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melissa@cruisecritic

Off to French Polynesia: Got Questions?

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Hi everyone,

 

This Sunday, I'm off to French Polynesia onboard Tahitian Princess -- and if there's anything I've learned during the last few weeks, it's that planning a cruise on the other side of world is challenging!

 

I use the boards often for help and I'd like to pay it forward. If you have questions about what to do ashore, what it's like onboard, etc., post them here through March 2. I'll be sailing from Papeete, Tahiti, calling at Huahine, Rarotonga, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Moorea.

 

I'll try to post answers here throughout my journey, but if there are technical difficulties while I'm onboard (through March 7), check back the following week.

 

I can't wait to get back and tell you all about the ports and the ship!

Melissa

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There are a couple people in our group going to Tahiti who want to get a tattoo on the trip. I'd love to know about anyone you meet on your cruise who gets a tattoo -- who did it and how it worked out for them. I've gotten some names from Jan Prince's book, but personal experiences are always best.

 

Thanks.

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I would like to know if there are any "in the water" picnics at Raiatea. Also if any local tour companies have web sites, especially West Coast Tours.

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"in the water" picnics at Raiatea.

 

WOW, something new! I've never heard of an in the water picnic.....can't wait to see what Mel finds out!

 

Laura

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Hi Jim,

I know that there was one offered today in Huahine -- sounds like a blast, though we did an island highlights tour and then explored on our own. I'll look into availability in Raiatea for you. Hang tight!

Melissa

 

I would like to know if there are any "in the water" picnics at Raiatea. Also if any local tour companies have web sites, especially West Coast Tours.

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Melissa,

We're boarding the Paul Gauguin on Saturday for the two week cruise--and I'm packing too much, I know...got to cut back some.

My question: HOW HOT IS IT???

Helene

PS--I'm leaving here on Thursday for precruise travel so please, if you can, answer soon!

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Hi Melissa,

My family, friends, and I actually looked at the same trip you are doing for December of this year. Part of the reason I decided not to do it, was because it was an older ship and I was concerned that they didn't have a dedicated kids program in place. My husband and I are avid divers and we like the security of leaving our 8 year old son on the ship, while we explore the bottom side of many countries. He has sailed with us many times with Disney cruise line- and they have a wonderful kids program.

 

What type of ammenities are they currently offering for families with children on your trip and would you recommend this as a cruise for an active family?

 

What type of excursions are they offering that are dive related?

 

I would love to see some photos of the area, ship, and the ports you are in- as we still might change our mind and do this trip either late December or early January.

 

 

 

My last question would be- is how is the food and dining on a smaller ship?

 

 

My only cruising experiences has been with DCL, so I am used to rotating restaurants with my servers and the food quality is usually high.

 

Thanks and have a great trip!

 

Celeste

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We are headed for French Polynesia on the Mercury sailing Nov 23, 2007. Please give us your thoughts and observations for the beaches that we just should not miss.

 

Thanks,

 

Countykids

 

Zuiderdam 2004:)

Constellation 2005:)

Volendam 2006:)

Century 2006:)

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Thanky you, I left a message on the other board has lost track of which so which, Sorry and thank you for your helpfulness.

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Hi, I'll jump in here too -- have cruised on both Tahitian Princess and Paul Gauguin though it's been awhile :) .

Let me just say that it's hot. It's so hot that I remember burning my feet on the pool deck on Tahitian Princess (it was covered in that awful Renaissance-era flooring that just radiated heat; may be changed by now). Melissa, will you let us know? If it's beige and crackly to walk on...it's the old stuff.

It's also the most humid region I've ever visited. The women who live there (actually the men as well) have the most beautiful skin -- naturally moisterized, I might add (you can just leave that at home, LOL).

Paul Gauguin, got to say, is one of the fondest memories of my cruising career and we've got the ship on the schedule to review again...think maybe...I'll get the assignment! Anyway, look forward to hearing about your impressions. And pack lots of light cottons.

And another piece of advice I passed on to Melissa: unless you want to wear pareos all the time (and heck, some do), pack a lot. Cause there's not much to buy when you get there.

