We chose this trip because of our wonderful experience with Lindblad in the Galapagos and our understanding from Lindblad that this would be an expedition with varied land experiences in small groups with a top notch team of knowledgeable guides with an A+ Expedition Cruise organization. The further bonus was the opportunity for great diving while on the trip. Sadly, it did not live up to our expectations or the standards we would expect from Lindblad.
On the Plus Side: The boat is great and one of their nicer ships. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, the food is excellent and the staff couldn't be better. The diving was exactly what we expected based on our discussions with Michelle Graves. The dive masters were excellent and the rental equipment was new and of high quality. We actually ended up diving more than we had planned and this ended up being the highlight of the trip (as well as an additional expense beyond the cost of the expedition). The scenery is beautiful and the waters are warm. All the expedition staff are friendly and accessible, and it was wonderful to have a world renowned photographer on board with us!
What could have been better: This was the first time Lindblad has done this itinerary in some years and it showed. Most of the expedition staff made it clear they were unfamiliar with the area; Shore excursions were generally in large groups ... between 25 and in one case close to 60 people together -- and with just a single person leading the group in each case. This happened three days in a row! This was precisely what we had been assured would NOT be the case. There were only two opportunities for hiking during the week and one was available on a first-come-first serve basis to less than 30 people on a boat of 94. We were shut out of this opportunity. Something else that should not happen with Lindblad. Historical French Polynesian culture is largely gone and so most land excursions involved seeing archeological sites which are interesting but not all that varied from island to island. As a diver, we expected to have to choose between diving and water activities. However, it was almost always a choice between diving and the very few land excursions. On one day the entire diving group (11 people) chose to skip the diving in order to participate in the land excursion. The only excursion on the last day was a one hour visit to a pearl farm, but this was made available during the only time diving could take place (in the morning) given that diving is prohibited 24 hours prior to flying.
The cabin was quite spacious considering we were just one level above the lowest cabin category. Plenty of storage space, comfortable bed and good lighting. Very strong water pressure in the shower and lots of hot water. We would happily stay in this room again.