10 days on board the Tahitian Princess : Tahiti, Moorea, Rarotonga, Huahine, Tahaa and Bora Bora.
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- sailing of April 7, 2004 -
We had travelled completely to the other side of the planet to join this cruise. There has never been a dull moment during the 10 days on board this magnificent vessel and actually we regretted that we did'nt booked a back to back cruise which would not only have been 21 fun days on board the Tahitian Princess but also saved us heaps of $$$ as well.
We've been flying to Rarotonga and further to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands at an extra flight fare of app. 800usd (incl. Papeete-Moorea-Papeete) + 4 nights in the Moorea Beachcomber overwater bungalow which has costs us 750 USD per person again. That is WITHOUT any meal while on the ship all the food is inclusive. Add all the meals + the accomodation in the Cook Islands (6 nights) and we far exceed over the 10-day cruise fare in an outside cabin . 1 simple breakfast at the Beachcomber in Moorea digs a 30$ (per person) hole in our budget already.
Compare this to the wealth of food, taking outside on deck the cruise ship with magnificent views of Opunohu Bay and the choice is easily made.
The ship's food is great and full of variation. I bought myself a 25 USD soft drink sticker to put on my Princess credit card which is your electronic cabin key at the same time. 25 USD for unlimited soft drinks during the entire cruise + a free Coca Cola cooling bottle is a good deal if you drink an average of 3 soda's a day or more. However, you'll have fountain soft drinks, no cans.
Alternatively to the dining room, for an additional fee of 15 usd, you can dine at The Steakhouse. We did'nt visit it, so I can't justice the place but according our tablemates, it is worth the 15$. Also available for an additional 20$ is La Trattoria Sabatini's of which we had diner one time. All I can say about this restaurant is: Include at least one night diner there! The food is absolutely fabolous. I bet that you can't finish everything. The atmosphere at Sabatini's is great too. No rushes or noise in comparison to the dining room where waiters and busboys have to rush to serve all on time. This makes a great place for a special occasion. Quiet, intimate and very personal.
I was a nightly visitor to the Tahitian Lounge which is far from busy. Usually it operates as a disco from about 11.00pm till 2.00am. As I experienced on other ships, also here, 50% of the disco-visitors are officers or cruise staff who are after some adventure with single female passengers. I saw officers 60+ of age dancing like teenagers -an awful sight- but funny. The nightly shows are held at the Cabaret Lounge. 4 shows were done by the Tahitian Singers and dancers. It is great to see a show but don't waste your time to the three others unless you're bored. In my opinion the three other shows by the Tahitian dancers and singers are quite similar but has different costumes and songs.
I repeat: That is just my opinion.
Other shows includes music and laughter with comedian Bayne Bacon or Greg Moreland.
Spice, the duo performing Caribbean music at pooldeck was great. I don't understand why they played just one hour at a time. In the Princess Patter, a sort of daily newspaper which shows the activities and shows of the day, was announced that they perform during sail away between 5.00 and 6.00pm. They started playing at 5.30 one time. I think a sail away party at poolside could have much more fun, thus more consumers if this great duo would perform from 4.00 - 6.00pm.
While in Raiatea, don't miss the Children of Raiatea show on board the ship. They performed at 5.15pm while at the same time Princess Cruises has the "great idea" to offer excursions at 56$ for a similar Polynesian show ashore. That is another thing I could'nt understand. The same night at 10.15pm a great Polynesian show performed by local dancers and musicians was programmed Poolside, followed by a champagne waterfall. Unfortunately just minutes before they should start, the rain poored down from the sky, making it impossible to be done outside.
The whole organization has to be moved quickly to the Tahitian Lounge which is too small to accomodate the audience. Pity.
If Princess Cruises would organize more outdoor festivities under the Polynesian stars, could be so much more fun than the empty disco. The nights are warm and tropical here and offer great oppertunities for pooldeck parties "Caribbean style". I understand that some passengers want to sleep early and the noise could be a problem, but untill midnight should be ok I would think.
The Casino Bar seems to be a good place to meet new friends or just to relax with a cocktail, listening to the voice of Sheila Taylor performing on piano.
The ship is truly beautifully decorated throughout with a unique well-stocked library, a Titanic-a-like staircase where you can have your formal picture taken. Although 20 dollar for a picture is'nt really cheap, I have to say that the 3 photographers did a great job. We had 5 underwater cameras of which 1 of them was developed in Rarotonga and 4 at the ship's Photo Gallery. I don't know if it is coincidence but the 4 disposal cameras developed on board came out much better. The Photo Gallery is well equiped and has all types of digital memory cards for sale plus some more essentials. You can have your pictures being digitalized and put on CD-rom.
During this fantastic voyage we had met a number of nice people from different corners in the world. Cruise Critic members for example: Kathy and Bob from Canada, you have been very kind and fun to travel with. Thank you for the group picture! Lani and Henry from Hawaii, Dan and Julie, Dough and Nadine, Brice and family, ... All of you were super to travel with. We had a fantastic table of eight. A international bunch of fun people from San Jose, CA and Robert and his wife from United Kingdom. We truly enjoyed your company.
Would I do this cruise again ? Yes, but twice !
Princess Cruises offered transport from the pier in Papeete to Faaa airport for 25$ per person. Don't do it. There are taxis available day and night right at the ship's pier. We paid a trip to airport 25 usd for the taxi ( the two of us ) at midnight. On our way to the ship at the beginning of the cruise, we had the same driver (coincidence) bringing us from the airport to the ship for just 15$ but that was daytime. The taxi is actually a van and can hold about 8 passengers, which means that for 3 dollar a head you can do the ride at night (sharing 8).
Arriving back in the hectic world of our western lifestyle in Los Angeles was like a cold shower. We had a 3-night stopover in L.A., and decided to stay at Venice Beach. The first thing we did on arrival was buying a sweater for each of us. I had been here before at the very same place back in 92. That was in july. Ladies were roller skating in their bikinis showing their beautiful bodyparts. Now in april, the boardwalk was windy and ladies wore sweaters.
Anyway we did a great city tour of LA the other day while our last day was spent at Universal Studios Hollywood.
What a trip! Now we're back in Belgium...loaded with lifetime memories, stocked with about 700 pictures and 90 minutes of video, life is set again to western style, duties and climate.
Paradise really exists. We have seen it, however way too short.....
We booked the entire trip, flights, hotels, excursions and cruise through the internet without meeting a single person visually. Everything went perfect and would do it the same way immediately again next time. Previous to the bookings, I had literally viewed thousands of webpages, read forums at Cruise Critic, Tahiti Explorer, Lonely Planet and a number of other sources. These sites are a huge source of great information. Their forums are the best and highly recommended if you are considering to go to a similar trip.
Of course you can contact me by e-mail if you like to know something additional.
Thank you very much for reading this report.
I'm planning on my next trip....