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16 Princess Tahiti (Papeete) Cruise Reviews

WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY Flying to Tahiti and Papeete What a long day or was it two days? Started out at 1pm with a regional flight to Denver on Wednesday. Then Denver to LAX arriving at 4:30pm. Walked 8 minutes from terminal 7 to ... Read More
WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY Flying to Tahiti and Papeete What a long day or was it two days? Started out at 1pm with a regional flight to Denver on Wednesday. Then Denver to LAX arriving at 4:30pm. Walked 8 minutes from terminal 7 to International terminal to find sleeping bodies with huge luggage scattered along walls of lobby. Some in chairs, most were on the floor. The departure ticketing gates do not open until just hours before the flights. So we found a spot in a secluded corner (around the elevators) away from crying children and snoring adults. There has got to be a better way! Air Tahiti Nui opened early (sign said 7:30pm). It was around 6:30pm when we re-checked the counters. The attendant was friendly and efficient. We were invited to the International Lounge on the 6th floor. We first ate at one of the many fast food places. $16 for a burger and salad. $12 for Chow Mein, chicken and vegs. Both were good. The International lounge had food (had we known), liquor, soda, snacks and comfortable chairs. We were in business class on the flight, so the seats reclined. Pillows, a thin comforter, and toiletries were provided. 8 hours later (Thursday 5am) we arrived to a singing group welcoming us to Papeete’s airport. After getting luggage and going through customs we were greeted by a smiley and friendly Princess rep. They took our luggage and informed us to be back in 3 hours for the excursion/transfer to the ship (7:30am). We sat in metal chairs and watched the sun come up. At 7am the bus loaded. I guess everyone was anxious to “get going”. The excursion tour of the island was very nice. Evon and Evette were our driver and tour guide. She was very funny. We drove to Jardin Botanical Garden, about 60 km and turned around. Evette pointed out every church, school, beach, fence or interesting building along the way. We stopped at the black sand beach, fern caves, waterfall, marae, and botanical garden. We then drove through a little bit of Papette downtown. A little bit is all you need to see. Arriving at the boat the Princess staff directed us from station to station. The longest wait was to climb up the ramp onto the boat where your photo is taken for security. We ate lunch at the Panoramic buffet. There was fish, scallops, pasta, salads, which were good. The ham was excellent along with the desserts. Drinks were served with a smile. We walked around Papeete to the Tourist Information building, the Market, The Viara. I bought a Vini Sim card for Internet and Phone Service. The only place I could use the Internet card was the post office with their computers. The phone card ended up being a SCAM. They lied to me. It could only be used with a local cell phone. RIP OFF! We found the people of the town cold and unfriendly. Even after I bought a few things, no one said thank you. The staff at the Toursist Bureau weren’t friendly either. IT was just four people sitting at the their desks. Didn’t talk to us. Didn’t ask if we had questions or needed assistance. Nothing, they just sat there. We found that weird. The pareos are from Indonesia, NOT Tahiti, and every store at the Market sold the same stuff. All crap from somewhere else. The craved wood was NOT local. Cheap t-shirts, lei necklaces, and not a great selection for NICE gifts. It was dusty, junky, and yucky. The streets were hard to walk on. Cracks, uneven pavement, changing levels that you could easily trip, dirty, and crowded. We couldn’t wait to get back on board the ship. Our cabin steward, Chai, was friendly and gave us ice and fresh robes. Our shore excursion tickets were waiting for us also. Our bags arrived around 4pm. We unpacked, finding plenty of hangars and drawer/closet space. We ate dinner at the buffet. First thing I saw was a sweet pineapple drink – delicious. Chicago round of beef, great spinach, carrots, and potatoes, and papaya fish. Wonderful taramiso ice cream and mango cheesecake. We couldn’t wait to go to sleep. FRIDAY Papeete We took the 4WD excursion to Papenoo Valley and Waterfall. We met at the end of the pier at 7:50am. That was much easier that wating to be called in the ship’s lounge. We wore swim suits under clothes and reef walkers (sandals). WE brought towels, hats, sun block, insect repellant. We left the dock on time with 6 passengers in the back of a covered truck. We drove through busy downtown Papeete, around the coast then turned inland. Beautiful valley of high rock walls with tiny waterfalls floating down to the river, which you drive along. We stopped to take photos a couple of times. Twice at larger waterfalls, an ancient marae, and a beautiful river, where we swam in the stream. A beautiful excursion. We lunched with people we met on the excursion. The meat loaf was good. Again, a good selection of rice/Asian meals. There is always cheese and luncheon meat, fruits, three different pre-made sandwiches, 2 soups, 2 ice creams with toppings, custards, cookies. Muster Station Drill was much more organized than other ships we have been on. The Captain even came on and gave us a safety talk. That was nice. Dinner tonight at the buffet had pork roast. Great Asian noodles and fresh shrimp. The hazelnut mousse was good. But the dining room was very empty. 99% must go to the formal dining room. It is not our thing to sit around for 2 hours for a meal, so the buffet worked out great for us. They offer the same entrees as the dining room, so we aren’t missing anything. It was nice to sit by the window and watch Moorea pass by. It was very quiet and relaxing. The wait staff is very efficient, polite, and friendly. SATURDAY Huahine We took our own excursion with Marc’s Moto Picnic. They could probably charge more; it was that good. We had a wonderful day. There were a couple of different tours going out from the pier with Marc’s. Marc and his assistants were organized and had it all under control. We were put on a smaller boat with 12 passengers, each with your own seat (with back). The first stop after a beautiful boat ride was to fairly shallow area about 50 feet from the shore. There were lots of hidden creatures swimming around coral heads in beautiful clear water. Next we toured a couple of lagoons on the way to a pearl farm in the middle of the bay. The tour was very interesting. We felt it could have been a quicker stop. We then did a drift snorkel. What a wonderful experience. Floating above the coral at about 1 knots. It felt much quicker! Just a short boat drive away was lunch on a beautiful tree lined beach. Right on the edge of the big, blue ocean, crashing over the protective reef. Lunch was prepared right in front of us. Tasty grilled striped marlin with Marc’s homemade tomato garlic salsa. Safron rice with raisins was my favorite. Grilled chicken, salad and plenty to drink. The local juice was fantastic. Dessert was local – I mean right there on that island local grown fruits. Watermelon, pineapple, sweet bananas, and cantelope. The entire lunch was cooked to perfection and tasted wonderful. BUT the best part was the flush toilets on this secluded island. There was even a fresh water shower to use after a day of snorkeling. That is a very nice touch! The entertainers sang the ENTIRE time we were there. They never took a break! It was a very enjoyable day!! It was a quick ten minute boat ride back to the pier to catch a tender back to the boat. SUNDAY At Sea MONDAY Rangiroa Lagoon Snorkel Excursion. The BEST snorkel I have ever been on – NOT the prettiest, just the best. The coral is nothing to look at but the amount and variety of sealife was fantastic. We saw Trumpet fish, Surgeon fish, Queen Angel, black tip Reef Sharks, Triggerfish, Emperor Angelfish, Parrotfish, Unicornfish and numerousWrasses. Two sharks were swimming RIGHT at me, but then turned away at about 25-30 feet. It seemed much closer! WE probably saw about 10 to 15 sharks, mostly swimming right on top of the reef, in about 10-15 feet of water. My highlight was a 8 to 10 foot Yellow Margin Moray Eel free swimming through the coral heads. I followed it for about 2 minutes until it swam into a cavern in the bottom of the coral. About 12 inches of its tail was still hanging out. After the snorkel we boated out to see the dolphins catching waves and riding them into the pass. A very enjoyable experience. Top Dive Rangiora After taking a tender to the pier, Top Dive picks you up in a van and drives to their shop. It took about 5 minutes to get there. Finished the paperwork, got the equipment I needed, they gave us the dive profile for the first dive. They had all the equipment loaded in their boat. They handled all that themselves. There was one guide for 3 to 4 divers. We fell backwards out of the boat to start the dive. We dove the pass. We saw huge Blue Clams, schools of Moorish Idols, Triggerfish, Napolean Wrasses, Parrotfish, and a Turtle. When the dive was done, the Divemaster inflated a Dive Sausage and the Zodiak boat located us for pick up. Lunch was in a shack on the beach. My Divemaster said he’d be back at 2pm for the second dive. He never showed up. At 2pm a large French group got their dive briefing, got on the baot and left. So the guy who runs the place, Nicolas Barnard, says I missed the boat. Claudio never showed up. No one gave me a dive briefing. No one directed me to a boat. They called the boat back. The second dive went further out of the pass and east to Shark Wall. We saw dozens of sharks, schools of thousands of fish, eels, Moorish Idols. We dove the entire pass and came up on the other side of the island. For the second dive (after saying their was equipment on the boat) my BC was too small, there was not enough weight, and no regard for my personal dive profile. Diving is all about safety. They did not have my safety as a concern on this dive. I am not impressed with their organization or operation. The water was beautiful and the sea life fantastic, but will not dive with them again. TUESDAY At Sea WEDNESDAY Tahaa Tahaa Drift Snorkel Excursion This was WILD! Well organized at the pier (Terminal). There were two boats with 12 persons each. We drove for about 30 minutes to the pass. They anchored in about 12” of water in a sandy part of the area. We walked to the beach and then across the island to the starting point. It took about 5 minutes. Reef walkers or sandals are a MUST! You enter the water at the end of the path and put your fins on. The guide takes your reef walkers/sandals and puts them in a bag to float along with him. You enter one at a time about 10 feet apart from the person in front of you. And away you go. No need to paddle, the current takes you. You do need to steer, and follow the person in front of you as well as the deeper path in the pass. Those that didn’t follow the guide suffered the consequences with coral cuts on their knees, and I don’t know how, their elbows and arms. By the time the current eases you are ready to get out. Some went and did it again. Some enjoyed the view and the warm water near the beach. The second time we did a different cut in the pass; a little further out. It was much better. The current wasn’t as strong and it was a little deeper. We gathered around a soft coral and watched “Nemo”, a clownfish swim with his family. Afterwards they served fresh fruit and cared for the wounded. This was a very nice excursion. 