Carolyn

 

 

 

Melissa' date='

We're boarding the Paul Gauguin on Saturday for the two week cruise--and I'm packing too much, I know...got to cut back some.

My question: HOW HOT IS IT???

Helene

PS--I'm leaving here on Thursday for precruise travel so please, if you can, answer soon![/quote']

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I'll let Melissa fill you in on the kids program onboard Tahitian Princess but Paul Gauguin does have a very active, strong program during the summer months. Check it out at www.rssc.com....

Carolyn

 

Hi Melissa,

My family, friends, and I actually looked at the same trip you are doing for December of this year. Part of the reason I decided not to do it, was because it was an older ship and I was concerned that they didn't have a dedicated kids program in place. My husband and I are avid divers and we like the security of leaving our 8 year old son on the ship, while we explore the bottom side of many countries. He has sailed with us many times with Disney cruise line- and they have a wonderful kids program.

 

What type of ammenities are they currently offering for families with children on your trip and would you recommend this as a cruise for an active family?

 

What type of excursions are they offering that are dive related?

 

I would love to see some photos of the area, ship, and the ports you are in- as we still might change our mind and do this trip either late December or early January.

 

 

 

My last question would be- is how is the food and dining on a smaller ship?

 

 

My only cruising experiences has been with DCL, so I am used to rotating restaurants with my servers and the food quality is usually high.

 

Thanks and have a great trip!

 

Celeste

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Yesterday was our first port of call: Huahine. Huahine is part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, as are most of our stops except for Rarotonga. This is a tender port and the boat ride is about five minutes long. Once you arrive at the tender dock, there's not much there besides pick-up points for ship-sponsored excursions, a restroom, and a small hut across the street that sells crafts and snacks.

 

For folks who are interested in touring on their own, there are options. At the tender dock, you can rent a car or scooter from Hertz, Avis or Europcar (an air-conditioned sedan will set you back around $79). Or, take the $5 shuttle into the waterfront town of Fare (you have to, it's a 20-minute drive, no way you could walk it and there's no real cab service from the dock); once in town, there are several tour operators. You can rent bikes and kayaks. There's a nice, free, public beach within five minutes walking distance of here, too.

 

The island is lush, quiet and beautiful. Less than 5,000 people live here, and everyone knows their neighbors far and near. I was told an interesting story about a passenger who made friends with a local that longed for something from the states: beef jerky. The passenger offered to send beef jerky, and was instructed to address the package this simply: her name, Huahine, French Polynesia. The jerky got there -- no address required!

 

Around the island, you'll see 400-year-old stone fish traps that the locals still use today, and stone and coral temples -- some of Polynesia's coolest archeological sites are on Huahine, and you can take a tour to see more of them. You really do get a sense of "old" Polynesia, not something fabricated for tourists. There's a lookout point called Belevedere, and from here you can look down into the bay and grab a great photo of the ship! We took Princess' Island Highlights tour, which also included a stop at a museum in a hut over the water, and a roadside vanilla plantation.

 

Speaking of which, you can buy vanilla here (pearls, too, though I am going to explore that option elsewhere later in the week); for about $10, you'll get 10 vanilla beans, though it could be more or less depending on the length of the beans.

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Hi Celeste,

I will definitely look into the kids' program and family amenities for you, though I'll say up front that I have seen only two or three children onboard so far. You may find more on a December cruise, though, because that is closer to holiday season!

 

So far we have had excellent food. There's only one main dining room and it operates on a set seating basis -- doesn't rotate the way Disney does. There are also two alternative (fee) restaurants, Sabatini's (Italian, eating there tonight) and Sterling (steakhouse, ate there last night and enjoyed it very much). I like that the poolside grill has long hours 10 or 11 until 6 p.m., which will be great for lunches with the kids.

 

Hang tight for more information,

Melissa

 

Hi Melissa,

My family, friends, and I actually looked at the same trip you are doing for December of this year. Part of the reason I decided not to do it, was because it was an older ship and I was concerned that they didn't have a dedicated kids program in place. My husband and I are avid divers and we like the security of leaving our 8 year old son on the ship, while we explore the bottom side of many countries. He has sailed with us many times with Disney cruise line- and they have a wonderful kids program.

