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Hoopster95

MARINA/French Polynesia Mar 4-19,2018 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Fantastic review! Really helps as this is one cruise we want to do when DH retires (doesn't have enough vacation time now).

We love that they have a nightly stringed quartet! That alone would really make us want to book with Oceania!

 

How were the men dressed for dinner? Was the buffet an option at dinnertime too? Did the casino have roulette tables?

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This is really awesome! I am so glad that you decided to do it.

I had to laugh that Hoopster said that he didn't go crazy with the picture-taking for the trip. I have a feeling that his girlfriend might disagree :D:D

 

I would have used every word of this review while preparing for the FP cruise. I used a lot of data from the PG forum, but this is perfect in describing Oceania in FP.

 

I can help answer the questions from DrivesLikeMario. The buffet on Oceania, called the Terrace Cafe, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has one of the most impressive spreads for dinner that I have ever seen. You can have lobster or steak cooked on the grill nightly. And, there is no limit. So, if you want four lobster tails, you can order four lobster tails. I might just know someone who did that once or twice.

 

Dinner dress is country club casual. No suits or formal dresses required. You will see folks dressed nicely and several gentlemen in jackets in the specialty restaurants, but the Terrace allows comfortable and mostly casual dress for all dinners.

 

One roulette table. One craps table. I think two poker tables and one blackjack? Someone will correct me with the center tables. Small casino, but nice.

Hoopster - Patrick told me to tell you that he wants a post dedicated to his good looks!

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I can help answer the questions from DrivesLikeMario. The buffet on Oceania, called the Terrace Cafe, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has one of the most impressive spreads for dinner that I have ever seen. You can have lobster or steak cooked on the grill nightly. And, there is no limit. So, if you want four lobster tails, you can order four lobster tails. I might just know someone who did that once or twice.

 

Dinner dress is country club casual. No suits or formal dresses required. You will see folks dressed nicely and several gentlemen in jackets in the specialty restaurants, but the Terrace allows comfortable and mostly casual dress for all dinners.

 

One roulette table. One craps table. I think two poker tables and one blackjack? Someone will correct me with the center tables. Small casino, but nice.

Hoopster - Patrick told me to tell you that he wants a post dedicated to his good looks!

 

Thank you so much for the answers! That really helps and I've taken notes!

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Random questions-

Are there no cushions for the lounge chairs on the Canyon Ranch Spa deck?

When checking for additional specialty restaurant reservation, do you need to go to each restaurant to check what's available that evening or is there one place you can go to ask about all of the restaurants?

Thanks so much for all of the information that you've been sharing! It's great!

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ROFLMAO!!!!!!!

 

Patrick told me to tell you that he wants a post dedicated to his good looks!

 

 

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for the following special announcement.....

 

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A dedication to P A T R I C K and his good looks!

 

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Never EVER get close to this man with a 32oz Porterhouse in front of him... way scarier than the sharks we swam with.

Geez man!!!... Denise.... take that knife away from him! He's gonna poke his eye out

 

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Que Right Said Fred's 80's hit "I'm too sexy".... hubba hubba.... flexorama!

 

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Aaaaaw, how cute... I read the memo.... we wore the same color lol

 

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Did we have a great time or what? We loved you guys.... friends for life! The door is always open for you here Vancouver

 

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now back to our regularly scheduled programming LOL!!

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How were the men dressed for dinner?

 

Bandman & DLM, thank you for the kind words.

 

Further to the dress, the men's attire in the Specialty venues were a little nicer than The Terrace overall. While you don't have to have a jacket or tie whatsoever, I wore a jacket first night to Jacques as we wanted to dress up a little bit... I was not alone as we noted that there were 4 other tables around us with men wearing jackets as well. I wore a tie... only one other gentleman had a tie. Nice polo or short sleeve dress shirts otherwise... I also brought dockers and another pair of dressier linen pants that were light.

 

La Reserve was another small step up..... 3 tables of 8, no one was casual. Everyone was I would say "very" smart casual. I wore same jacket and different tie from Jacques, other men had dress shirts/dress pants vs. polo/dockers for example.