4WD Crater, Motus, Marae, Vanilla Plantation Excursion We also did a 4WD Crater Excursion that afternoon. There was enough time to shower, change clothes, eat lunch between two excursions, but we walk fast. Cathy and her sister pick you up in their 4 WD vehicles. They were wonderful guides and their island is beautiful. We drove around the East side of the island and then through the center over hillsides and through rivers. The information on vanilla was amazing! The most sacred marae in Tahiti was nice to see. What history and a beautiful spot. They had local fruit for us to try. Along the way Cathy spotted fresh pineapple ready to eat. She shared one with us at the marae stop too. It was the best pineapple we had ever had (even better than Hawaii’s!). There was also local papaya, bananas, and mango. All fantastic! There was fresh, chilled coconuts and vanilla for purchase. They were GREAT hostesses! THURSDAY Bora Bora Day 1 We rented a EuroCar to drive around the island. What was supposed to be leisurely drive turned out to be a dangerous vehicle rental that ended in 1 hours time. The seatbelt/harness in the Bugster couldn’t be adjusted. The mirrors did not stay in place to be able to see behind you. We tried to return it but no one was at the rental shack. We tried later in the afternoon and were told to come back one more time as the two people at the shack just stared at us. By 2pm we finally got to talk with someone, who told us there was nothing he could do except rent us another POS car. There was no time to use the car so we asked for a partial credit, as we did not use it the entire day. He was rude and said he already had our payment. We are taking it up with our credit card. FRIDAY Bora Bora 2nd day Snorkel and Stingray Excursion We took the morning excursion with Moana Adventures. The catamaran is large with bench seats facing forward. There were large stairs to get in and out of the water. What a special place. It really isn’t a snorkel at the stingray location. YOU STAND up in 2 to 4 feet of water just wearing your reefwalkers/sandals in a sandy reef about 30 minutes from shore. A couple boats were already there feeding the rays and sharks. It was a fairly windy day so the waves would hit you if you weren’t watching. But it is such a unique experience to be able to touch the stingrays and view a shark within a few feet from where you stand. The barbs have been removed from the rays. The stingrays arrive immediately and stuck around the entire hour we were there. You could touch, kiss, swim with, take pictures with and pictures of the sea life as close as you wanted to get. At one point I counted 10 rays in one spot. It was amazing! The second snorkel stop was called Coral Garden. We were about a quarter mile from the fringing reef with huge waves constantly crashing over. The current was strong and seas choppy so I declined going in, but people said it was beautiful. On board the Captain served delicious local juices. (Later on Moorea we will visit the plantation where it is processed) A must see adventure!! Top Dive Bora Bora Top Dive was on time for pick up. There were a couple people from the boat that went with them. Everything was ready to go on the boat. There were 2 Divemasters for 5 divers. We were surprised there were no depth gauges. The Divemasters were very professional and friendly. They switched the BC’s on the boat for the second dive. The boats were well designed but tight with 10 divers. Spectacular sea life. Jurald was good about checking you air gauge under water. SATURDAY Moorea Dr. Poole’s Whale Watch and Dolphin Cruise The PhD was arrogant, but the Captain and Spotter were terrific! We went out beyond the barrier reef and right away spotted a baby whale (or as I was corrected a calf) and its mother. The mother surfaced in 12 to 15 minute intervals as she was resting. It was very exciting! At one point Michael Poole stood in front of me. I tapped him on the back and said I was a paying customer and could he please sit down. One side of the boat is supposed to sit while the other side can stand. He informed me that he paid plenty and would not. What they heck does that mean? When the other whale surfaced VERY CLOSE to the back of the boat he ran back and got in front of everyone’s photo, so he could get take a picture. So most in the boat saw his back, not the whale. Most questions were answered after he made sure that you knew your question was stupid. He ate an apple in front of everyone as he talked on our way out of the bay. (I felt that was rude) He did go row by row and asked where you were from. That was nice, BUT, he then proceeded to have a comment about each home town. Like, how he’s been there, who he knows, and sometimes strange comments like Is there a highway that goes through San Antonio? I guess he is trying to be more friendly or warm. He came off as weird and not comfortable around people. Why not just say, Welcome, Glad you’re here. We don’t need to be impressed that you know important people around the world. We went into calmer waters of the bay. We never saw, and they tried hard, to spot any dolphins. We stopped in the middle of Cook’s Bay and took photos of anyone who wanted a terrific background to a group shot. It was very scenic. The whales are worth it, you just need to tune out the egomaniacal PhD. The boat left Moorea around 5pm and arrived Papeete at 7:30pm. Some disembarked that evening for late night flights. We disembarked, on our own at 7am, caught a ferry back to Moorea for a 5 night stay at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort. It has a 5 star location, but is a 3.5 star hotel. Would NOT recommend that hotel to anyone. GENERAL Boat Comments We liked the smaller boat. Nothing was really missing, except less walking to and from. It took us half the time to get on and around the boat compared to the Sapphire or Ruby Princess. It didn’t sway any differently and we were in some high winds and swells for some crossing. The boat ran on time. We arrived when we were suppose, shows started on time, etc. The entire Pacific Princess staff was friendly and helpful. They always greeted us in the halls or back on the boat was met with a “welcome back” or “Did you enjoy your day?” I would like to see in the safety drill (when all are present) a lesson on how to close your stateroom door without slamming. Hard to believe your neighbors can’t figure out how to hold the door and pull it shut so it doesn’t SLAM shut. We would also like to see a larger TV and more selection of channels. The Love Boat all day? Really? Remember to fill out the recognition forms to recognize a crew member. Everyone are nice, but some more than others. It means something to them. We had no complaint with the food. Even on theme night; if you didn’t want any of the German entrees they would have 2 fish dishes, seafood, and you could always get cheeses, salad, pizza or go to the BBQ grill for hamburgers, bratz, or hot dogs with fries. You never left hungry. My favorite foods were the chilled papaya and apple cider cream soup and the cream cheese brownies. For lunch there was always cheese, luncheon meats, multiple cold salads, pre-made sandwiches, jello, as well as warm vegs, meat and fish, pasta made to order, 2 hot soups,, rolls galore, at least 6 cakes, puddings, tarts and 2 flavored ice creams of the day. The staff was ALWAYS friendly, helpful and courteous. Internet: I bought a 100 minute package ($69) from the boat as none of our devices worked. No real free Wi-Fi, the Vini cards I bought were a rip off, etc. I wouldn’t complain about the SLOW speed until I noticed it took more than 2 minutes to get connected to my Gmail account, and I type fast. That’s 20 minutes in a 10 day cruise that I did not get minutes I paid for. The Internet Manager on the boat said that the Tahiti cruises get twice as many signing up for an Internet package than any other itinerary. It’s the only thing that worked. So be wary of how may minutes you might need and how many just to connect. The Internet room always had plenty of computers available. You CAN connect from your stateroom, or most places on the boat. I just felt I could type faster with a keyboard then from my cell phone. The stateroom was clean and never felt cramped. There was plenty of closet space, hangars, drawers and shelves for our stuff for the 10 days. The shower and toiletries were adequate. Shows: We did not frequent the night shows. The culinary presentation with the Chefs was good. The tour of the kitchen was amazing. I couldn’t believe how clean the entire kitchen was. They serve 3,000 meals a day. Amazing! I did go to BINGO a couple times. The final $1,500 prize money was hard to resist. We found they start on time and are organized. The Captain was on hand. We saw him just about every day. His afternoon briefings were fun to listen to. His sense of humor… priceless! It sounds like he loves what he does and cares about every passenger’s safety. Photos: We would have bought more photos but the backgrounds (in the ports) weren’t as nice as they could have been. We didn’t want people behind us, where they could have been a spectacular view of the islands. We really had a great time on the cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We were extremely disappointed in princess' boarding for our cruise from Papeete. After getting our boarding card with very little trouble or delay we waited in line for over an hour and a half to get on the ship. They only used one ... Read More
We were extremely disappointed in princess' boarding for our cruise from Papeete. After getting our boarding card with very little trouble or delay we waited in line for over an hour and a half to get on the ship. They only used one gangway (the second gangway was used for departing passengers; and there were hardly any) took our id pictures and ran us through the metal detector. We got s different excuse from each staff member we asked but were told by several that boarding in Paapeete always takes extra time. Not really a big deal now that it's over since I doubt I'll ever cruise on the Pacifi Princess again since it is for sale (Ocean Princess already sold to Oceania) AND even though it is the same ship as Azamara and Oceania sail, it does not measure up in any category - food service, food quality, enrichment lectures, entertainment, grill, or activities. The single exception was the Casino Bar entertainer, Jere Ring; possibly the BEST entertainer I have ever seen on a cruise ship. We did enjoy the itinerary, 3 ports in Tahiti, 5 days to Hawaii, 3 ports in Hawaii, then 5 days to LA. There was no Anytime Dining which is usually available on Princess ships. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Having only sailed on Princess' bigger ships, I was a bit concerned about sailing across the Pacific on the considerably smaller Pacific Princess. But I was pleasantly surprised! The ship was very stable and we had calm seas all the ... Read More
Having only sailed on Princess' bigger ships, I was a bit concerned about sailing across the Pacific on the considerably smaller Pacific Princess. But I was pleasantly surprised! The ship was very stable and we had calm seas all the way. After an 8-hour flight from L.A. to Papeete, we arrived at 6 a.m. and were put on a bus for a tour of the city before boarding the ship. I really love this ship. Because it only holds 640 passengers, there were never any lines for anything and always plenty of seats for the shows. Even disembarkation in Los Angeles was a breeze. I think it took 5 minutes! Ports were beautiful: Moorea, Bora Bora, Hilo, Honolulu and Lahaina. Lots of sea days, but plenty of activities to choose from. It was much easier to meet people on this ship because you keep running into the same people every day. Since there is only one dining room, there was an early and late seating. I would prefer anytime dining, but I got used to the early sitting. Of course, there's always the buffet if you want to eat on your own schedule. All in all, a wonderful, memorable cruise. I hope to sail on Pacific Princess again soon. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
December 8 – 18, 2014 ***Papeete, Tahiti: Monday, December 8th*** Our arrival in Tahiti was at 5 AM after flying aboard Air Tahiti Nui nonstop from Los Angeles during the night; our departure was at 10:40 PM on Sunday night, December ... Read More
December 8 – 18, 2014 ***Papeete, Tahiti: Monday, December 8th*** Our arrival in Tahiti was at 5 AM after flying aboard Air Tahiti Nui nonstop from Los Angeles during the night; our departure was at 10:40 PM on Sunday night, December 7th. Rain greeted our arrival, signaling things to come. We had booked Princess’ transfer from the airport to the ship, which also involved a short tour of the Island of Tahiti, from 8 AM until 12 N, the earliest check-in time for our beautiful, small ship, the Pacific Princess. The rain continued on and off throughout the morning and further complicated our check-in procedures, but FINALLY we were aboard in our BEAUTIFUL SUITE! Named the “Pacific Suite” our stateroom #6003 is huge! A full living room has a sofa and two easy chairs, along with a table and 4 chairs. A large TV is enclosed in a cabinet in this room. A guest bathroom is next to the entrance. Then the bedroom is equally spectacular with a king size bed with another big TV, large closets, along with a table in front of a large circular window on the side. The bathroom is wonderful with a Jacuzzi bathtub and spacious counter with twin mirrored cabinets. Across the entire suite is a huge balcony containing a table and 4 chairs along with two chaise lounges. The suite contains over 750 square feet of space. Originally booked into a Mini-Suite, we were then offered this upgrade to a full suite for what I considered to be a rather modest price, so I took it. Basically, we are paying $1948 pp for a suite that normally goes for $4799. Quite an upgrade! ***Papeete, Tahiti: Tuesday, December 9th*** Still in Papeete, we took an all tour of the Island of Tahiti, encircling the entire island during the day, stopping at many sites of interest. I saw and learned more about Tahiti than I have ever known previously. Among them were the ancient, traditional Marea stones - a place of worship, exquisite gardens displaying an array of beautiful flowering plants, lily ponds with water lilies, and several deep caves dripping water from the roofs, and finally a wonderful museum specializing in Tahitian history. Lunch at a seaside restaurant was also included. It was a long but enjoyable day, to be sure. Rain had been intermittent during the day but came to a climax just as our tour ended, drenching our return aboard ship. Then the sun came out! ***Huahine, Polynesia: Wednesday, December 10th*** Today we have been at anchor in a bay on the Island of Huahine. This morning we took a ship’s excursion from the tender dock over to a moto, an island inside the reef encircling the main island of Huahine. Walking across the moto to the ocean side we encountered the portion of the lagoon between the moto and the reef on which the surf pounded. Most of those on our tour spent time luxuriating in the calm, shallow waters of lagoon. Then it was time for lunch, which was served on tables sitting in the shallow lagoon with tiny fish swimming around one’s feet. The lunch itself was surprisingly delicious topped off with fresh papaya, bananas