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Advice from veteran FP Cruisers needed


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We're going to FP for the first time this June - it seems like a dream come true. We want to make the most of our time and money; I'm hoping you CC'rs can help me. I'm very gun-shy about booking excursions through independent operators, as we have gotten "burned" in Jamaica. Now, my husband is VERY suspicious of any tour guides not endorsed or who do not work in conjunction with Princess. I've heard so many great things about Moana Tours (is that Albert?), so we're gonna throw caution to the wind and book their Shark and Ray Snorkle Safari in BB. We've decided that we'll take the Princess excursions in Huahine (either the Lagood Motu Picnic or the Circle Island Tour) and in Raiatea (the 4WD Tour). In Raratonga, we've decided to just grab a cab or Le Truck to Muri Beach as we LOVE to snorkle. We're still up in the air about Moorea. I heard that Stephane does a good Dolphin Swim, but I'm not really sure. I hear that he jams his passengers in like sardines. Not good. Any suggestions? I hear there's not that much to do in Tahiti, so we'll probably ferry over to Moorea. Our regular stop in Moorea is on a Sunday, so I don't want to book any independents for that stop. I hear everything closes on Sunday. Can anyone PLEASE advise us as to how we should spend our time in Moorea, Papeete and BB? How much does the ferry cost to go from Papeete to Moorea? How reliable are these independents? (I will not go with Patrick as I read that he tends NOT to show up.) I found some very good prices for excursions via Travel Universal website (Doplhin Swim for $88), but I won't consider any independents that get a thumbs down from CC'rs. Please help. We're leaving SOON! Thanks so much.

Joyce

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Hi Joyce! For your Sunday in Moorea may I suggest the Dolphin Watch tour with Dr. Michael Poole? He runs his excursions Sunday's and Thursdays (at least when we were on our land vacation there) and it's a wonderful tour. there is a 95% chance you'll see dolphins because a population of spinner dolphins spends all of it's time somewhere around the island's waters. Dr. Poole is an american who works for a French university doing research in Moorea. He lives there now, and is a very nice guy. He runs an informative tour. After you see the dolohins you get a chance to swim and snorkel. We thoroughly enjoyed this excursion, thought it was worth the $ and then some, and would do it again in a heartbeat. (In fact, we did it twice because the first time we didn't see dolphins. We invited us back for free on his next tour because of that). Also, after hearing his talk about the local dolphins, and dolphins in the local marine ecosystems, I would be very hesitant about going on a paid dolphin swim excursion. The dolphins you will swim with are not native. Hopefully this helps! It was our favorite excursion in Moorea. Dr. Poole is extremely reputable and I wouldn't miss his tour if you can. :D

 

As for the ferry, it was a few years ago but I swear we paid something like $15-20/pp for a round trip ticket. The ferry we took was a half hour trip and it was quite lovely. Cabs are VERY expensive on Moorea, so consider arranging transfers from the ferry dock, or renting a car. We took the bus and it was quite a fun experience but I don't know if I would recommend that for a cruise vacation.

 

Other fun things to do in Moorea: the 4X4 tour really isn't too 4X4 intensive, it's a great way to see the island since it's so much larger, you get to stop at the rum distillery (YUM! Try the Tahiti Drink), overall a nice time and some great photo ops. Another option that we enjoyed as renting a car and exploring the island for a day. We had already takes the 4X4 tour so we knew where to go to hike to the waterfalls and other places we wanted to see. It was a nice, on our own sort of day. And since Moorea is so big compared to other islands, it was a great way to go.

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Hi Joyce,

 

I just bumped my review of the TP up to the top in case you didn't read it - we were on the 3-13-05 sailing and had an awesome time doing EVERYTHING on our own. I posted a better review under the reviews section, but they have not posted it yet. If you get a chance read what I wrote on it about Roratonga, we were not that impressed with Muri beach and continued on the local bus (they have a very good bus system on Rarotonga) to the other side where we found great snorkeling and gorgeous waters - we should have just gone there first as a local had tried to tell us on the bus that the snorkeling was not that good at Muri beach. Also take a look at what we did in Tahiti on our last day getting to the black sand beach on the bus.

 

OK, first of all, I am looking at my credit card statement and we were charged with conversion $41.32 US for our round-trip tickets to Moorea from Papeete. The day we took the ferry over to Moorea we took LeTruck over to the Sheraton and had a fun day. Moorea was one of our favorite islands and we were happy that we spent an extra day there.

 

Stephane - I think that name is also getting confusing with possibly different operators with the same name, I think it is the same person though as he had asked us if we had gotten his flyer on BoraBora. When we got off the tender in Moorea we found "Stephane" and signed up for his snorkle/motu picnic tour for $55 dollars (it's $35 not including lunch). The BEST deal of the cruise (others felt the same way). He took us over to the hotel Bali Hi where we caught our boat. Albert tours left from there also and did the same EXACT things as us (as a matter of fact half-way through our tour we hooked up with the Albert Tour boat as there were several people on our boat by mistake that should have been on theirs). Both operators did pack them in on the boat (same size boats) and it started off bothering us - but it ended up being so much fun and such a VALUE that we did not care. Both boats went over to the shark feeding (you could also just snorkel away from the shark line and see great snorkeling). Then both boats went over to the play with the stingrays. Both boats then went over to the Motu area and were parked side by side. At the Motu - which is very picturesque, no one has tables in the water they all have picnic areas under the shade. You could literally sit at the waters edge and the stingrays would come right up and play with you. There was awesome snorkeling just walking into the water a little ways (water shoes a MUST). This was the second best snorkeling we saw on the whole trip - next to the coral gardens with Bruno. The current was a little strong there and we had the most fun swimming out to the middle and letting the drift just take us over everything - we saw INCREDIBLE fish and eels just floating about 5 or 6 feet over the coral. Then when we got near the end of all the picnic areas we just swam our way back over to the shore and walked back up to our picnic area. At the end of the day they took us directly back to the ship tenders.

