We picked this cruise line and itinerary because we needed to go during the summer, and wanted to go to the south pacific (only 2 cruise lines do this in the summer). Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Also, we brought along our ... Read More
We picked this cruise line and itinerary because we needed to go during the summer, and wanted to go to the south pacific (only 2 cruise lines do this in the summer). Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Also, we brought along our 13-yr old daughter for an adventure of a lifetime.
Is included from Los Angeles to Tahiti in cruise fare. Air Tahiti Nui, 2x5x2 configuration. Comfortable, with modern in-seat entertainment system, better than major domestic carriers (UA, AA). Food was excellent or terrible… hit and miss. Free drinks including mini-champagne bottles. Tahiti airport is tiny! One baggage claim, etc.
We elected to spend a couple nights before cruise in Tahiti at the Intercontinental, did the package deal. Transfer from airport to hotel was uneventful, agent waiting for us to take us to the bus (air conditioned). Check in uneventful, but recommendation: ask about your view! It was 10pm local time when we checked in for a lagoon-view room, so we could not see our view. We were disappointed in the morning to see that our primary view was of the buildings and parking, not really the lagoon. I felt like we got a “left over” room... :( (I attached photo). I could have complained then, but we only had that day to spend at the hotel, so it was not worth my time to go complain. Any of the pool/lagoon view rooms would be fine. Nice pool, makes you feel like you are really on vacation. Lagoonarium wowed us until we went snorkeling around the islands. Sat am we had to check out at 11am, but couldn’t go to ship until 3pm…so dead time, I guess we could have swam, or taken a taxi to the market and back in time for lunch (which is included)… but would have been nice if they coordinated timing and offered “market with lunch” shuttles, etc that we figured out AFTER 1pm. Hotel staff did not volunteer this info to us, we learned from other guests. Overall, nice, but expensive way to adjust to the local time zone.
Embarkation - Bus picked us up from hotel just in time to check in at ship. They have this coordinated very well! Waited in AC bus til the tent line diminished, and then breezed through to ship, to elevator, to theater lounge, where we were checked in, photographed, and given id cards in less than 10 minutes. Total time from hotel to our ship room, about 45 minutes! We were escorted to our room immediately, shown around. Our luggage was waiting in our room. Nice so that we can unpack immediately. Then went to make dinner reservations, and were checking out the ship by 4pm.
Disembarkation – we have to put our luggage out the night before (like most cruises), and leave our carryons with us. We did have time after we got off the ship to id our luggage, and put some toiletries into our bags before they were taken to the airport for us. Very smooth process. Bus was waiting for us for the airport. We realized that the majority of people on the flight from LA to Papeete were doing the same exact itinerary as us, so you will get to know those folks! And we were able to say our good byes on the 8 hour flight returning from Tahiti to LAX.
Drinks are included in the cruise price. Drinks of the day, daily, yum! The staff started remembering our favorites by day 2 – wow! I couldn’t even remember their names!
Breakfast – room service (early to ontime every time), restaurants – mixed buffet/service. Nice variety. Eggs benedict to toast and jam.
Lunch (after our morning snorkel excursions) – we ate in the French (but not French food at lunch) and Tahitian restaurants (but not Tahitian food at lunch). Buffet/service combo. Salads, to fresh pasta, to burgers/pizza, to local specialties like tuna cru.
Dinner – 3 dining choices, 2 of which need reservations. Main dining room was just as good as the others. Food was presented very attractively, very French style. Very attentive service from staff. I mentioned casually of my lactose intolerance the first night at dinner. Next thing I know, specially assigned staff provided me the next night’s menu (regardless of where I planned to dine, they KNEW somehow!), and I would select menu items that the chef would ensure were prepared without dairy for me. That’s service! Without reservations, we never had to wait for a table, we typically went between 6:30-7:30pm to dinner. Summer dresses, nice slacks/tops, would be fine for all 3 venues. Bring a pareo/scarf/etc for multitasking in chilly rooms/lounges. Men – my hubby wore “Hawaiian” shirts (any buttoned shirt) and slacks (dockers) every day, and was fine.
We attended the evening show after dinner most evenings. Note they start late: 9:30pm, and we were up and out of our room most mornings by 7:30am to do snorkeling, so long days! Some activities throughout the day, most without huge turnouts, sometimes just a couple of people. Minimal activities, if any between 4:30 and 6pm. Happy hour? Again, drinks free, and freeflowing.
Kids/Cousteau program – no activities geared just for kids outside of the Cousteau program. We originally were thinking of having our 13-yr-old daughter do this, but when we went to register on day2, we saw that the average age/gender of kids was 10 and boys, even though target was 9-17. Most of the activities overlapped with excursions, so we skipped the program.
We did not reserve any before the start of the cruise. Most times we were fine signing up 2 days in advance. Day before had limited choices as excursions for the next day were filling up. We did get lucky and reserve (in the am) a same-day (afternoon) excursion once. Most days we went snorkeling. Tahaa, private motu had plenty of self-guided snorkeling, so just did that. Stingray/shark encounter was fabulous and even doable for non-swimmers in 3-4 feet of water. Dolphin/whale watching was amazing, even saw tiger sharks, sea turtles, and advanced surfers.
Excellent – friendly, willing to help. Wow! I could get used to this lifestyle! By the way, we did the laundry package for $60 pp. Package said that it would be next day service, but if we submitted by 9am, we always got back same day by about 4pm. If I had known this, I would have brought only 3 dresses, and 2 swimsuits (I brought 5 dresses and 3 swimsuits for 12 days).
I had read some reviews that claimed the ship was in poor shape, I did not experience this. I have been on Princess and Celebrity ships that were just 2 years old, and in the same shape as this ship. This ship looked like it was well maintained. Our room was very well maintained. My understanding is that the ship is scheduled for dry dock remodel next year – please check.
We had room 738, middle of the ship, category C. Not more than 1 min walk to either elevator. And just below “deck chairs?” – 6am most mornings…but next door neighbor did not hear them. Room itself was very nice, rich wood interior, LOTS of storage space. Our suitcases fit under the bed. We each had a small closet, plenty of drawers, shelving to put everything in its place for 3 of us. Bathroom also had plenty of storage, I was pleasantly surprised. Only one outlet in the bathroom though, for shavers only. We had queen bed set up, with the armchair converted into a pullout single bed. Cozy, but doable for 3 of us.
Was it worth the PG price? Yyyyeeeessss, for a once in a lifetime adventure to be treated luxuriously, spoiled, and snorkel daily. Read Less