and coconut. Local dancers entertained us – in the water! - during our lunch and the whole experience was splendid. Tomorrow we are at sea on our way to Rangiroa where we will be for the day on Friday. This will be my first visit to this island. On our similar trip back in 2003, we journeyed down to Raratonga in the Cook Islands instead of Rangiroa. So our 10-day visit to Paradise is now underway, and we hope for clear skies and no more rain. ***Rangiroa, Polynesia: Friday, December 12th*** Yesterday was spent on the Island of Rangiroa, to which we had sailed for over a day at sea; today we are again at sea returning towards the Island of Raiatea where we will be tomorrow. Our tour was a lagoon snorkel outing lasting for a couple of hours around noontime. Arriving by tender an hour before our scheduled tour time, I enjoyed a Hinnano beer at a local spot before hand. Since our snorkeling tour was not until noontime, we were lazy and went up to Sabatini’s for our breakfast at around 9 AM. Being suite passengers, this is a perq that is a real pleasure. We again went there this morning for breakfast. It had been quite some time since last I snorkeled and I found I tired rather quickly; there must have been a current impeding my movement because as hard as I worked my flippers, I didn’t seem to go very far. The fish were very abundant in the area of of snorkeling, the “Aquarium,” and the bread we brought from the ship to feed them was quickly devoured. It was with relief that I ended my dive and climbed back aboard our dive boat. Time has taken its toll, I guess. Before returning to the tender dock, our dive boat journeyed out into the channel in the reef that is open to the ocean and its big waves where many dolphins were playing. It was an unexpected pleasure to observe them jumping very near our boat, surfing down the large waves. Needless to say, our return to the Pacific Princess was met with a strong need for a shower and rest. Night before last was the first of our formal nights so out came the tuxedo for the evening. Our dinner seating is not until 8:15 PM and is rather sparsely attended, most choosing the earlier dinner seating at 6 PM, but we prefer the later time. Today at noon we are invited to a special luncheon for the “Top 40 Most Traveled” passengers aboard, hosted by the Captain in Sabatini’s specialty restaurant. This will be the fourth time we have been so honored on a cruise. I am number 13 and Jim is number 14 in this group. Then later this afternoon, at 3 PM, is another wine tasting for which we have complimentary tickets. Day before yesterday was the Maitre ‘D Wine Tasting which I attended for a price of $25, enjoying the special wines presented along with appropriate hors d’oeuvres. The next four days will be busy since we are in port everyday. More later. ***Raiatea, Polynesia: Sunday, December 14th*** Yesterday was our day in Raiatea, having journeyed back from Rangiroa on Saturday, and our tour of the day was a “Drift Snorkel” out on one of the motos in the lagoon shared by the Islands of Raiatea and Tahaa, the only such sharing in the world. We were taken on a fast motor boat, covered, which took us from the tender pier out past Tahaa to a moto on which is located the Tahaa Coral Gardens, a narrow waterway in which the current from the ocean propels a snorkeler along amid brilliant coral structures, well-populated by a myriad of colorful fish, a real treat to experience. The water near these motos is an incredible turquoise blue, aided by the pristine white sand on the bottom of the shallows. After two such drifts down this unique waterway, we relaxed aboard our boat, munching on fresh papaya, pineapple and small bananas in addition to coconut pieces. Then it was time for a very speedy return back to the tender dock, during which we were given quite a bouncy ride. Return to our luxurious suite aboard the Pacific Princess was to a welcome hot shower and a nap from the morning’s activity. Raiatea is one of the few ports of call where our ship is docked and not at anchor, requiring tender transfer ashore. I’ve been told that the fabulous dock complex at Raiatea was built by Renaissance Cruises during their hay day, before their bankruptcy following the events of 9/11. It remains today although much of the complex is unused. ***Bora Bora, Polynesia: Monday, December 15th*** We are at anchor in the lagoon of Bora Bora where we were met early this morning by heavy rain. Our tour of the day, a 4WD ride around the Island was cancelled because of the very wet roadway, a result of the rain. Since we are also here for the full day tomorrow, on which we have two other tours, the cancellation was a rather pleasant relief, a chance to catch up on sleep. Rain has continued during the day, on and off, but we will probably take a tender into the town later in the day during a respite from the rain. Just outside the spacious windows of our suite one can see the towering spires that characterize the beautiful Island of Bora Bora, possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth! ***Bora Bora, Polynesia: Tuesday, December 16th*** Today is our second day in Bora Bora and, unlike yesterday, the weather is clear and beautiful. We had scheduled two tours, both of which turned out to be enjoyable. In the morning we again boarded a tour boat for traveling out to an area inside the lagoon where the water was quite shallow, allowing for us to get into the waist-deep water to play with and feed the myriad of stingrays. Touching one of these stingrays is something else, a very velvety feel. They are so tame because for years they have been regularly fed by humans at this location, so they gather in expectation of more of the same. Then our tour boat moved to another area inside the lagoon for snorkeling in the neighborhood of stunning coral structures and the attendant hordes of beautifully colored fish. Once finished with this we returned to the tender dock to await our second tour, a “Le Truck” ride all around the Island of Bora Bora. The time between tours allowed us to return to the ship to dispose of our snorkeling equipment and change into dry clothes. Then it was back on the tender to begin our Island Drive. We stopped several places during our circumference drive, to see how the locals made tie-died fabrics, to view the vista from a high point along the road, and a stop at the one public beach on the Island. The highlight was a stop at Bloody Mary’s Restaurant, a very famous landmark in Bora Bora, visited by celebrities and famous people whose names are listed on a large board at the entrance. Although closed for business during the month of December for holiday and refurbishment, it was still open for our inspection – since there are no doors! Then it was finally time to return to our ship for preparation of the evening’s festivities, being our second formal night. At 7:30 PM was the Captain’s Circle Party well attended by Princess’ frequent cruisers and hosted by the Captain. FREE DRINKS! Recognition was made of the top three cruisers aboard, number one going to a couple with over 600 days aboard. Jim and I were down the list at number 14 and 13 with a few over 300 days. Then still decked out in tuxedos we enjoyed a very special dinner of lobster tails together with large tiger shrimp. To top it off there was another of Princess’ famous soufflés, this one hazelnut with vanilla sauce. Umm-GOOD! After dinner I went to see my one production show of the cruise at 10:15 PM and was somewhat disappointed, both by the mediocre quality of the presentation and also by the incredibly poor attendance. Just too late for many cruisers, I guess. ***Moorea, Polynesia: Wednesday, December 17th*** These 10 days of our cruise in French Polynesia seem to have flown by and today in Moorea was our last day. Tomorrow EARLY we fly back home to Los Angeles. Our tour for the day was a boat ride out to one of the motos in the lagoon of Moorea where we waded ashore for a few hours, sunning and playing in the crystal clear, shallow waters of the lagoon, and watching our guides feed the many stingrays that inhabit the lagoon. The rays are very tame and seek out the feeding hands of humans, swooping along underwater and quite visible from above. A barbeque lunch was included and offered barbequed chicken, sausages and fish along with salad, rice and fresh pineapple. It was really quite good. It was just so relaxing, sitting there absorbing the beautiful surroundings, a perfect end for a wonderful cruise. Now it is time to think about packing for our departure. So, now to the most annoying task of the cruise; packing! Our bags have to be placed in the hallway by 10 PM tonight and our check-in for departure is at 5:15 AM tomorrow morning, for our 7:20 AM flight back to Los Angeles. It will be a very busy evening, to say the least. Tonight will be the Parade of the Baked Alaska in the dining room. This will be it for my cruise journal for this wonderful 10-day French Polynesia cruise aboard the beautiful Pacific Princess, and our spectacular suite accommodations. ***Corona del Mar: Thursday, December 18th*** A few additional comments are in order about the flight home. According to plan, we went to the lounge at 5:15 AM to check-in for our transfer to the airport and were the third group to leave the ship, first identifying our luggage in the holding area for separate transit. Arrival at the airport in a mini-van was right on time, about a 15 minute ride, where we then collected our luggage to join the lengthy line for check-in – which seemed to take forever! But that line was nothing compared to the next long line for security check. Apparently ours was not the only early morning flight leaving Tahiti. When finally we cleared security and found our departure gate, the flight was already loading, so we followed the line outside to Air Tahiti Nui’s Airbus 340 and climbed the stairs to board. Prior to our trip I had attempted - online - to change our seat assignments, with partial success. My seat request of 36 A&B (on the side) on the inbound flight had been replaced by seats 12 D&E, in the center section – although much closer to the front. With the 2-4-2 seating plan in this aircraft, these seats were reluctantly acceptable. However, on the outbound flight, I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had been assigned seats 19 A&B – the ones requested online. Being a daytime flight very little sleep was achieved but watching a couple of movies on the updated seat-back entertainment system made the 8-hour flight pass pleasantly. The two meals we were served were surprisingly delicious and very little air turbulence occurred. Our arrival in Los Angeles was right on schedule at 5:35 PM. After traversing the lengthy walkways of the new Bradley International Terminal to passport control and then to baggage claim and then through customs check, we finally exited the terminal where we soon found our SuperShuttle for the ride home. Luckily we were the first of three parties on our van to be delivered home, and our trip was over!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Booked our flight and transfer to Tahiti thru Princess, and everything went as expected. The flight was on time and we arrived at 5:00 AM in Papeete, our pick-up to the ship was scheduled at 8:00 AM so we did have to wait a while at the ... Read More
Booked our flight and transfer to Tahiti thru Princess, and everything went as expected. The flight was on time and we arrived at 5:00 AM in Papeete, our pick-up to the ship was scheduled at 8:00 AM so we did have to wait a while at the airport but the bus was on time and rather than take us straight to the ship we were given an Island tour for the next 3 1/2 hours... everyone was tired but it gave us a taste of things to come. Gorgeous Grotto, wonderful waterfalls and the colorful flowers cheered us all up after our eight hour flight from Los Angeles. Check in was fast and easy. After having sailed on larger ships, everything was smaller but well laid out. The Pacific Princess is an older ship but beautifully maintained. Our balcony cabin #7009 was a fair size and the shower was as expected, not very large but well laid out. We had sufficient room for all our luggage and the two suitcases we brought fit perfectly under the bed. The nice thing about sailing on a smaller ship is that everything is easy to find and nothing is very far - we used the stairs, never the elevators. There were no long lines anywhere - not even at the Buffet. We were told that the ship was not completely sold out, approximately 500 passengers which may have been the reason for no long lines. The dining room schedules were for 6PM early seating and 8:30PM late seating. We chose the early seating and never had to wait, We loved having the same waiter and busboy for dinner every night, table #42 - they were totally awesome We usually have anytime dining but on this cruise the scheduled seating worked well. We did notice people lining up for the later seating but I don't think they were ever late in getting into the dining room. Our favorite bar was the Club Bar where we spent many enjoyable hours with our friends and our favorite bartender and Bar Server. The food in the dining room was great, no complaints from us or our travel companions. The buffet food was ok, but what can you expect from a buffet? We never like to eat at a buffet so for us to rate this would not be fair. We did have breakfast there several times and the food was hot and plentiful. I cannot comment on the entertainment on the ship since