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Forgot to mention that the seabands were quite helpful on the sea days. This ship does rock 'n roll a bit.
Raitea/Tahaa: Arrived and met Bruno for his tour with a lot of the CC friends by the Shell gas station. Overall the tour is fun, but thought there was a bit too much time at the pearl farm, especially as most of the men were bored while the women bought pearls. That being said, did find a nice pearl here. Vanilla farm, lunch and lagoonarium were all OK. Then the drift snorkel.
Agree completely with other people here who have written to say Bruno doesn't explain things very well prior to the drift. Some tips he gave the people in front but not the rest of us who were lagging a bit behind: DRIFT and FLOAT, try not to fight the current. It is VERY shallow in places and you are drifting right over coral and sea urchins. I got a fairly good coral cut on the arm right when we got in as the current starting taking me in a wrong direction. Try to keep your eye on Bruno and go where he goes; the only instruction we got was "in 100 meters turn left" but there was much more zigging and zagging he did. Wear booties and gloves here. We were also glad we had the rash guards here too. The snorkeling was very good, lots of good fish and fairly good coral. FP does not have really good coral in the shallow areas due to the El Nino that hit 5 years ago and killed much of the coral. But the fish are spectacular and water is very clear in most locations.
After heading back to the ship, stopped by the doctor's office to check on treatment for the coral cut. She said basically wash with soap and water every day and keep it dry. After it started healing I put neosporin on it and that helped.
Overall impression was OK for the Bruno excursion, but I think next time would like to see more of Raitea itself; it's a big island. Probably would do a 4X4 here or a combo 4X4/snorkel.
Bora Bora: As a surprise for my husband, I had booked a 17 foot Boston Whaler with guide to take us snorkeling and around the entire lagoon for 3-4 hours. This was with Moana Tours which has a link from the Tahiti Tourisme or Tahiti Travel sites. They were FANTASTIC. They picked us up right there at the dock right at the time and location they said they'd be. When we first headed out a rain squall came through and it was too rough in the first part for me to snorkel so I visited with the guide while my hubby was in the water. Then the squall passed and we headed to another snorkel spot which was FANTASTIC. The fish were used to being fed here as they came right up to us, the water was crystal clear and it was just spectacular. Note: we took only 2 underwater cameras, and the ship sold out of its underwater cameras quickly--take more. You'll want them! Then we went to one of the motus and just swam, then all the way around the lagoon stopping at spots here and there. We had scheduled the ray snorkel trip through Princess the next day and had told Moana I didn't want to go anywhere that the Princess tour was going and we didn't. It was fantastic and I can't recommend it highly enough; definitely one of the best things we did on the trip. Guy that owns it is Frank and they respond to email quickly. They have a website and coupons for discounts. They were great. The 17 foot takes 4 people, and the 21 foot 6 people so you could do this with others too.
We had scheduled the Taravana sunset with our CC friends and finished this Moana tour at 4, so rushed back to the ship, rinsed off and tossed on some other clothes and then raced off to catch the tender back over. Made it about 5:15 and then we did the sunset cruise for 2 hours. Was nice and peaceful.
Next day did the Princess tour Ray ballet and snorkel, both of which were fine.
Moorea/TP day: We ended up renting a car here and driving around the island since we were going to be here for 4 days after the cruise. The island is beautiful. We have decided we liked Huahine the best for overall South Pacific ambience, Bora Bora for the lagoon and being in the water, and Moorea for its geography. It's really breathtaking. Couldn't do the normal 15 minute hike to the waterfall because the rains had washed out a good portion of the road and it now takes 1.5 hours to make it to the waterfall.
Found a nice place to eat during our drive which was the Sunset restaurant at the Hibiscus Hotel near the Petite Village. You need to walk through the fares at the hotel to get to it, but it's right on the beach and relatively cheap. We also bought baguettes here at the grocery store, wine, cheese, and bottled water. Bread is price fixed at 43 cents; one of the only true bargains in all of FP.
Part 3 will come with disembarking, ferry to Moorea, a big favor done for us by Albert Transport, Moorea Beachcomber, etc.
Hi Chrissy C, We will be on PG soon, just wondering if there are people hanging around the docks to take you on independent excursions? (The ship is a little pricey) We went last Sept. but really didn't do anything exciting. Thanks, Halo
Yes there are usually people hanging out at the dock; however, I'd make plans for certain things you may want to do in advance. Thanks to the power of the Internet, many of these can be booked in advance. Wish I was going back soon!