 

Hope this helps you :D

Edited by Hoopster95

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Random questions-

Are there no cushions for the lounge chairs on the Canyon Ranch Spa deck?

 

Only on embarkation day or when then's bad weather. It had just rained that afternoon when we embarked and clouds were still ominous out there. Else yes, there are super comfy cushions

 

When checking for additional specialty restaurant reservation, do you need to go to each restaurant to check what's available that evening or is there one place you can go to ask about all of the restaurants?

 

One place as noted in post #42.... go down to the main reception area deck 5 at bottom of grand staircase starting at 8am every morning to the concierge desk. He/She will be able to tell which restaurants have availability and what times so that you can choose. My butler also offered to check for us one evening to see if cancellations were occurring to squeeze us in. He also mentioned to ask him the night before for assistance as he can check ahead of the next morning rush.

 

Thanks so much for all of the information that you've been sharing! It's great!

 

You're welcome.... have fun following along :D

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I can help answer the questions

 

Consider this your review too if you ever want to answer questions or add opinions. There'll likely be times I'll be absent with a long monster work day and not able to continue the review for more than 24 hours. Go ahead and post anytime :D

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Another awesome Hoopster95 review!

 

I really appreciate your planning tips. I've been impressed by your planning skills from your previous reviews, and I'm taking notes on this one. :D

 

This is a bucket list trip for me, one I certainly hope to cross off that list one of these days. Only thing is, after seeing your resort in Moorea, I'm not sure I'd want to leave there to get aboard the shi Well, ok, I would want to go on that ship, too! The Marina sounds awesome!

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Really great reading. Gets me feeling that we are back there again. Miss it. Keep up the good work. Will look forward to the next posting. Thanks a lot. :):):)

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From the Canyon Ranch Spa, we headed on outside and across the upper pool deck aft. Even though the weather wasn't the greatest on this embarkation day, it didn't stop a few cruisers from enjoying the pool & hot tub right away on day 1 of their cruise vacation. The pool itself is very small, and reminds me of the inadequate pool size on RCL's Radiance Class. Thankfully with only 1200 passengers on board this pool seemed to be ok for the masses. Also note under the decks there are many more loungers in shade rather than exposed in the sun, with end tables between loungers and plenty of walking space for foot traffic. There's also quite a few larger double "beds" on either end of the pool with super comfy pads.

 

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Leaving the outodoor area deck 14, we enter the side door where the last of the indoor public venues are located, including Baristas, The Library, Oceania@Sea internet area, and the final two specialty venues...

 

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Discovering Baristas right there upon entering, we checked out the offerings: like any high end coffee bar, order any specialty coffee you want on the spot free of charge for everyone. If on the Prestige Package, they have a nice selection of liquors to make specialty coffee (ie. grappa, Disarono, Frangelico, etc) as well as a pastry/snack area. Lactose intolerant? No problem.... they have almond milk available. They open at 6:30am each morning and this place became a daily ritual for me right at that time. Fellow Italians Marte and Beatrice (not in the photo) were the excellent baristas here in the morning, quickly serving fellow passengers. They also doubled as servers in Toscana.

 

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The view looking forward from Baristas is nice too, and reminded me of my mornings in various Diamond Lounges on RCL Voyager Class ships.

 

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We needed a pick-me-up so we slammed back a double espresso Italian style (small cups, shooter style), toasted to our first day on the ship, and continues on around the corner to further explore. Referring to the deck plan above, here we are passing the Oceania@Sea Internet area. There's also another section like this one with a further 4 desktops as well so lots of availability for everyone who needs it.

 

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No photo added, passing the Oceania@Sea area is also a small card/games room (called a "Board Room" on the deck plan above) with 4 square tables of 4 with various board games available.