we never made it to any of the shows. I did use the casino a couple of times and it is very, very small but it was never crowded. The nice thing about this ship was that there was only one small area on the pool deck designated for smokers, so no smoke in the casino and no smoke on the balconies. What can I say about the Islands of French Polynesia... so many things to do and see: snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing. We loved snorkeling with the sharks and stingrays. On land there were sightseeing tours along the coast and jeep safaris into the interior. We purchased several tours thru Princess and were not disappointed, pricing was slightly higher than tours you could purchase on land. We found that every island had a couple of tours available as you came of the tender. We took one tour at the pier and were not disappointed, it was a 4 hour snorkeling tour with a stop at the Moto on the island of . Our friends had not booked a tour early enough and could not join us and were able to grab a car and take a tour around the island of Huahine - I believe the cost was $150 for 4 hours. Here is a list of tours we took and what you can expect: Huahine - Outrigger Transfer to Hana Iti Beach - did some snorkeling in wonderful warm water..... Rangiroa - Lagoon Snorkel - snorkeling with sharks,stingrays and fish of every color. Warm, warm water in the most gorgeous colors you can imagine. Raiatea - Faaroa Crater & River, Taputapuatea Marae - a jeep tour to the interior of the island. It was pouring rain when we drove to the volcano, so it was very humid but this did not prohibit us from having a blast. Stopped at Taputapuatea - the most sacred pagan site in French Polynesia. The sacred stones are used to meditate or pray on. It was an interesting tour however unless you are interested in the history of the island a snorkel tour would be better. Bora Bora - booked a tour from one of the islanders and had an awesome time snorkeling with the sharks and stingrays, visited his motu and had refreshments on his island. The tour cost us $80 for 4 hours. Great Great Tour. Bora Bora - the next day (you will be on the island for two days) we took a shuttle $5 to Bloody Mary's - from there visited a Pearl Farm and walked to the beach - would not recommend walking - as its probably 2 miles and very very humid. We did walk back to Bloody Mary's - would not recommend eating at the place - food was expensive and not very good - service was also very, very slow. Drinks however were very, very good.... Moorea- Motu Islet Beach - 5 hour tour - including Barbecue and snorkeling on a moto. Gorgeous scenery, beautiful, warm water and two very tame sting rays that came and played with everyone in the water. I think the tour could have been an hour shorter, after the barbecue people were ready to go home but we did have a great time swimming in the warm waters. This was one amazing adventure and we loved every minute of our trip and as I sit here on my couch back home I yearn to be back on the Pacific Princess in my balcony room enjoying the gorgeous scenery and having a drink at the Club Bar.. Until next time...... Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
This ship is old but very well maintained. We loved the spiral staircase, the wood banisters, the brass. The good: Embarking was quick and easy. Same with debarkation. A small ship means no really long waits for elevators or tables at the ... Read More
This ship is old but very well maintained. We loved the spiral staircase, the wood banisters, the brass. The good: Embarking was quick and easy. Same with debarkation. A small ship means no really long waits for elevators or tables at the buffet. Not much of a tender line either. We were in room 7048, a super mid ship balcony room. Service was excellent in both our cabin and the MDR Service at the buffet was the best I've ever experienced in seven cruises. Princess has really good pizza in the buffet. The glitches. It's a smaller ship so, even with calm seas, you feel a lot more movement. Food in MDR was not as good as I've had on other ships. It wasn't bad, just sometimes it was a bit mediocre. For example, the prime rib was a very thin cut, the beef medallions were too tough for me to eat. The Ceasar salads looked as if they had been made up at least an hour earlier, if not more. I enjoyed the seafood though. Desserts were good too. Some people complained about the buffet being small but it was a smaller ship. At breakfast, there was always plenty to choose from. There is only one small pool. This was not a problem for us but, in high season with lots of children on board, it could be. We did two excursions from the ship. Both guides were very knowledgeable, though one excursion was a little less than I had hoped in terms of what we saw. Ports were great. I enjoyed my day in Bora Bora the most. Turquoise water, lots of great snorkeling. I only made it to the shows twice. The comedian was pretty good. The cabaret show was OK, I give the dancers credit for being able to dance on a shifting stage! In short, we will try Princess again if its an itinerary we want, but maybe a little larger ship next time. I think the Pacific Princess would be great on a Hawaiian cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Hello Reviewers, My wife and I wanted to see Bora Bora and Moorea on our honeymoon, and taking a cruise was the most affordable way to accomplish this. Plus it allowed us to see the other islands. We were traveling from Toronto, and the ... Read More
Hello Reviewers, My wife and I wanted to see Bora Bora and Moorea on our honeymoon, and taking a cruise was the most affordable way to accomplish this. Plus it allowed us to see the other islands. We were traveling from Toronto, and the main way to get to Tahiti is through LAX. I watched the prices climb and climb and climb to the point where it was $3500 a person for flight alone which was cost prohibitive, so we decided to fly to Honolulu for two nights before the cruise on United Airlines, then take Hawaiian airlines to Tahiti. The problem is Hawaiian airlines only flies to Tahiti on Saturdays so, after the cruise we had four nights to burn, so we stayed on longer. These two flights were about $1300 per person so we put the savings toward extra days on our vacation. My wife is gluten free so meals is a challenge. United doesn't provide meals on the 9 hour flight from Toronto (via Chicago) to Honolulu. You have to buy them. You can't buy gluten free meals, you can't call ahead and order something either. Taking food across the border is challenging because everything gets inspected. I would not fly United again. Hawaiian airlines provided a free meal during the 6 hour flight but no gluten free meals, and no you can't order ahead of time either. Honolulu was great, we stayed at the Illikai which is old but I loved it. I only had two days and used one of them to see Pearl Harbor (a must see). We wished we had more time, and will be back. There is an Ihop and a 24 hour breakfast place across the street and to the right from the main doors. It is good, cheap and convenient. There are convenience stores inside the lobby and across the street. They sell alcohol, some food, and almost everything else you could need. The pools and beach is nearby and there are fireworks every Friday night. Don't miss them. We arrived in Papeete at about 9:30 PM. Most people were already onboard by this time, so there was no line, we just went to the tent to sign our forms get our room card, and off to room 7070. Great cabin by the way. Dead Center, mid ship. We woke up the next morning which was a Sunday and walked around town to find nothing open. The place is locked up like Ft Knox. So we just hung out on the ship. They were doing maintenance on the pool that day. If I was doing it again, I would have booked a circle tour of Tahiti for this day. Next day Huahine. We did a jet ski/snorkel excursion with Huahine-Nautique. This was an amazing tour. The guide was great, the jetski's were new, and well maintained (and stable). The snorkeling was great. There were 4 couples and the guide and it was much longer than we paid for. I would highly recommend this excursion. The next day was a sea day so we just hung out by the pool. The next day was Ragniroa-There isn't much to do and I usually book excursions (not from the ship) but I booked an snorkeling excursion with Princess, and surprise surprise it was absolutely AMAZING- the best snorkeling I have ever done or likely will do. FISH everywhere, some reef sharks, baracuda, and Moray Eels. Our guide dove down and grabbed and eel around the neck and started dragging him out from the coral. He couldn't get his hands completely around the eel it was so big. I have video of this. -The problem- and don't less this deter you- a lady on the next cruise swam through area where they were feeding the fish and an eel bit her knee causing her to need some stitches. I'm sure this is very uncommon, but be aware. This excursion was $99 and i would not hesitate in booking again. -The next day was another sea day- I won the second last game of Bingo, and my wife won the last game, the jackpot. We were happy but very unpopular on the ship...lol -The following day was Raiatea and we booked Excursion Bleu. It was a boat trip around the islands with snorkeling, stops and a fruit plantation and vanilla plantation. It included a picnic on a beautiful beach islet. It was good. The guide Bruno was okay. Some people found him rude, I didn't think so. I think his personality is not super touristy, and his accent made it difficult to understand him at times, but I thought he was friendly and accommodating. Next was two days in Bora Bora. The island is obviously gorgeous as is the lagoon. We did a 4x4 island tour which was $70 USD per person with Stanley (who we met on shore). We waited to see if others would join, but no one did, so our tour became a private one. Bumpy roads off the beaten path to see the guns from WW2 that were never used, as well as great views. Some people said they thought Bora Bora was too built up. I did not. It doesn't compare to the Caribbean at all where the ports are extremely built up and all look the same. There are a lot of hotels with overwater bungalos and such but the island is not built up. The next day we did a snorkel safari with Sharks and Stingrays. It was incredible. The reef sharks are fed every day so they keep coming back. They get uncomfortably close at times, but were harmless in our experience. My go pro camera stopped working so I did not get the video i was hoping for. The next day was Moorea, we did an ATV tour with ATV Moorea Tours. It was a 2.5 hour excursion all over the island it was great, and they offered to allow us to book another hour to remain with the 3.5 hour excursion but it was so hot especially wearing the helmet that I was happy with 2.5 hours, and I wanted to hit the pool and cool off. We then sailed back to Papeete that night for our last night in port. The next day we disembarked and took the high speed ferry back to Moorea where we were staying for 3 nights. On the way a huge whale jumped out of the water beside the ferry and put on a show for us. It is the end of whale season so we were very lucky. We stayed at the Hilton Moorea in an over water Bungalow the first night. This hotel is awesome and it was an experience we didn't want to miss. It cost us $720 a night but was well worth it for the novelty. Two nights would have been perfect but I wouldn't need any more than that. My wife disagrees, she could spend a week there she said. The food is incredibly expensive. a personal pizza and Caesar salad with chicken and bottle of water cost us $67 Canadian for lunch and those were the cheapest things on the menu. This is where the cruise ship shows its value, food is free there. If you go to French Polynesia, bring your wallet! The next day we went to the Pearl Resort and Spa Moorea in a regular room. It was fine but we were spoiled from the Hilton so we were unimpressed. There is a food truck place across the street from the Pearl so try there, it's open at 6PM, much cheaper and the food is good. I got my go pro working and wanted better video, so we did another jet ski/snorkeling excursion, $250 USD for two people sharing a jetski. The guide was fantastic but the jetskis were old and not that stable. My wife wouldn't drive it, although did drive the other one we did. The snorkeling was great, we just found it too short, especially for the $$$ but that the way it goes. We took the slow ferry back to Tahiti and spent one night at the Manava resort. It was okay as well. Not much of a beach there, but nice pool. if you walk out of the hotel and go left, on the water side of the road there are food trucks about a five minute walk down the road. They arrive around 6. There are pizza and burger trucks, as well as steak and fish. We ate there twice cause its much cheaper and the food is good. We booked another jetski excursion to snorkel with the Sharks and Rays. This left right from our hotel which was super convenient. After one night in Papeete, we took the red eye back to Hawaii and stayed at the Illikai. I love this place. Right in Waikiki. They let us check in early thank god. We slept till noon then booked the Chiefs Luau for that night. IT was great. Expensive but great, bus picked us up at 4PM, and we got the royal package so we were right in front of the stage, got 3 free drinks, and a buffet which was excellent. The Chief was hilarious and there was crowd participation. I would highly recommend it. The weather was extremely good. All sun, no ran for our entire honeymoon. The Cabin was good. For an old ship, it is holding together well. The staff were amazing. The dining staff, Gabriel was outstanding and took my wifes food order for the next day, each night to ensure gluten free options. The entertainment was okay, but I always find it okay. It is usually geared toward seniors as seniors make up the majority of passengers so I can't fault that logic. This is an itinerary where it's important to book an excursion every day. The islands are small and not built up so there is little to see. It's best to do water excursions such as snorkeling, diving, jetskiing etc. Don't bother with island tours except for Moorea and Bora Bora.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We picked this cruise for its' itinerary and it was way less money than the Paul Gaugin. We also upgraded to an Owner's Suite and had high expectations for the ship, cruise, and suite amenities. Flew into Papeete a day early and ... Read More