 

What type of ammenities are they currently offering for families with children on your trip and would you recommend this as a cruise for an active family?

 

What type of excursions are they offering that are dive related?

 

I would love to see some photos of the area, ship, and the ports you are in- as we still might change our mind and do this trip either late December or early January.

 

 

 

My last question would be- is how is the food and dining on a smaller ship?

 

 

My only cruising experiences has been with DCL, so I am used to rotating restaurants with my servers and the food quality is usually high.

 

Thanks and have a great trip!

 

Celeste

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Hi, I'll jump in here too -- have cruised on both Tahitian Princess and Paul Gauguin though it's been awhile :) .

 

Let me just say that it's hot. It's so hot that I remember burning my feet on the pool deck on Tahitian Princess (it was covered in that awful Renaissance-era flooring that just radiated heat; may be changed by now). Melissa, will you let us know? If it's beige and crackly to walk on...it's the old stuff.

 

It's also the most humid region I've ever visited. The women who live there (actually the men as well) have the most beautiful skin -- naturally moisterized, I might add (you can just leave that at home, LOL).

 

Paul Gauguin, got to say, is one of the fondest memories of my cruising career and we've got the ship on the schedule to review again...think maybe...I'll get the assignment! Anyway, look forward to hearing about your impressions. And pack lots of light cottons.

 

And another piece of advice I passed on to Melissa: unless you want to wear pareos all the time (and heck, some do), pack a lot. Cause there's not much to buy when you get there.

 

Carolyn

 

Thanks Carolyn...I'm still packing and looking at the pilies of clothing and wondering...and wondering... one of my fellow cc members who'd "done" the PG recently wrote that she lived in her bathing suit most of the time. One other thought was how cool is it on the ship as in will I freeze inside and melt outside? DH says it can't be any different than other ships--but baby, it's HOT outside so inside will seem cooler. Just checked the weather channel site--says that it feels like 102 in Papeete right now...a bathing suit sounds like formal dress at that temp! I'm just stressing...

 

SO you want to get assigned to review the PG? I could volunteer but I know you'll do a better job. I'll just be the reporter on the scene if there's anything to report like I did in December/January on Millennium. Only if there's a problem, though, since I'm going to try and avoid PCs and relax.

 

I will have one interesting thing to report back on though--we're going to have that Tahitian wedding vow renewal ceremony thanks to your article on CC. Sounded romantic and since we're celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, we figured it would be fun to do!

 

Have a blast Melissa! Thanks again Caroline--keep NJ under control while I'm gone.

Helene

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Speaking of which, you can buy vanilla here (pearls, too, though I am going to explore that option elsewhere later in the week); for about $10, you'll get 10 vanilla beans, though it could be more or less depending on the length of the beans.

 

Darn....when Mel asked "hey Laura what can I bring you back from my Tahiti cruise I stupidly said "check out the vanilla for me, Mel". What is wrong with me? I *should* have said...................pearls. Duh!

 

Mel, sounds like you are having a great time. One of the best meals I've ever had on a ship was the "experience" at Sabatini's. Can't wait to hear what you think...

 

Laura

PS: Just kidding about the pearls .

 

Laura

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Hi,

I'm seaweed green with envy, You are on my dream cruise. I am very interested to know what ports you can get to a beach on your own, or if it would be better for a planned excursion. I can't wait to read more. Thanks for taking the time.

Bella

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Thanks Melissa for the info on Huahine. We are Seniors taking the same cruise in April and like to venture on our own rather than take tours. Am interested in availability of rental cars and even a outboard motor boat on the various islands. We would especially like to spend a day in Bora Bora on the water. Thanks for the heads up

Dorothy

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I am going to be on the Tahitian Princess on the April 6th sailing. I would like to do a bit of diving. Should I plan to dive with ship sponsored dive trips or plan my own? I am a bit wary of "cattleboats" and would much prefer smaller groups. What seems to be the best island to dive?

Thanks,

Shelly

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I just booked on Tahitian Princess for the June 17th sailing. I'm looking forward to following this thread and will probably get most of my questions answered by just reading the responses of others. What I am most interested in is the pros and cons of such a small ship compared to all the large ships I normally cruise on (Explorer, Caribbean Princess, Infinity).

