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RMMariner

HAL in French Polynesia

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Hello. We have never cruised with HAL, but we are very interested in cruising in French Polynesia. We have cruised with Princess and Celebrity, but neither line really has a cruise itinerary that does not traverse the entire Pacific. We would like to spend our time in French Polynesia, not on a bunch of sea days.

 

HAL has a couple itineraries that spend the entire cruise in French Polynesia. Has anyone been on one of these cruises? If so what is it like?

 

We are in our early 50's, and like to be active. We have looked at Oceania and Gaugin, but they are much more expensive. We even looked at Aranui 5. Any advice would be appreciated, particularly from someone who has been on more than one of these lines in this area of the world.

 

Thank You.

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It would be helpful to know what specific itineraries you are considering. The French Polynesian ports that I have visited on a HAL cruise have always been enjoyable with some interesting shore excursions available. Moorea and Bora Bora were--and are--favorite ports of mine.

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Sorry. Should have been more specific. We are looking at the October cruises that sails from Papeete to the Marquesas, Ringaroa, Rarotonga and then back to the main Polynesian islands. We would fly into Papeete.

 

Always wanted to go there. We rode our bicycles around the Pacific for a year on our honeymoon, but missed French Polynesia because it was so expensive. We would love to bike on a lot of these islands, and I love diving and snorkeling. On the diving days my wife would probably just be more interested in the beaches.

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We looked at those, too.... we're by Seattle.....the deal breaker for us was the cost of airfare --- ~$2500 pp.

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We did Tales of the South Pacific on the HAL Rotterdam and hit many of those stops and they do provide good options for active people - if you like to snorkel or scuba. We are now signed up for the HAL Maasdam Kontiki cruise from Fort Lauderdale and ends in Papeete, and hits some of the same islands as well, but also a lot, lot more.

 

Have you looked at airfare to Papeete yet - bit of sticker shock, just one way for us to get back to LAX from PPE. I think you will like HAL ships in this area very much. People were routing themselves through New Zealand to get better deals on airfare.

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How about the Maasdam April 2019 French Polynesia cruise from Auckland to San Francisco? Next leg Maasdam heads for Alaska so only one long International Flight.

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How about the Maasdam April 2019 French Polynesia cruise from Auckland to San Francisco? Next leg Maasdam heads for Alaska so only one long International Flight.

 

Not good if they want to avoid long sea days...but that is the Pacific Ocean - lots and lots of water. So those long sea days become part of the Pacific Ocean experience. Remarkable there is so much going on day to day among these scattered islands so far away with thousand of miles of water inbetween and they could care less about what we find soooo important day to day stateside. Humbling.

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I did a 22 day South Pacific cruise on the Maasdam this past November and went to Tonga (2), Niue, Fiji(4), Bora Bora, Moorea, American Samoa and Tahiti. There were options for active people at most ports. Also, the Maasdam is being fitted with Zodiacs to allow more active tours. I went snorkeling most everywhere.

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Also, you can do OK using FF miles if you have them or maybe a package deak with a layover in Tahiti or Hawaii.

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I've been following a very well-written, informative thread on the Oceania board about a couple's cruise to French Polynesia on the Oceania Marina.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2616029

 

It sounds as though this is the cruise you'd like to take. Don't be put off by the Oceania cruise fare. Once you take into account all the extras that are included in your fare that aren't on HAL, and if you take a more reasonably priced oceanview or inside cabin, (that OP was in a suite with a butler) the difference between HAL and Oceania isn't that great.

 

French Polynesia isn't on my bucket list. But its fascinating to live vicariously on someone else's vacation.

Edited by baggal
spelling

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Hi RM Marnier.

 

We're booked on the Oct 28th with Maasadam's 2 week Polynesia Idyll. I agree, the itenerairy looks amazing, all the places I want to snorkel and see Manta Rays and ocean life ... and kayak too. If you decide to book go on over to the roll call, lot's of research on excursions. We have never been on Holland either and looked into the same choices you had mentioned and decided to go with Hal.

 

If you book Ready Set Sail on the Hal site, the flights from LA to Papeete are 999C$. that mades a big difference for us. I'm also active , mid (60's) hubby not so much and looking to forward to being off the ship every day and experiencing all the Freench Polynesia has to offer on my once in a life time experience. Hope you join us.

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I've been following a very well-written, informative thread on the Oceania board about a couple's cruise to French Polynesia on the Oceania Marina.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2616029

 

It sounds as though this is the cruise you'd like to take. Don't be put off by the Oceania cruise fare. Once you take into account all the extras that are included in your fare that aren't on HAL, and if you take a more reasonably priced oceanview or inside cabin, (that OP was in a suite with a butler) the difference between HAL and Oceania isn't that great.

 

French Polynesia isn't on my bucket list. But its fascinating to live vicariously on someone else's vacation.

 

JMO but I didn't find that much included on Oceania and drinks were much pricier along with a few other things.

 

specialty dining was so so other than Jacques on our cruise.

 

OP, we did most of your spots when we did our cruise a couple of years ago on HAL. We did mainly private tours a couple of HAL's but there were lots of swimming/snorkel/activity type possiblities on all of the islands. Granted we did the sailing across the Pacific but it was a fabulous time on board with lots of Hawaiin type activities, a great Hawaii guide that educated us. It's definitely an experience to do at least once :)

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RMMariner, I have been in contact with Reef Discovery re:snorkelling with the Mantas and they have awesome ratings and snorkel 3-4 places. Bora Bora ... Nov 8th.

 

Here is there reply; "On the shared circle lagoon tour we take maximum 8 people per boat, it costs 120 USD per person.

We will come to pick you up directly at Vaitape Pier where the tender will drop you off, and same for the return.