We picked this cruise for its' itinerary and it was way less money than the Paul Gaugin. We also upgraded to an Owner's Suite and had high expectations for the ship, cruise, and suite amenities. Flew into Papeete a day early and had a very expensive night at the Inter-Continental Hotel. 2 buffet breakfasts (similar to what Americans are used to at a Marriott for free) cost $38.00/pp, and the entire bill came to $522 for one night. The property is in sore need of upgrading and a reality check on their prices, and consistency of enforcement of hotel policies. Also, it would be nice to be informed of the Happy Hour specials, hours, etc. Yes, they have a Happy Hour and it is worth taking advantage of as a mixed drink is $18 USD. Embarkation on the Pacific Princess was super fast and really set the mood for our onboard experience. The suite was very spacious and we were lukewarmly welcomed by our cabin steward, Eric. This is the first time that we have gotten a steward that was less than enthusiastic about his job, and was generally not very attentive. I should mention that we are not high maintenance cruisers and try to develop good relations with cruise staff from the start. The suite is in need of a complete renovation as does most of the public areas in the ship. Our fellow cruise passengers came from all over the globe: Chile, Peru, Scotland, England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, Indonesia,and France. Princess Cruises needs to appreciate and recognize that their customer's spend a significant amount of time and money just to get to Papeete. The best way to show this appreciation would be to replace the current ships with nicer, newer ones. This is not our first cruise with Princess and the service, food quality, food selection, cleanliness of our suite, and lack of service was disappointing. For example, the waiters at the buffet were pretty much non-existent as far as service went; we self-served our beverages the entire cruise! The buffet food selection was a very unique (and not in an especially good way) and not dishes most European and North Americans recognized. Food just lacked flavor and presentation. Also, customer's arriving in the late afternoon from hot and humid excursions were not given sufficient amount of time to dine as they begin pulling all of the fresh and hot stations prior to 2:30 PM. It would be helpful to have the buffet open later than 2:30 PM. Onboard entertainment was mediocre with exception of the lady dancers, the duo from Canada that played sometimes on the pool deck, and Dan Riley. If you ever get a chance to see Dan Riley in person; do it as he is so very talented and just an enjoyable person. The shore excursions were fine and we enjoyed most of them with exception of the Island Bus Tour on Moorea. It is owned and operated by a Swiss/Tahitian named William. He also owns about half the business on the island and most of his tour time is spent pointing out his 2 jewelry shops, his cousin's motel, Auntie's café, etc. Caution: you will be forced to disembark at his jewelry store which is the only restroom stop on the tour, and he supposedly does not sell any grades of pearls other than A, B, and C. This is a lie as I bought one that he certified as a Grade B and is a D. Shame on me......Only buy your pearls from reputable jewelry stores such as Tahia. Are we glad that we went on this cruise to French Polynesia? Yes. Would we sail on the Pacific Princess again? Absolutely not. Was it worth the extra money we paid for a owner' suite? Not so much, as Princess has cut down on amenities such as: no more fresh flowers in suite, and don't expect to see any of those cute folded towel animals on your bed. Regarding the Paul Gaugin: we met a number of women that spent a week on this ship at the airport. They said it was okay but were very disappointed in the quality and selection of food, and the pricey shore excursions. My advice: save a bunch of money and if your must go to French Polynesia...try a different cruise line other than Princess or Paul Gaugin. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
The cruise itinerary was superb; I loved Tahiti & the South Pacific (Society Islands). I am a solo traveler, so having the extra room was excellent. Balcony was small (unless you are in a mini or regular suite, they are small). The ... Read More
The cruise itinerary was superb; I loved Tahiti & the South Pacific (Society Islands). I am a solo traveler, so having the extra room was excellent. Balcony was small (unless you are in a mini or regular suite, they are small). The ship was good. It was smaller than those megaships but not in a Seabourne/Silversea way. It needed to go to dry dock as the furnishing and carpets, etc were extremely worn out. Service in the dining room was really bad and snooty. The meals felt as they were all pre-prepared (but this is the case on almost any ship anyway). Princess does offer gluten-free and rice milk, which is GREAT but far off the track of having healthy prepared foods. That's ok, that is the cruise ship culture. I digress. When I mentioned the service was poor in the dining room, I meant the service was really slow (2 hours to get your full service from start to end) and on one day while in port in Raiatea, it was a "tropical casual" night. Therefore, I met friends and decided it would be "OK" to use the dining room for dinner. I was dressed in a baseball cap, jeans and shirt. I was asked to wait on the side by the headwaiter. My friends, who were wearing hats, shorts and sandals were immediately seated and Rui (the headwaiter) declined to seat me. I spoke with the maitre'd and I decided not to continue eating in the dining room the last few nights. It was not fun and very poorly handled (the maitre'd was nice though). Anyway, the room service (as all other ships) is standard, 24 hours and have the same things on the menu BUT unlike other ships, there is no additional charge for after-midnight service. That was a nicer touch than NCL. Entertainment was so-so. I guess I see too many real shows in NYC, the Pantages (here in LA), Miami and the West End. Their Polynesian dancers were superb. The comedian (Cary Long) was one of the WORST ever - not funny at all and actually quite narcissistic (when speaking to him in private). The ship's main areas were either FREEZING or HOT. I would prefer freezing for the most part (the entertainment lounge). The other bars and the dining room were really warm and basically semi-sauna-like on some occasions. The worst part of the itinerary was overnighting in Papeete twice (front end and back end). It was most definitely the worst port. The nicest thing I have ever sen any cruise line do was allow you to stay and use the ship facilities the day of disembarkation if you purchase their transfers. I had an overnight flight around midnight and was able to shower using the Lotus Spa and eat onboard. Another beautiful touch! All in all, the ship was pretty average. The service was average to poor and the cabins were average to good (in my humble opinion). The itinerary these ships typically do are quite excellent! I am super glad I went and overall recommend the product even though I am a harsh critic! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was our first experience on a Princess Cruise and our 7th cruise overall. My wife Sheryl and I (married 45 years this November) did our first cruise some 40 years ago on a Royal Caribbean Cruise line. Way back then they had travel ... Read More
This was our first experience on a Princess Cruise and our 7th cruise overall. My wife Sheryl and I (married 45 years this November) did our first cruise some 40 years ago on a Royal Caribbean Cruise line. Way back then they had travel agents and ours told us that starting our first cruise on Royal, especially for 14 days would spoil us and we would be hard pressed to find a better cruise line in the future? I always remembered that statement and it held true for 40 years! We have cruised to Mexico several times, Alaska, Caribbean again and our most spectacular cruise was in the Mediterranean to Israel,Egypt, Turkey and the Greek Isles before they closed all cruises to Israel and Egypt some 25 years ago. Consequently all other cruise lines paled in comparison to Royal, despite fabulous destinations, until we sailed on the Pacific Princess from Tahiti to Hawaii. All cruise lines have good service ( we have tried five different lines) and most have good food. Certainly those ships that carried many more passengers could offer better entertainment value? Perhaps our only average experience on Princess, as this is a small ship some 562 feet and carried only a bit more than 600 passengers. The entertainment was average at best and the stage was small,so bigger groups could not perform anyhow? This was also our first time selecting a room with a Balcony, all other previous cruises were inside cabins! Our room was excellent, we really did enjoy the Balcony and we were located only two rooms from the Stearn of the ship. I selected this location for a better ride, given we were going to spend 5 days out to sea traveling between Tahiti and Hawaii and yes we did run into rough weather while out to sea. While in our cabin we comfortable despite 12 foot seas and 35 to 40 knot winds! Our cabin service, dining service and all bar activities were exceptional, which you come to expect on a cruise line. This was certainly top of the line and we built a fantastic relationship with our head waiter and with the dining area group supervisor Falvio from Romania. We enjoyed fine wine and Flavio was a connoisseur of wine and assisted us in many great choices as we chose the gold wine plan for 12 nights which entitled us to a choice of any wine up $48 for only $28. If we chose a wine priced a little higher we paid only the difference. Our food choices were as outstanding as you could expect,all the luxury meats, fabulous appetizers and deserts to compliment the meal. I especially enjoyed the soups, most of them some form of puree or creamed. I was told long ago when dining out, if the place serves good soups it must be above average in most other food items! Sit down dining, we chose late seating(8pm) was extraordinary every evening, with a wide variety of choices and five standard items always available such as Filet Mignon, Smoked Salmon, a great pasta dish and a chicken dish. All of the Beef items offered were prepared perfectly,medium rare for me! The Prime Rib, Filet Mignon and New York steaks were tender and tasty! All of the fish dishes served were also nicely cooked and most included a delicious sauce. The pastas were all outstanding as well. The appetizers were excellent as were the deserts, and choices many! You could always order several and I liked the fact they served small portion sizes, to avoid waste which I despise, as you could always ask for more, if still hungry? I had a mobility problem (torn knee ligament) which I had surgery on after the cruise and it was great news to be on a smaller ship so I did not have to walk far to reach anywhere on the boat. Also you were fighting a big crowd at anytime, even disembarking a port. Both sit down breakfast and lunch contained a form of elegance and each was open seating, which we enjoyed as opposed to assigned seating for dinner. Both the breakfast buffet and lunch buffet contained a level of quality seldom experienced in buffets unless it was a top of the line Las Vegas buffet! The choices daily were constantly changing,although the most popular items were repeated often. Our favorite is Lox and Bagel for breakfast and Eggs Benedict, while a good omelet is always appreciated. We enjoyed these and many other exotic dishes. Since we enjoyed the dining experience so much,,we never did try the buffet for dinner. The ship also provided home made Pizza from 10am to 10pm and in the pool area you get Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, fries and chips and dips. In the morning the Pizza parlor doubled as an omelet bar! Visiting the Islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea were an experience we will not forget, such incredible beauty. Papeete is nothing more than an over priced shopping center and the Island has few tourist sites worth visiting? All in all it was a fabulous vacation on a very special ship! Thanks to all for the opportunity to realize! Our next cruise will definitely be either Princess or Royal! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Our journey began with a two hour drive to Chicago, 4.5 hour flight from O'Hare to Los Angeles and a 8.5 hour flight on Air Tahiti Nui to Papeete, Tahiti. Definitely did not enjoy the long flight on ATN. Very close quarters in the ... Read More