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are you using french polynesian francs, euros, or dollars? sounds like a great trip!

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Helene, have a fabulous trip! And I can't wait to hear about your vow renewal ceremony. Think my husband and I will do that when we go. It sounds utterly special.

Carolyn

 

Thanks Carolyn...I'm still packing and looking at the pilies of clothing and wondering...and wondering... one of my fellow cc members who'd "done" the PG recently wrote that she lived in her bathing suit most of the time. One other thought was how cool is it on the ship as in will I freeze inside and melt outside? DH says it can't be any different than other ships--but baby' date=' it's HOT outside so inside will seem cooler. Just checked the weather channel site--says that it feels like 102 in Papeete right now...a bathing suit sounds like formal dress at that temp! I'm just stressing...

 

SO you want to get assigned to review the PG? I could volunteer but I know you'll do a better job. I'll just be the reporter on the scene if there's anything to report like I did in December/January on Millennium. Only if there's a problem, though, since I'm going to try and avoid PCs and relax.

 

I will have one interesting thing to report back on though--we're going to have that Tahitian wedding vow renewal ceremony thanks to your article on CC. Sounded romantic and since we're celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, we figured it would be fun to do!

 

Have a blast Melissa! Thanks again Caroline--keep NJ under control while I'm gone.

Helene[/quote']

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We are on the Tahatian Princess July 19 2007 Tahati to Hawaii. We are brining our 18 year old daughter for her graduation present. I heard in Tahati that the legal age for drinking is 18 - do you know if that is true? Does Princess let 18 year olds drink or gamble?

 

So far the only excursion we want to book is the Helmet Dive in Bora Bora. If you get any info on that it would be great - my husband is not a big water lover and is worried it might not be for him.

 

THANKS for this thread...This will really help us plan the rest of our trip.:)

 

We would also love to hear comments about any special foods and deserts you find irresistable.

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I've met a new friend onboard who is an avid diver, and I know she's booked several tours through the excursions desk. She is diving today in Rarotonga and definitely in Bor Bora, not sure where else. I will ask her for her advice, and relay it ...

 

I am going to be on the Tahitian Princess on the April 6th sailing. I would like to do a bit of diving. Should I plan to dive with ship sponsored dive trips or plan my own? I am a bit wary of "cattleboats" and would much prefer smaller groups. What seems to be the best island to dive?

Thanks,

Shelly

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Oh, I find almost all desserts irresistible ;) Actually, Princess does dessert very well. The tiramisu at Sabatini's is very, very good. I also love the chocolate chip cookies in the buffet (they are available through room service, too).

 

I will check on the age for drinking; there is just a handful of kids definitely too young to drink. I would imagine that she'd be fine in port for having a beer.

 

I can't wait to helmet dive -- we're signed up!

 

We are on the Tahatian Princess July 19 2007 Tahati to Hawaii. We are brining our 18 year old daughter for her graduation present. I heard in Tahati that the legal age for drinking is 18 - do you know if that is true? Does Princess let 18 year olds drink or gamble?

 

So far the only excursion we want to book is the Helmet Dive in Bora Bora. If you get any info on that it would be great - my husband is not a big water lover and is worried it might not be for him.

 

THANKS for this thread...This will really help us plan the rest of our trip.:)

 

We would also love to hear comments about any special foods and deserts you find irresistable.

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Carolyn, thanks for posting your experiences, too! You are right -- it is HOT, especially on the deck. You can seriously blister your feet walking on that pool deck surface.

 

Today in Rarotonga the temperature is expected to be about 86, which is not too bad. We just dropped anchor and tendering will start shortly -- stay tuned for a full report!

 

Last night we ate dinner in Sabatini's, Princess' specialty Italian restaurant. What's interesting on this ship is that because of the small size of ship and crew, Sabatini's and Sterling Steakhouse are never open on the same evening; they alternate. Once I have all of my Patters from the trip I will post what my schedule was to help those of you looking for the best nights to do the alternative dining. Sabatini's was fabulous -- I ate a veal chop that was nearly the size of my head!

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