I remain at your disposal for any further information"

 

Check it out . http://www.puresnorkeling.com

 

I am an avid snorkeller, love all Rays and underrwater photography. I'm also a diver but I prefer the ease of snorkelling. I have been checking out all the ports for under-water activities so if you decide to go ...email me and I'll share what I have.

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Thank you so much for all the helpful replies.

 

Kazu - Thank you. It is always nice to hear positive things from someone who has been there.

 

Baggal - Thank you for the link. I will give Oceania another look.

 

Sambamama - Did not know about the zodiacs. They sound great.

 

Liamur, I agree with you about snorkeling. I have dove throughout the Pacific, but my best memories are of snorkeling. Thank you so much for the link as well.

 

Salt - Airfare is a consideration, but I think we have decided to bite the bullet on that one. Routing through New Zealand may be an option.

 

I am trying to arrange time off work for this. If we do not do it this year, we are definitely going next year. Still another 5 years or so until I will have freedom to go whenever I want.

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Thank you so much for all the helpful replies.

 

Kazu - Thank you. It is always nice to hear positive things from someone who has been there.

 

Baggal - Thank you for the link. I will give Oceania another look.

 

Sambamama - Did not know about the zodiacs. They sound great.

 

Liamur, I agree with you about snorkeling. I have dove throughout the Pacific, but my best memories are of snorkeling. Thank you so much for the link as well.

 

Salt - Airfare is a consideration, but I think we have decided to bite the bullet on that one. Routing through New Zealand may be an option.

 

I am trying to arrange time off work for this. If we do not do it this year, we are definitely going next year. Still another 5 years or so until I will have freedom to go whenever I want.

 

We did an extensive pacific cruise on Oceania Marina and it was one of our best trips, ever. We loved the ship, islands and gentle people. The beauty is indescribable. The Oceania thread is all about Marina, which is our all time favorite.

 

Oceania is definitely more expensive, even with more included items. Paul Gauguin gets great reviews. A less expensive option might be Windstar which has some FP sailings.

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Have you looked at airfare to Papeete yet - bit of sticker shock, just one way for us to get back to LAX from PPE. I think you will like HAL ships in this area very much. People were routing themselves through New Zealand to get better deals on airfare.

We will be flying PPT to LAX next January and I was shocked to find that the 8:30 AM flight on Wednesdays & Fridays on Air France were $555 one way. That was less than the air credit we received from Oceania! All other flights I had looked at were over $1000.

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We will be flying PPT to LAX next January and I was shocked to find that the 8:30 AM flight on Wednesdays & Fridays on Air France were $555 one way. That was less than the air credit we received from Oceania! All other flights I had looked at were over $1000.

 

Shocked to see how low of a fare you found. Good work. Yes, everything we looked at (and had to book) was over $1000 one way. Making some of these lower fares available only on a few days and early in the morning often forces overnights for cruise passengers so there is no savings overall unfortunately.

 

We found our best bet was to package both flights - getting to Fort Launderdale and back to LAX from Papeete into a single "multi-city" fare worked best for us ---plus finding Air Tahiti Nui has 2-4-2 seating to LAX which sealed the deal for us. At some point in our cruise planning, we just gulp and bite the bullet - it is what it is. The itinerary on this Maasdam Kon-Tiki was just too good to pass up. Price of admission.

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Also, just so you know, the HAL ships frequently miss Raratonga as the tide makes it really hard to moor there. Our ship missed it; we did a sail around the island instead. I found it very difficult to get information on tours and will be happy to share info on tours that I thought were great.

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Maybe the original poster of this thread won't be interested, but just in case I'll mention HAL' s itinerary "Tales of the South Pacific" on the Amsterdam, in autumn of 2019. It's a round-trip from San Diego, so no long flights from Papeete, and the itinerary looks very interesting. It does include quite a few stops in French Polynesia. Just a thought.

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Sambamamba - Interesting about Rarotonga not always being moorable. We actually spent a month there in 1992, on our honeymoon, as our first stop on a trip where we biked for a year around the South Pacific. I loved the Cooks, and would be quite sad to miss it. Love to hear about the tours - thank you.

 

Mom - I am interested in that cruise. 2019 may be a more practical time for us. Work just keeps getting in the way of my vacation time. Thanks for bringing it up. I had not looked at anything, but cruises in French Polynesia itself. I am not wild about sea days, but my wife loves them, so it may work for us.

 

Sea42 - Thanks for the heads up on fares. I too, was having trouble finding anything that was much less than $2000 round trip. I will try the Air France site.

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Shocked to see how low of a fare you found. Good work. Yes, everything we looked at (and had to book) was over $1000 one way. Making some of these lower fares available only on a few days and early in the morning often forces overnights for cruise passengers so there is no savings overall unfortunately.

 

Fortunately for us we had planned on visiting Moorea for few days after our cruise so it worked out perfectly!

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Fortunately for us we had planned on visiting Moorea for few days after our cruise so it worked out perfectly!

 

The majority of passengers on our FP sailing spent a few days pre or post cruise at Moorea or B.B. the fast ferry to Moorea is forty minutes each way with frequent departures. BB requires a flight which I will do next time. Those who did not stay over expressed regret.

We arrived four days early, stayed one night in Papeete and three nights at Moorea.

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The majority of passengers on our FP sailing spent a few days pre or post cruise at Moorea or B.B. the fast ferry to Moorea is forty minutes each way with frequent departures. BB requires a flight which I will do next time. Those who did not stay over expressed regret.

We arrived four days early, stayed one night in Papeete and three nights at Moorea.

We are so looking forward to our first visit although I have a feeling it won't be our last!:D

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We enjoyed FP onboard the Paul Gauguin. You will find a lot more about FP on the Paul Gauguin boards as that is the only place they sail. Lots of discussions of various independent operators.

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