Our journey began with a two hour drive to Chicago, 4.5 hour flight from O'Hare to Los Angeles and a 8.5 hour flight on Air Tahiti Nui to Papeete, Tahiti. Definitely did not enjoy the long flight on ATN. Very close quarters in the main cabin on an older plane and not much rest to be had. No way of getting comfortable. Arrived in Papeete at 5:00 am. Breezed through customs and found a taxi very easily outside the airport ($20 to Intercontinental Hotel, no tip accepted) We arrived at the hotel in approx. 15 min. A beautifully tattooed man assisted with tagging luggage for our room (not yet ready) as we went to look over the resort. We had swimsuits in our carry-on so we changed and went to the pool and lagoon. The property is amazing- clean, quiet and plenty of space to roam. At 10:00 am our room was ready and it was gorgeous, beautiful view of Moorea from our third floor balcony. Spacious, whirlpool tub, dual sinks, shower stall room and toilet room, very comfortable queen or king bed, comfy white linens. We went to the Friday evening Tahitian dance show and buffet. The buffet was good and had many choices. The show was good too, but we were so exhausted from all the travel, that we left a bit early. The only concern I had was that the cost of food/drink being so expensive. A tall glass of juice in the am was $16 USD, Breakfast buffet for 2 ($88), and drinks were typically around $20 USD. Lucky we were only staying there one night prior to our cruise. The next day around noon we asked the concierge to call us a taxi and it arrived within 10 minutes (amazing). The lobby was full of incoming and outgoing guests and the staff manage to keep it organized and get people where they need to go. The service at this hotel was so good in all areas. Our taxi took us to the pier in approx. 20 minutes ($25 USD + tip). Check-in was a breeze and we were on the ship in about 10 minutes. Our cabin was not ready until 1pm so we went up to the horizon court and had a bite to eat and by then our cabin was ready. The furnishings in our mini suite 8026 were rather outdated, but the room was very clean. The set-up of the room does not seem to be of Princess standards, but I believe they purchased the ship from some other company and renamed it. Our TV was in a terrible location. Had to pull it out of the wall and angle it towards the bed to watch it. Screen was poor quality and if you forgot to push it back in at night you better remember to duck when you get out of bed and go to the bathroom, Ouch!! I like a lot of drawers in a cruise cabin and this cabin had all shelves for storage. (I know, small potatoes). This was our first time aboard a small ship for a cruise (688pp). It was truly a unique experience. We met a lot of really great people on the ship and everyone was so friendly. You become friendly with more people because you see them again and again (on shore excursions, at dinner, at the Bar!) We even met some folks that were sailing on that particular ship for a couple of months straight. They were so nice to us and they could tell you anything about the ship and crew. One lady even invited us to a cocktail party in her suite at the back of the ship and that was so great to see her room and meet some of the crew and other guests! Thanks Joyce!! Being a small ship you can get around very easily. They only offered set dining times, we had the early seating, a table for 8. I think we only had a full table the second evening. One of our very nice couples spoke mostly French so they moved to a different table with other people they met (understandably). I felt bad for them the first night and didn't understand why Princess would seat them with us due to the language difference. We did lose a couple of people during dinner due to motion, there is more movement on a small ship than the mega liners. We were very lucky, we had great seas and weather all ten days, only one day of rain and it was so warm it really didn't matter too much. We dined in the main dining room and the food was good as was the horizon court. A nice variety of foods to try and please everyone. The steakhouse (Grill or Sterling) was very good, the service there was awesome and the steaks were great. We ate there three times! We did not try Sabitini's. Drinks on the ship were tasty, average cost $6.95-7.95, beer 5 for 4 approx. $20, We purchased a coffee card $33 w/tip, 7 bottle wine package and I got the upscale soda card $68 w/tip (gun soda, hot chocolate, n/a drinks, juice) good values for us. Our travel gave us a coupon for the Champagne breakfast for two on our balcony. It was really good and you got a ton of food, you better be hungry so plan it for mid-morning not 7:00am like we did. Islands and Shore Excursions: Tahiti, Papeete - we did Papenoo Valley & Waterfall by 4WD (nice scenic tour 8pp on the back of a jeep, we sat in a very cool and refreshing river midway through the tour, had pineapple juice break, lots of scenery, remember to bring mosquito spray!! Thanks Jonathan for helping us out. Huahine- Pearl Farm, Maeva Marae & Vanilla Plantation (another very scenic tour 8pp in the back of a jeep, especially enjoyed the Pearl Farm-short boat ride and detailed explanation of the black pearls; vanilla plantation was just a house alongside the road with vanilla plants and small store. Short stop at a temple. Raiatea- Tahaa Coral Gardens Drift Snorkel- Loved this tour, book early it sells out!- beautiful viewing and float down a small channel. I was nervous about going due to the reviews- our lady tour guide took me first in line with her and held my hand/arm and led me through the channel path, thanks to her she made the trip great for me. Some folks did brush up against the coral and got a few scrapes, but not too serious. It is very deceiving when you float over the coral. It looks REALLY close! Bora Bora- Aqua Safari Helmet Dive- Another awesome tour (DO IT) We took a small boat out to the dive site. They set the helmet on your shoulders and you step down the ladder to the bottom (approx. 12 ft) It is so great down there. They put bread in a net along side your helmet and the fish swim all around you really close, sometimes you can touch them. Beautiful viewing for about 30 minutes (plenty of time down there) Saw a large eel in the rocks, stingray to touch and many, many different fish. One lady on our tour was scared to go down and we kept on cheering her on and she finally went down and was so happy that she did and thanked us later back on the ship:) Bora Bora (2nd day) Island Drive, Anau Look Out & Bloody Mary's- A very nice scenic island drive. We got to see Pareo's being made (island clothing), fed crabs hibiscus flowers alongside the road, beautiful scenery, and a 20 minute stop at Bloody Mary's. We did have lunch at Bloody Mary's the previous day and while expensive, it was very good. A nice touristy stop. Rangaroa- We did not do a tour here, but I would suggest that you do, because there is nothing to do here otherwise. The public beach ($1 ride- 10 min, walking 45min) is not the best, not much sand, lots of rocks and coral. Wear good water shoes not flip flops and bring your own snorkel gear. No facilities of any kind here, rather run down. Some trips and tours were offered on the pier. Moorea- To me this was the most beautiful island of all. The landscape and scenery were amazing. Again did not plan a shore excursion (big mistake) we tried to get one on the pier, but we sat in the back of someone's jeep for 20 min while he waited for more guests. We got tired of waiting and got out. Ron Hall Pearl store van was there and a lady gave us a ride to their store to look at Pearls. A little bit of scenery and I did manage to get a beautiful black pearl necklace. Should have done an island tour would have been a lot cheaper, ha ha. This was our last day as we were getting off the ship one day early, as soon as it docked back in Papeete. Most passengers were getting off the next day. We docked in Papeete at 8:00pm and we had our luggage ready and we were waiting in the lobby for the ship to clear and we were on the pier by 8:30. We easily found a taxi to take us to the airport ($35+tip) evening rate, I guess. Got to the airport and waited in long, hot line to check-in for our 11:50pm flight. Another long flight back to LA. This plane was new and had TV screens in the back of the seat in front of us. Hard to sleep again, no room to move. Seating is 2-4-2 and we were in the 4 section this time. Got to LA, long walk to get to customs, picked up luggage, then had to go to different terminal (AA) to re-check our luggage for next flight to O'Hare. Had to run after we cleared security to make flight- we made it- luggage did not. Luggage finally showed up at our house 2 days later, but we did get it back, whew! All in all- this was an amazing trip on Princess' very unique small ship Pacific. I think I would try a small ship again, but I am still in favor of all the glitz, glamour and choices available with the larger cruise ships. But that is just me. We met a lot of great people, staff and guests, that I will remember for a long time to come. Next up is the 10-day Eastern Caribbean Voyager on February 27th of 2015. I can't wait to see their new, big beautiful ship. Enjoy every sailing! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
From start to finish, we had a ball. Everything went like clockwork thanks to the good offices of our TA and the good efforts of the Pacific Princess staff. I'll be brief, but we booked our own flight from LAX to Papeete on Air Tahiti ... Read More
From start to finish, we had a ball. Everything went like clockwork thanks to the good offices of our TA and the good efforts of the Pacific Princess staff. I'll be brief, but we booked our own flight from LAX to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui. Aside from the madhouse at LAX, all went well. The flight was more pleasant than on a previous Air New Zealand trip, partly because there were extendable head rests so this 6'5" traveler could actually get some sleep. We spent a night at the Intercontinental on Tahiti and were given an upgraded room because of a protracted wait for our regular room. Nice hotel, though we used few of the amenities. Check in on the Pacific the next day could not have been quicker or easier. Our BB cabin on the seventh deck was perfectly situated amid ship, 2 flights up the the buffet, 2 flights down to the dining room (you can see where my thoughts lie), making elevator usage generally unnecessary. The cabin itself was what we expected, adequate for our needs with a balcony. The bath was a bit tight and I don't know how heavy people can fit into the shower, but that's the way smaller cabins are, so we were not surprised. The bed was comfortable, the satellite TV reception was generally good, even in the middle of the Pacific, and to my joy, on this trip Fox News was available much of the time, a welcome change from the usual fare. The cabin service was outstanding, incidentally. DINING: The buffet food was what we expected, passable but not remarkable. In the evening tables are set up in the buffet for a bit more formal service with a set menu each night for those who want to escape the dining room clothes requirements or perhaps their boring table mates there. We used the facility 3 or 4 nights when we just didn't want to dress in more than shorts and a polo shirt. The buffet service is not open at night, incidentally. The breakfast buffet had an omelet station and in general provided pretty much standard breakfast fare, except that my favorite, corned beef hash, did not appear every day, a very minor complaint. A greater concern was the lack of table service at breakfast; most of the time, waiters did not provide coffee or juice and spent most of their efforts clearing tables. I found that annoying as I would have to leave my place in order to serve myself. The food in the main dining room at lunch and supper was almost always excellent. My main complaint with Princess food is its lack of proper spice. Jerk chicken has no flavor, Thai soups are lacking in spiciness, not hot spice, just tasty spices. That was the case on a few occasions on this trip, but in general, the food was tasty and in several cases, the curries were extremely well spiced. Thanks, chef. I've never liked Fetuccine Alfredo on Princess, so I didn't try that old standard, but the pasta carbonara prepared by the head waiters was in a word, lousy. Fortunately, their future attempts at pasta were better. But I am being negative here, as the food in general was outstanding. The head chef for Princess was on board for this whole trip, perhaps his presence made the difference, but I tend to doubt it. Incidentally, we did the Chef's Table which was very nice, but I would not recommend it on a small ship as the kitchen is simply too small and too cramped to allow the full experience larger ships permit. TOURS: I don't know what good it is to address tours on a specific cruise which will not be repeated on any other cruise, but briefly out of pure laziness we did arrange for ship's tours in Moorea and Bora Bora We got our money's worth. On Easter Island a nice highlight tour of 4 main sites was a bit spoiled by a guide who loved his own voice and prattled on about things not having to do with what we were seeing a