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A nice feature by design regarding this ship and being able to quickly feel at home is the location of it's various amenities and public spaces. Finding dining venues could not be any easier.... they are all aft. Here on deck 14 aft you'll find Oceania's steak house "Polo Grill"

 

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This is a very luxurious space with gorgeous furniture and fine finishing, with plenty of side window space as well as a gorgeous aft view. Of course at night when dining in the dark when at sea, not so much. We dined here twice during the cruise... superb meals both times. For my RCL friends reading along, the quality here much better than Chops for example.

 

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Unlike the dining venues on RCL where tables are jammed closely together to stack as many people as possible into their venues, I did not feel like I was seated 6 inches from the next patron and listening to them chewing their steak... very roomy.

 

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Instead of retracing my steps back out of the main entry of the restaurant, there's a small side door which looks more like a "staff only" area for the servers to enter here at the back of the ship. It's actually the entry into "Privee", a private dining room anyone can rent for a party or special location. Sorry, I forget the cost. Privee can be accessed on both sides (from Polo or Toscana)

 

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Walking through Privee to the other side is a mirror image of Polo.... Toscana, Marina's Italian restaurant. The shape of the room is pretty much exactly the same as Polo with different finishing, furniture, etc

 

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We finish our walk around for the day leaving Toscana and walking through the Library.

 

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This area brought me visions of cruising yesteryear, pre-internet times, and I immediately thought it was extremely antiquated. I couldn't believe a 2011 built ship with have this much of a space dedicated to this library. Having said that, the space feels like you're in someone's den of their home, again with beautiful furniture and rich finishings... and two fireplaces as well to give you that cozy den feeling.

 

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But that's not all.... there's 3 different "rooms" interconnecting through the massive floor-to-ceiling bookshelves affording cruisers truly a full library of selection of books.

 

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I surprisingly found myself looking through some of the shelves out of curiosity to look at the titles... I was surprised to be interested at the variety and antiquity of some of therm. I can only assume that an avid bookworm would be in heaven on this ship. Personally for me, this would be one of the last places I would personally consider using while on a cruise... if I wish to sit on a chair reading a book in a dark lit den rather than enjoying the rest of the ship and the sun in French Polynesia or elsewhere in the world, I can just stay home.

 

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That's about it for most of the public spaces on the ship on embarkation day. I'll have many more as the week progresses. It was here that we made are way back across pool deck to get back to our cabin to see if our luggage had arrived and maybe get a little nap in before muster

 

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Returning to our cabin, our luggage had arrived and we relished placing our clothes away in that massive walk-in closet!! Fantastic storage and closet space in this cabin. Also it was here I had more time to go through some of the paperwork left on the desk for us to familiarize ourselves with the ship, including Oceania's version of RCL's daily "Compass" called "Currents". Placed on our bed the night before, it shows you all the daily onboard activities for the next day and normally includes inserts about the port of call. Like on RCL, there are daily advertising inserts regarding drink specials, spa specials, etc etc etc.... every day there was advertising for something. Thankfully this is how Oceania li its their promotions rather than seemingly being in your face around every corner on RCL.

 

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Note no show offered on night #1... simply a sailaway on pool deck and then a dance party up on Horizons later in the evening.

 

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Back to the room and paper information, here's a letter indicating an new benefit for suite guests... 3 free laundry bags.

Excellent if you wish to travel a bit lighter!

 

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And here are the regular benefits

 

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Besides the normal in-room breakfast order form, each day my GF would have a menu for the MDR the following day delivered to us on paper. Lactose intolerant, she would be able to make MDR menu selections the night before and have a custom meal made for her for the next evening. We never used this service as we ate in the MDR only once. Also we had a choice of various canapes each evening.... their was no lack of excellent food on this ship let me tell you!

 

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Note muster drill was set for 5:15pm... and as we were placing our final clothes away in the drawers the announcement came for us to get ready to go. I had not witnessed this for years on RCL, we had to wear our lifevests from our cabin down to muster located in the theatre.

 

Once muster was done, we went back to our cabin to get ready for the evening. Noting the "sail away" outside through the windows of an upper deck it did not look well attended at all as instead we headed up to Horizons to meet new friends from our roll call as an impromptu Meet & Mingle was set up for 6pm. We had a great nice time meeting everyone as several private excursions had been set up pre-cruise. With dinner reservations set for 8pm, we spent the entire time there in Horizons having a couple of cocktails and enjoying each others company (it felt just like in the Diamond or Concierge Lounges on RCL) until everyone filtered out for their dinner reservations.