Hi Chrissy! We'll be on the Tahitian Princess beginning June 3rd. My husband is one of those people who gets very uneasy about booking excursions through anyone but the cruise line. We tried this once, in Ocho Rios. Booked (and bought tickets) to a tour of the rain forest and Dunn's River Falls. Our guide never showed up (we did get a refund after we returned home.) We picked up one of the so-called tour guides who hung around the docks. Although his tour was fine, it made my husband shy away from booking any other excursions outside of the cruise line. (Once bitten, twice shy.)
I, on the other hand, lilke to save money! We definitely want to do some snorkelling and MUST swim with the rays. I've only seen Part 2 of your well-written review, but can you tell me briefly, which company I can depend on for any excursions not booked via Princess? Thanks!!!!
Your review was wonderful. It had great information. We are going in July and are very concerned about the drift snorkeling. We have two strong swimmers and two not so strong. If you have a good snorkel vest that you can inflate to make yourself more buoyant, do you need somthing to cover your legs, so as not to get cut up? I know we need gloves and booties. That doesn't seem to be a problem to find. On the other hand I can't seem to find rash guard outfits. Just the shirts. Any suggestions?
Chrissy, great review. I have been on this cruise twice already and going again next March. Always interesting to compare experiences. My husband loved the Bora Bora sunset cruise and we will do it again as well as Bruno. I came away with a gash on the side of my knee, but I wouldn't miss it again for anything. This time I will bring gloves and probably knee guards. We also stayed at the IBC and really liked it. Looking forward to reading the rest of your review.
We were on the 3-13-05 sailing of the TP. IMHO, the absolute best value we spent was with Stephane who was at the dock in Moorea (we made sure we were on one of the first few tenders). For $35Us or $55 US including lunch (which was OK), we had a blast. They drove us to the Hotel Bali Hi where we caught the boat (Albert tours also left from the Bali Hi and had the same trip as we did). Yes, they packed alot of people on the boat, but in the end it really didn't bother us as we just had way too much fun. We went to do the shark feeding thing for about 45 minutes. Then on to play with the stingrays for another 45 minutes or so. Then on to a picturesque motu. The snorkeling was very good there. There were stingrays who would come right up to the waters edge and play with you. We had an awesome time and did not want to leave. They had a boat to take people back directly to the TP tender area at 1:30, then the last one that left at 2:30.
Like I said the food was OK, but especially for $35, everyone that was on it from the ship with us, couldn't stop talking about how it was the best deal of the cruise. I would take that tour again in a heartbeat. Have a great time!
the drift snorkel is very exciting. we have done it on each of our trips with West Coast Charters, inside the visitor's center. we have friends who did it when the water was gentle and said it was really nice. first time we went, the current was really strong, i didn't even do it and some who did got cut up pretty bad. second trip down, I did do it , it is beautiful but it was pretty intense. again the current was pretty strong. my husband went up and did a second run. just be sure to keep your eye on the guide and FOLLOW him. I didn't get a single scratch. be sure to wear diving gloves and you need fins. You also need to be a pretty strong swimmer if the current is strong.
Tahitian Princess 01/03
Tahitian Princess 01/05
Tahitian Princess 01/08
Sorry for the delay; let me try to answer some questions and I'll also try to post the remainder of the review soon.
1. On booking independent tours: You can completely trust Marc, Bruno and the Moana Tour people. I would strongly recommend Marc's in Huahine and Moana Tours in Bora Bora. Those were the best two we had and they are used to dealing with folks from the ship. Also Taravana sunset sail in BB. Bruno's was fun and you can trust him too. Patrick on Tahiti was not great for us as I said since we got stuck in a gas line for 45 minutes and missed much of the tour and he didn't refund any portion of the money. Next time on Tahiti I'd rent a car and drive the outer part of the island directly.
2. The drift snorkel with Bruno was a bit technical. Take the gloves! And booties, not fins. A snorkel vest may almost make you more vulnerable; not sure, you have to float and do some turning in the current. We got the rash guards shirts on the Internet; just Google it and you should find links to surf shops. We got ours through a surf shop that sells on the Internet; sorry I can't recall who. But they were great; we wore them on all snorkels as they protect from the sun too. All that being said you stand a good chance of getting cut up. Bring some antiseptic to put on the cuts when you get out of the water. Then keep them clean and dry and start putting neosporin on AFTER they start healing. You want them to dry up and scab quickly.
3. Again, have to support Moana Tours on BB here; the snorkeling we did with them was fantastic and the trip around the lagoon was great. Also Marc in Huahine.
Will try to post the rest of the review soon. Watch this space. Any more questions, I'll try to get to more quickly.