the time. But that wasn't Princess' fault. We took a side excursion to Machu Picchu, expensive at $2400 each, but well worth the cost. Everything was first class except that Princess forgot to arrange for a sunny day at Machu Picchu itself. But I would highly recommend this excursion for anyone who has the opportunity. Other people went to the Galapagos or took a one day trip to Quito, a really expensive deal at $600 a person, which I doubt was worth the money. In Manta, Ecuador we went out on our own as we usually like to do, and for a total of $4 for a museum fee, we saw as much as those who paid $60 for an organized tour, as a free bus from the pier made a large circle through town, allowing a few stops here and there.. ENTERTAINMENT: Second rate, as is usually the case. I try to avoid the shows as much as possible, but as a concession to my DW attend now and again. The dancers get credit for exuberance, the comedians were funny only rarely, the singer, a female, had trouble staying on pitch. Perhaps I'm being a bit more negative than is deserved, but only a bit more. There was a pianist who was excellent, but he left the ship in Panama to my dismay. OTHER STUFF: The library was surprisingly well stocked; the exercise room was certainly adequate, especially considering the usage it got with the average age of the passengers being 100 :). The jogging track takes 13 turns to complete a mile and with the wind in my face, it was a bit of a challenge at times. Some women saw fit to remove their tops on the upper deck, 40 years too late, I'm afraid. We didn't try the alternative dining, but those who did said they were pleased. Disembarkation at Ft. Lauderdale was very smooth for us. We were Independents which meant Princess would off load our bags but we would walk off early and on our own. Walk offs who handled their own luggage disembarked even earlier. We left the ship at 7:35, found our bags, cleared customs, caught a cab and arrived at FLL at 8:15 or so, in time to catch our 8:50 flight, as we always have done. Do yourself a favor and hop a cab as it's only $15 to FLL from the ship, a lot less than the bus charge Princess gets. One last thing: my wife purchased an expensive piece of jewelry in Cusco and the receipt said it was at least 35% made in Peru. The US charged no duty on it because of that, a pretty nice deal that you might want to consider. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My wife and I cruised French Polynesia (aka Tahiti) on the Pacific Princess from 9 to 19 October 2009 for our 30th Anniversary. We loved Tahiti but did not enjoy the ship as much as other ships we'd been on (9 total cruises). But ... Read More
My wife and I cruised French Polynesia (aka Tahiti) on the Pacific Princess from 9 to 19 October 2009 for our 30th Anniversary. We loved Tahiti but did not enjoy the ship as much as other ships we'd been on (9 total cruises). But due to shallow waters and cost of getting to Tahiti, small ships are all that cruise there. We flew Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti, to catch the ship. The ATN counter at LAX international terminal opened 3 hours prior to the flight and everything went smoothly. Food on ATN in coach is somewhat poor, especially the dinner - breakfast was OK. I recommend you eat prior to boarding - note the restaurants at LAX international terminal are before the security lines, there is only a coffee shop once you pass thru security. We arrived in Tahiti at 4:30 AM - the bank at the airport is open 24/7, it's the best place to exchange dollars to French pacific francs. I recommend you bring enough cash for what you want to exchange - my ATM card did not work at any banks I tried in Tahiti. Also, the Pacific Princess did not have an ATM machine. Most merchants took credit cards - visa & master card - the street vendors took only cash. Some islands, like Bora Bora and Moorea, took dollars, but don't always count on it. We stayed overnight at the Intercontinental Hotel in Papeete in an overwater bungalow - very nice room worth the exorbitant cost. Going to Tahiti is expensive so you might as well enjoy it. I highly recommend planning 1-day stops in LA and Tahiti before getting on ATN and the ship. We ran into several couples on the ship that had to divert to Tokyo or Hawaii to make connections to Tahiti and either missed the ship in Papeete (so flew to Huahine to board) or did not have their luggage. We stayed overnight in LA & Papeete and had no problems. Boarding on the Pacific Princess at 11:30 AM on 9 October was fast, we never saw much of a line the first day. Passengers arrived up to 5 PM on 10 October when we sailed. Although we felt the ship was small and dated, with not too much to do, we both thought the crew were very friendly and helpful. Having cruised on the RCCL "mega ships" before, the Pacific Princess seemed tiny. It's OK for Tahiti where you have a lot of stops, but I'd think an overwater cruise would be very boring. Also the ship pitched and rolled a lot, even in gentle seas, so plan ahead if you are prone to sea sickness. We stayed in a mini-suite, the cabin was roomy. Only complaint was they "upgraded" us to a wheelchair accessible room (#8044) which had a large shower in the bathroom instead of a tub - it took up way too much space plus the water flow was poor. We tried to get back to our reserved mini-suite (#8002) but were told the ship was full and room assignments were made at Princess HQ, not by the ship. Food onboard was adequate, not that tasty, but plentiful. Dinners had gourmet titles that often tasted strange. Best meal was the lobster on the second of two formal nights. Buffet was open 24/7 so you could usually find something there, like pizza, if still hungry. Best food was the fresh pineapple but they ran out halfway thru the cruise (in Tahiti?) until near the end. Room service menu is very limited, only a few sandwiches. We did the continental breakfast on our balcony, which included some basic egg dishes, a few times to watch the ship sail into ports. We ate at Steakhouse ($15 per) and had great filet mignons, worth the cost as you can't get good beef in the main restaurant. One tip - we chose late dining at 8:15 - this was too late as dinner was slow so we didn't finish until after 10 PM. Early dining at 6:15 is better choice although you may miss some island viewing. The one pool was pitiful, barely a large tub. So we bought passes to the spa deck in front of the gym/spa. Although slightly expensive, it was worth it! Had a large jacuzzi and was limited to 16 people the entire cruise, but you have to buy the passes at spa within first day or 2. We spent most of our deck time there as it's also the best view out the front. Gym had old equipment - we were told it was due to be replaced this winter. Exercise classes were great - the instructor, Arlene, was fantastic. But limited in size so sign up the first day. My wife enjoyed some of the spa treatments as well. Shows in lounge (no theater on Pacific) were OK, singers/dancers not great, but we enjoyed the comedy acts. Not very crowded as most people tended to go to their rooms after dinner, mostly due to the tropical sun & heat of the day. IMPORTANT! Take a lot of sun tan lotion, SPF 50 or higher - we went thru 2 bottles. We saw many red bodies in the beginning as the sunshine is brutal near the equator. We had great weather which was a mixed blessing as some days we hoped there would be clouds to keep sun off. Also take bug spray if you go inland as flies and mosquitoes abound away from the shoreline. Islands were fantastic and got better at each stop. Main island, Tahiti, is very crowded so we just took a ½ day trip sightseeing. We used Carl Emery for our tour, he speaks English and is very knowledgeable about the island - check out his website. Papeete is OK to shop before ship sails but I recommend you just browse and check prices, then look for better deals during the cruise. You are back in Papeete at end of the cruise so you can always make the last purchases there. First stop, Huahine, is OK. Pretty at first, but paled in comparison to later islands. We took bus to the small town and walked to the beach. I recommend you bring your own mask & snorkel and take them with you onshore wherever you go as there are always places to swim. Sea day to sail to Rangiroa, which is on east side of Polynesia. Rangiroa has best scuba diving, also good snorkeling & glass bottom boating. We did a drift dive along a gorgeous reef, most colorful fish I've seen! Saw one gray shark and many small barracuda. Sea day to sail back to Raiatea. Raiatea was only place we docked besides Papeete, rest was tenders which were pretty efficient. We did the pearl farm/snorkel and enjoyed it, the pearl farm is interesting and you snorkel right off the overwater farm so you can see their oyster beds plus the reef. Wife bought some Tahitian dark pearls there since they are authentic although pearl prices are pretty consistent throughout Polynesia. We also hiked up the 1,000 ft hill behind the ship to get a great view of Tahaa & Bora Bora - take water if you do as it's a hot hike. Good Polynesian dance show on ship that evening and a dessert/fruit buffet. Bora Bora was fantastic. We stayed 2 days and enjoyed both. Scuba dove the first day, reef was good but not as colorful as Rangiroa, but saw several 9 ft lemon sharks and many 4-5 ft black tip sharks. They are fed by local scuba divers so are docile and looking for hand outs (but I kept my hands in). Good shopping in Bora Bora - finally found some T-shirts and other tourist junk. Tahitians don't go in for tourist junk like they do in Caribbean so you have to hunt to find what you want. Also they are very friendly and not pushy. Second day we went wave runnering (aka jet ski) thru the local tour vendors by the pier. Went totally around Bora Bora in 2 hours, saw all the fancy resorts as well as the mountain from all sides - expensive but worth it. Had lunch at Bloody Mary's restaurant about 2 miles from the pier - apparently a well-known tourist stop, especially for Americans. Last island was the best, Moorea. Very beautiful, amazing mountains, not too crowded. We did a catamaran/snorkel trip, it was OK. Heard scuba diving was good also. But best tour was the whale watching as they found a pod of whales and were allowed to snorkel with them... so take your mask & snorkel if you do it. Good shopping there also. Only 3 hours from there to Papeete, we were docked by 8 PM on 18 October. As most of us had late flights on ATN the next evening, we did not have to leave the ship until 6 PM on 19 October. You have all-day in Papeete to finish shopping and take any last excursions. Princess was very gracious to let us stay on the ship using all facilities as the new passengers were arriving. We had to leave our cabin by 8 AM but gym/spa has good changing room with lockers and showers, so we swam & sunbathed most of the day. I recommend taking Princess transfer to airport as otherwise they want you off the ship by 3:30 PM. The lines to check-in, immigration, and security for ATN were slow but we got thru in 1 hour total. They provide carts for your luggage. Once inside terminal, the waiting room is great - comfortable couches and a small restaurant. I recommend you keep 2,000 francs (about $25) for last-minute snacks & drinks there. ATN flight back was OK - poor dinner and better breakfast. Tight seating in coach. I recommend going first or business if you can afford it - we will if we do it again. Once back in LA, it was nice to hear announcements only in English as everything on ATN and ship was repeated in French, Tahitian, sometimes Spanish, and English. To summarize, Tahiti was fantastic - expensive but a once-in-a-life trip for most. Ship was not great but it was OK. Crew was great and tried hard to please, given the small older ship. I think we're spoiled by the larger RCCL ships like Voyager & Independence but their destinations are limited. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
The first two times in teh South Pacific, we were on the Tahitian Princess and the one port outside of the Society Islands was Rarotonga. After a day at sea to get there, and back, it was a big disappointment that water conditions ... Read More