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Oceania = best food at sea.... that was foremost in my head regarding what they had sold to me the last few years, let alone various other fellow cruisers who told me about Oceania. We decided to book Jacques on night #1, Oceania's flagship dining venue, to start the cruise off with a bang and have a great meal. We were excited with anticipation. I've already provided photos previously of the venue so I won't bother now with patrons in it, however I did take food photos....

 

Here we go....

 

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Crab salad.... hmm, ok. What is that? Suspect presentation. I looked at it a little stunned actually and asked the server "I ordered the crab salad. Is that it?" Not at all what I expected from the menu description. Maybe my reading skills are off. Thankfully the crab filling itself was delicious

 

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Pate appetizer... Really? Looked very weak considering our expectations. Is that over-the-top special? It wasn't, it was very average and tasteless actually.

 

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Lobster gnocchi.... ok, any better than RCL's starters at their specialty venues? I'm a really good Italian cook (foodie GF agrees as I've made her many restaurant quality meals)... this was not any better than anything I've ever made and I am not a professional chef at a flagship venue. What a let down so far! We were hoping our entrees would come alive....

 

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Do me a favor folks... google Bouillabaisse and look at the hundreds of images. Let me know how many of those hundreds look better than this presentation placed in front of my GF. Unfortunately, it was also bland and very average tasting as well.

 

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Lobster Thermador with sides... in hindsite this was a good dish.... not over-the-top to die need-to-go-back-for-seconds fantastic, just really good, But by this time I don't think I allowed my self to truly enjoy it as we have been discussing how disappointing the meal had been thus far. Sadly, the small ratatouille side dish was the best part of the meal here.

 

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Crepes Suzette, the best part of the evening.

 

As a summary we were very disappointed with Jacques and wondered what all the hype was about, not only about Jacques Pepin but about Oceania as a whole. Had we made a mistake? Are our expectations too high? Maybe Royal Caribbean Specialty food is actually comparable after all {---- GASP!---}! We discussed how many of our specialty dinners on RCL were much better than this one we just had here and hoped this wasn't going to be the case the rest of the cruise. Prior to the cruise we had discussed trying to get further reservations throughout the cruise to Jacques, but definitely took that off the table after this meal. Wow, how disappointing to start this 12 day cruise.

 

We enjoyed the rest of the evening with an after dinner cocktail while exploring the ship a little more. We did check out Horizons when the band started, however we were pretty tired and decided to call it an evening early looking forward to a full day exploring Moorea tomorrow, all the while hoping our dinner/food experiences will improve (- forshadowing -).

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One place as noted in post #42.... go down to the main reception area deck 5 at bottom of grand staircase starting at 8am every morning to the concierge desk. He/She will be able to tell which restaurants have availability and what times so that you can choose. My butler also offered to check for us one evening to see if cancellations were occurring to squeeze us in. He also mentioned to ask him the night before for assistance as he can check ahead of the next morning rush.

 

 

 

You're welcome.... have fun following along :D

Thanks for the info, I missed that part of the post. I'm easily distracted by pretty pictures (and shiny things)!

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Ah yes, good memories! We had a great cruise on Marina to FP. We actually stayed in the OW Bungalo #75 on your map. It was one of the few times we decided to really splurge on a vacation. Sitting on the back porch and seeing nothing but ocean was priceless.

 

Can't wait to see more pictures.

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Day 2 - Moorea (March 8)

 

Pre-cruise we had booked a half day snorkel with Arnaud at Voila Moorea for this day. Also pre -cruise we had planned on the 3rd day staying at the Hilton to leave the resort and rent a car to explore the island on land... both two plans quickly changed once we got to the Hilton as there was no way we wanted to leave that Bungalow we were staying in!