 

Bora Bora - probably the EASIEST place to book on your own - especially since you have two days. When you get off the tender the tour operators will be right there. When we got off the first day we booked a rental car for the second day then took the beach bus and played at the intercontinental. WE felt we missed out on Bora Bora by not doing some kind of snorkel tour or 4x4 tour the first day - but HEY there's always next time.

 

You are going to have a great time, do like you are planning and book a few things with Princess to make you more comfortable - Huahine is a good place to do this. When you get off the the tender at Huahine - there is nothing there - not like the other islands. My boss took the Princess snorkel/motu on Huahine and had a blast.

 

Tammy

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Joyce,

 

If you love the water and gorgeous scenery you will LOVE French Polynesia and what a great time of year to go. I total understand your hesitation, I was a little freaked out too about going it on our own. On one hand my boss had done everything through Princess on the other hand I had another friend who told me "don't book anything through Princess you can find everything you need on the docks cheaper- besides in Huahine or Raiatea". So I took her at her word (as well as those on here) and only pre-booked Marc and Bruno on my own.

 

The bottom line is as long as you get out and DO SOMETHING in the islands you will have fun. DH and I just could not understand two of our tablemates who would just get off the ship - walk into town (and I'm telling you some of the "towns" are pretty small) and come back to the ship to hang out at the pool (they were young and energetic enough too). We were amazed, I think they only took one circle island tour somewhere and never took ANY kind of boat tour.

 

Please post a review for us when you get back and let us all know how your trip worked out for you.

 

Tammy

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Hi Tammy. Even as youngsters, my DH ans I never went on vacation without a "plan". Of course, there were days when we would just "walk around", but even that was planned.

We booked the 4x4 in Raiatea via Princess. Am thinking about booking the Motu Picnic in Moorea (versus the Motu BBQ in Huahini) and the Aqua (Helmet) Safari in BB thru Princess as well. In Raratonga, I think we'll hop Le Truck and find a nice beach. On our first and last days in Pape'ete, we're thinking of taking a ferry over to Moorea and will do an independent tour of some sort, as I hear there's not that much to actually do in Tahiti.

Thanks to all for all the great info. I'll certainly write a review when we get home. (At least once I come down from the "high"!!)

Joyce

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Hi Joyce,

 

I feel for you, LOL, I know it gets very confusing trying to "plan" exactly what you are going to do on every island. I am home sick today, if it would help I can email you some pictures (I don't know how to post them for everyone to view) especially of some of these private tours we did. My email is http://www.doglvoer@comcast.net email me and I can send them to you if you want.

 

My boss did the Princess helmet dive in Bora Bora and LOVED it. When you say the motu picnic in Moorea are you talking about Stephane or Albert tours? Just a reminder, Huahine was the only place we saw the tables with umbrellas in the water, we looked everywhere on the other islands to do it again. In Huahine my Boss did the princess snorkel and picnic with the umbreallas and had a blast. We did Marc's tour - the snorkel motu picnic and LOVED it too, it was fun to start off the trip with circling an island and seeing the incredible waters, then the picnic. Their food was BBQ right there, they had musicians, it was really friendly, peacefull and we all were amazed that we were truely in paradise. One of our most favorite pictures from the entire trip was taken with both of us sitting in the water with beauty behind us. I will also say this about Marc's tour. When the tender docks, he is literally RIGHT there at the dock - I mean his boat is docked 10 feet away from the tender. When we were at the picnic we could see another set-up a little farther away down the motu and we were fairly sure that it was the Princess picnic. If it was - it looked exactly the same as ours and it did not look like there were any more people on it either. I don't remember the price difference between Princess and Marc. I know that half of our group did a 4x4 tour of Huahine first, then met up with us at the picnic.

 

In Tahiti, we actually had a great time on our last day (our flight was the 10:00pm one). We left our hand luggage in the Grill, left our passports, plane tickets, jewelry in the safe with the purser. We took an air conditioned city bus (we went to the visitors center which is right near the ship - super friendly gave us a map and awesome directions to the black sand beach). We had a gorgeous day playing in the gentle surf at the beach, just relaxing with Moorea in the far background and the pretty hillside of Tahiti on another (I can send you pictures of this as well). When we left the bus dropped us right back at the Marche where we did some last minute shopping, walked back to the ship (a short walk), then showered, etc back on the ship. We would definately go back to the beach in Tahiti when/if we get back there again (but we ARE beach lover's).

 

As you can tell we just as had awesome time - as everyone else who posts on here did.

 

Tammy

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Because things are closed on Sunday, the 4x4 tour of Moorea is limited if you are in port on Sunday. The view from Belvedere point was great, but that is about all we saw on our 4x4 tour, besides a pineapple field and the view from the main road as we drove part way around the island. The distillery is closed on Sunday as is a stop we tried to make at some government plantation. Our 4x4 seemed very short on our Sunday, due to all the things not open (and our guide being surprised by the closures, which he should have know about). If it isn't a nice and sunny day, the 4x4 tour may not be worth it on a Sunday. After our quick tour, we spent the afternoon relaxing at small hotel's beach (but can't recall what it was called).

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