The first two times in teh South Pacific, we were on the Tahitian Princess and the one port outside of the Society Islands was Rarotonga. After a day at sea to get there, and back, it was a big disappointment that water conditions didn't allow us to disembark. Now Princess goes to Rangiroa in the Touamotu chain for the stop outside the Society islands. It was a great move on their part. What a magical destination! It's just too bad that they have cut back their year round sailing to just a couple months late in the year. We add land time before because of the long flight and the possibility of delays, which has worked in our favor each time. Embarkation has gone very quick and easy every time and the Princess embarkation staff gets very high marks for helpful and friendly service. Our cabin has always been ready on arrival. Onboard, most staff is great, but they are pushing a lot of sales; the soda club, the coffee club, etc. That fades after day 1. During the cruise they offer a couple wine tasting events that are VERY nice and a dinner with the chef that puts you in the kitchen during the rush hour and then eating with the chef. A great opportunity for those intrigued by food prep. We had the early dinner, which has pros and cons. You need to rush a bit after the days activity, but you can see the sunset or fading island from the window if your lucky enough to have a table with a view. The early seating gives time to digest while watching a show or star gazing, hit the buffet for a light bedtime snack and relax in your cabin with plenty of time to get enough sleep to be out on the balcony to watch the ship pass through the barrier reef of the island of the day. We have coffee, juice, crosiants and yogurt delivered to our balcony around 7 every morning. It's magical. We prefer the poolside grill for lunch and the dining room for dinner. This time, the dining room was especially enjoyed. In past cruises we never even knew who the head waiter was, but this trip our head waiter took the time to stop at our table every night and share options and light conversation. Our waiter and jr waiter were a married couple and were great fun. Disembarkation is early, 8am. They offer storage for carry on luggage and allow you to stay on the ship all day with full access to everything but a cabin. It's very gracious since the flight don't leave until 10pm and 11:30pm. The airport checkin moves very slow, a couple elderly folks in line were close to passing out. Bring water and a hand fan, you will need it. If you can stay a few days extra, it's a great extension to the relaxation and magic of the area and a good way to miss the huge crowd at the airport. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We flew from Denver to Los Angeles a day early because of a winter storm predicted for Denver the next day - and it arrived. Got to LAX early and to wait all day for our midnight flight to Papeete. COuld not check luggage until much later ... Read More
We flew from Denver to Los Angeles a day early because of a winter storm predicted for Denver the next day - and it arrived. Got to LAX early and to wait all day for our midnight flight to Papeete. COuld not check luggage until much later in the day, so our vacation began with wearing us out. The flight from LA to Papeete was gruesome in coach - our last internation flight in coach. We had a transfer to the port, which got us there about 5:30 AM. We could not board until near noon. It was hot and humid in Papeete. We walked around, some, and got some water, and napped on a park bench. It was wonderful to finally board the Pacific Princess and air conditioning! We had an overnight in Papeete, so explored the ship and relaxed. The next day we walked around Papeete. Very interresting city and it was fun to see new things. We got back to the ship just before the afternoon rain and we glad that we decided to go back to the ship. Set sail and were accompanies by local in outriggers to the breakwater - neat. Our first port was Huahine. Beautiful entry into port, with local housing along the coast. Tendered port. We elected to do an isloand tour, stopping at religous sites. We got a great view of our ship in the lagoon, from an overlook. Very cool island. We were at sea for a day, on our way to Raiatea - one of the largest atolls in the world. Another tendered port. We did a glass bottom boat excursion and the fish were beautiful. Even saw sharks. You marvel at how an atoll can exist after Pacific storms, as it's not very high above sea level. Another sea day on our way to Bora Bora. Check another goal off the bucket list! Tendered to shore. Saw Tahatian fabric being dyed, land crabs, Bloody Mary's, and just lots of lovely island flowers. Met new friends from Canada and ate most breakfast, lunch and dinners with them in the buffet, as we had one table guest none of us could stand. Our dolphin swim was cancelled, which we were really looking forward to doing. The next port was Raiatea, where we could dock. Did another island excursion - the best way to get a feel for a new place for us. Got back to the ship in time to watch a show put on by local dancers. Bought my bride a flower hair round - beautiful. Bought one ofr our Canadian friend,too. Moorea was the next port and another tender ride. Our island tour stopped for a photo shoot of "Bali Hai". Reminded us of the musical South Pacific, as it should! Stopped at a local house for a break and some local fruit served on palm leaves - delicious. Saw some beautiful countryside and flowers everwhere. Back to Papeete and a 2 night stay in a bungalow over the lagoon. Lots of snorkling and fish. We had sea urchins under our dock, which would leave every evening to search for food and return every morning to sleep under the dock. We also had 3 eels under the dock, and it was fun watching them come and go. Lunch and breakfast on our dock was really nice, although we did have to feed the local birds to keep them quiet. The Intercontiental had a large walt water pool, filled with fish. It was fun to snorkel with them and feed them morning hard rolls. The hotel's Polynesian Show lacked. We almost missed it, as the time was misunderstood by us, and by the time we got there for dinner, there wan't much left and we had seats clear in the back. Before we knew it, it was time to fly home. I had always dreamed of going to French Polynesia and everyhting lived up to my dreams! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
The New Pacific Princess From French Polynesia to Australia November 2003 The new Pacific Princess was formerly the Renaissance R 3. We really enjoyed cruising with Renaissance a few years ago on a sister ship to the R 3, the R 6. ... Read More
The New Pacific Princess From French Polynesia to Australia November 2003 The new Pacific Princess was formerly the Renaissance R 3. We really enjoyed cruising with Renaissance a few years ago on a sister ship to the R 3, the R 6. Princess has made a good ship even better with their renovations to the former R ships. This was our 7th cruise with Princess. This was also our greatest Princess cruise to date. We felt like we were cruising with Seabourn or Crystal, both high price luxury lines. The service was absolutely superb! The accommodations were great. Each cabin category offered spacious staterooms or suites as compared with other Princess ships or ships of other lines. This is a small ship by today's standards with only 670 passengers yet it has most of the comforts of the larger ships with none of the disadvantages. We became acquainted with lots of the passengers during this 16-day cruise. The passengers were an international mix with lots of Australians, Kiwis, Brits, Canadians, Europeans, and a lovely group of native Hawaiians who serenaded themselves and us during sea days in the Casino Bar with melodies from the Islands. Lots of additional details about the ship, deck plans, etc. can be seen on the Princess web site. We were always met with a friendly greeting by the staff and crew. The only exception I noted was the Captain. He seemed to dread being around or talking with the passengers. Otherwise, the atmosphere was similar to an exclusive resort. The staff really seemed to enjoy their jobs and took pleasure in pleasing the guests. Add to that the idyllic setting of our ports, and this was certainly a dream cruise. The weather was great most of the time too. Sunsets were spectacular and the seas were mostly calm. Operation of this ship is shared with the partner company of Princess, P & O Cruises. At the end of this journey, P & O will operate the ship [with largely the same staff and crew] mainly to the Australian cruise market until Spring 2004 when operation will again revert back to Princess for the summer and early fall. The entertainment on this ship was fabulous. All of the Cruise Staff and Entertainers are from New Zealand or Australia. The cast presented 5 full shows and the lead singers shared two additional shows with other entertainers. One of the featured entertainers was Byrle Davis, a name I really don't remember. She began her career singing with the Glen Miller Orchestra in World War II. Obviously she is no spring chicken but she was nevertheless fascinating. Ms. Davis sang with old-time greats including Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, and others. She was featured on the old TV shows, Bob Hope Comedy Hour and Your Hit Parade. That was way back in the days of live broadcasts in black and white viewed on a 12" or 14" TV screen. She related interesting antidotes about these famous stars between some of her numbers. The ship offered some enrichment lectures, had computer classes, Internet access 24/7, conducted bingo games, and did lots of other activities associated with cruising. The Lotus Spa and Fitness Center were both well equipped and well attended. The library is spacious, nicely appointed, and well stocked with reading materials. The bars and lounges are also nicely appointed and the top-deck nightclub was a place for the late-night partygoers to revel and for great views of the sea during the days. Princess advertises "Personal Choice" dining with open seating at the various dining venues. That wasn't the case on this small ship. Only the traditional main and late dinner seating was offered in the dining room. Two alternate restaurants were offered; The Sterling Steak House Grill [$8 cover charge per person] and Sabatini's, an Italian gourmet restaurant [$20 cover charge per person]. We found the beef entrEes in The Grill to be delicious. Sabatini's was open only on certain evenings but not many passengers felt the menu warranted spending the extra $20. Your $20 got you an elegant and very leisurely seven-course meal. The Panorama Buffet offered something to eat from 4 am to 12:30 am and room service was available 24/7. No one suffered from hunger for good food on this ship. We noted some changes in the dining room since previous cruises. There is no longer a sommelier or wine steward. The waiter now serves this function. Princess used to offer a separate pasta course. You can still have pasta nightly as an entrEe but no separate course. Tureens with hot vegetables are no longer offered either. Some evenings we ordered more vegetables and received a nice variety. A tray with dessert samples is no longer brought to the table after the entrEe for viewing. Salad selections in the luncheon buffet were not as varied as in the past. These changes have enabled Princess to serve more people with less wait staff. Fortunately the quality of the food and presentation remains great. The pastries on this cruise were especially nice and the home made [on board daily] ice cream was delicious. The casino offered penny and nickel slots as well as the traditional twenty-five cent and dollar slots. It appeared that the odds on the cheap slots were dismal. All of the slot machines were the same type. One could bet up to 20 lines per spin. Video poker was not offered. The tables of black jack, poker, and roulette seemed crowded together, especially when well attended. The dress code for this entire cruise was 'smart casual' except for three evenings when formal wear was optional. Lots of the women wore fancy outfits on those evenings but most gentlemen stuck to the 'smart casual' with a jacket. A few passengers decided not to dress up at all. Gratuities are now added to one's shipboard account, $10 per day. I was concerned that this method might result in less attentive service but the opposite was true. I guess the staff felt more confident of not getting slighted with this method than the old way of the passengers handing out envelopes at the end of the cruise. The service in all departments was really super. The Cruise Director, John Clelford, encouraged additional gratuities for 'exceptional' service. That seemed a bit tacky. The official policy for 'additional' gratuities is that the recipient may retain the 'extra' gratuity if the passenger did not reduce the standard gratuity charged to the shipboard account. Otherwise the 'extra' gratuity was to be submitted to the pool. A negative aspect of the Princess departures from Papeete, Tahiti is that getting to Papeete independently by air is expensive and infrequent. The Princess air program offers non-stop charter service from Los Angles. This system is unpleasant because each passenger must move their baggage from connecting flights to the charter departure gate that is at the far end of one of the LAX terminals. The charter gate opens only three hours before flight time so there are long lines and the entire check-in and security check process to be endured again. Then one gets the typical feeling of being a sardine once aboard the aircraft. Maybe that is why the ship cabins/staterooms seem so spacious. Nevertheless, in summary, the new Pacific Princess offers luxurious cruising at main line prices. The atmosphere is refined and relaxed. The food is tasty, the entertainment and shipboard activities are plentiful and varied for a ship of such small size, the staff is always cordial and attentive, and this itinerary offered a great chance to see the South Pacific, a bit of New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia. We traveled 4,459 nautical miles during the cruise and visited 9 ports in 5 countries. If you wish to cruise on the Pacific Princess before April 2004, you must book your cruise through P & O, the partner company to Princess. I believe that Princess is offering a similar itinerary on the Pacific Princess in 2004. The French Polynesia ports are offered almost year-round on the sister Princess ship, the Tahitian Princess, which does 10-day itineraries from/to Papeete, Tahiti. Bruce Baldwin November 2003 bbaldwintyler@homail.com Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
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