 

Our motivation/discussion at the time pre-cruise was not to rent a car on the day we tendered from the Marina just in case of an accident, flat tire, etc etc. Having driven rental cars all over the world for a day off of a cruise ship, this really didn't bug me, and we factored this into the equation now while sitting on our deck at the Hilton. Not only that, we have a ton of sailing/snorkeling excursions coming up at most every other port of call, so we quickly emailed Arnaud who graciously said no problem to cancel as he'll have no issue getting two more people to join onto his boat (with a 1200 passenger cruise ship in town? Yep, no worries here).

 

The final plan became set in stone for this day off of the cruise ship ... book that rental car so that we can have the day to ourselves away from everybody else and explore the island. The concierge at the Hilton called up Avis who confirmed that a reservation is required as cars were being booked ahead of time and running out, so she did that for us (2 days in advance). We were set!

 

In the meantime, I had also planned not to sleep in too much (other than sea days) as I wished to enjoy the spectacular area of the world we are in when sailing into port. We woke early and did not hesitate to see the brightness of the sun shining around the edges of the curtains. And this is when we got our first glimpse of what was many gorgeous mornings from our cabin and balcony

 

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Yep, simply horrible, right? A Windstar ship was sailing right by us at that time as well. How gorgeous.

 

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Nothing like running up to Barista's for double shot Americanos (triple for GF) and sitting on those nicely padded wicker furniture chairs on our balcony. I mentioned in another thread that on this sailing I feel that the port side cabins had the better views for most of the ports we sailed in to... those on the starboard side could not have possibly seen any of this unless they were top deck. The absolute very best views would be forward from the wrap around huge decks that the Vista Class suites have.

 

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Tendering can be tricky. Cruisers who are independently exploring definitely get delayed compared to those with excursions. We experienced this right away on this first day and learned very quickly with our other private excursion cruise guests that we need to be down at the theatre very early to get tender tickets.

 

If you are on an Oceania excursion, your excursion ticket is the tender ticket as well. The staff in the theatre front desk physically count numbers of people on those excursions in order to fill the tenders. They also hand out coloured tender tickets for independant. You will find that the earliest tenders are sometimes the easiest to get on as the O excursions cruisers (who are due to meet at 8:30am or 9am for example) are not all down at the theatre at 8am, so often we were on one of the first tenders.

 

On this day, we had booked the Avis pick-up for 9am. Thankfully, we were down at the theatre at 8am, but received a later tender ticket and did not get a tender until approximately 8:30am. We now learned what we needed to do.

For those in Vista Class or higher, you get to walk right down and get on any tender you want with no ticket or waiting.

 

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We were in for a beautiful day in Moorea today

 

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Marina looks beautiful with Moorea as her backdrop. For my RCL friends following along, imagine removing her current funnels and "O" logo, and replacing it with a Viking Crown.... looks very much like a Royal ship with sleek lines. This is a beautiful class of ship.

 

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Loving this review though we're headed in a different direction (Baltic) for our first Oceania cruise, also on Marina, this summer. Just a question about GF's food intolerance...when and how was that communicated to Oceania? I have a food allergy so want everybody to know about it in order to avoid any cross-contamination, but I couldn't find anywhere to list allergies on the website profile and, when I phoned the company, was told to make the rounds of each dining venue to speak to each chef on the first day. Is that what you did? I can't imagine chefs are standing around just waiting to chat with me on Day 1.

 

Looking forward to the next installment of your adventures...what pictures! Swoon!

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Superb review. FP has long been "on my list"..... :cool:

 

Joe

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Just a question about GF's food intolerance...when and how was that communicated to Oceania? I have a food allergy so want everybody to know about it in order to avoid any cross-contamination, but I couldn't find anywhere to list allergies on the website profile and, when I phoned the company, was told to make the rounds of each dining venue to speak to each chef on the first day. Is that what you did?

 

GF can handle butter no problem.... but not milk, cream or cheese.

 

Whatever venue we went to (ie. night #1 in Jacques), we went over the menu with the waiter and he came back with options/recommendations from the chef, was very easy and wasn't an issue. GF also took lactaid as required.

