karaoke late into the night! Melvyn Armitage is the Passenger Service Director and does a great job. We were invited to a private bridge tour, mostly just the people from our dining table plus a couple of others. It was amazing to watch the sophisticated equipment being used to navigate the tricky channel into Raiatea.
We only bought two photographs as they are very expensive, particularly since I went to a talk about digital photography, having just bought a digital still camera, and the guy went on and on about the wonders of digital, no film expense, no developing chemicals, every picture being good as they could keep shooting until they got it right and therefore didn't waste all that paper etc. If that is the case, why did pictures go up from $6.95 to $9.95 ?!! Why four stars and not five?
My continuing complaint about the never ending Caribbean/Reggae style music on the pool deck. We only cruise, for the most part, in the Pacific and, on this ship above all since she is home based in Tahiti, why no Tahitian music? On top of that, we enquired and there is NOT ONE Tahitian member of the crew, not even a room steward or a waiter, which we found intolerable. Sorry about the length of this review but please feel free to contact me at Bancrep@aol.com with any questions that I haven't answered, I'm sure I forgot to cover something.
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