 

It was I think the 2nd day when my GF mentioned to our butler that she could not eat one of the canape's due to cheese. It was at that point he took note and provided us with the daily form for the MDR for the next night's dinner, as they would take note and provide options for the next day. because we only visited the MDR once, we never used this service

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A big hello from the other way down the road .... fraser valley , one question do they offer trivia during the day like rccl , looking forward to sailing on this ship in a 1.5 years

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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To be very clear.... this is not the Caribbean. You simply do not get off the tender and walk around the town to a million little shops, jewelry stores and restaurants.Coming off the little pier there was nothing there other than a tent set up with tables of locals with their arts & crafts, plus a holding area ahead for excursion meeting point. If yo were to walk out of the pier area and up the street to the main road, there will be nothing to see or do for miles... you will be greatly disappointed. Unlike most of the other ports, there were several options for cruisers coming off of the ship without any plans with several different companies all offering approximately the same thing.

 

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I think the next time I visit I would love to try the quad tours that would hit the trails going inland... you'll see in pictures to come how lush the interior of the island is, would be spectacular by ATV getting up to the viewpoints by way of the various trails and plantations. However here at the tender port many buses were waiting.

 

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As promised, our AVIS transport in small mini-van with 2 other cruisers was waiting there for us right on time at the very visible AVIS sign, just like the lady said the other day when I spoke to her. They transport once every half hour (8:30, 9, 9:30, 10) from the pier as it's 10 min to the AVIS depot located at the Intercontinental Resort.

 

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By 9:30'sh and 13,800 xpf later (about $150), we were in our car and heading out of the Intercontinental parking lot. Here is a map of the island with approximate locations of the places/sites I'll be showing you pictures of. I added the black stars with letters, as well as the legend at the bottom left. Remember this post and scroll back to it... when I get to the top of page 5 of this review I'll hope to remember to repost it so it's easy to refer to

 

We did a full circle tour of the island in a clockwise direction, in fact passing the Intercontinental a second time to backtrack to a beach for an hour that we really liked at the end of the day before returning the car. So coming out of the Intercontinental, we turned left (eastward) back towards the Papeto'ai tender pier area as our first priority was to explore inland to Belvedere viewpoint before any crowds to come from excursions.

 

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Driving was extremely simple.... just stay on the main road as it goes all around the island! It's about a 1 hour 20 min drive non-stop all the way around the island per the AVIS lady. No way to get lost whatsoever with only a handful of roads that go inland. Driving is on the right, like in North America. Signage is great throughout we discovered. It felt great having some freedom away from the ship on land rather than in the water, exploring on our own. We started right away being able to stop our car and take photos and enjoy views anywhere we wanted.... Such as below at the end of Opunohu Bay with a view of Marina anchored in the distance.

 

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I mentioned the street signage in the previous post, here's an example... again, very easy to find everything as we circumnavigated the island. A simple printout of an internet map would suffice to find major landmarks as you go along.

 

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All cars in Moorea are 4x4 by law (per the AVIS lady). Here's a shot of our Dacia "Stepway" SUV. I have never heard of this brand before, turns out it's a Renault product.... figures, we are in French Polynesia after all lol. Great little car, drove very well.

 

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First order of business, getting up to Belvedere before any rain, clouds or tourists hinder our enjoyment. We wound our way up the mountainside passing by various sites before getting up to the Belvedere viewpoint and dead end (you can't go any farther). The reward was well worth it.... If you zoom into this photo you'd see part of Marina in Opanuhu Bay on the left... Cook's Bay is on the right where most of the other worthy sites to visit are located

 

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Like other parts of the world, it's easy to leave your mark here as a memento... bring a lock with you!

 

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We hung out for about 15 minutes just enjoying the view and having some fun

 

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Very soon after, 3 buses and a group of ATV's showed up all at once.... that was our que to go, but not before one last unobstructed shot. It's very cool mapping out these peaks from this vantage point as we saw them during sail-in+ from our balcony, wondering which one Belvedere would be

 

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