The Cruise ... 5 months later
Pre-cruise, days 1-3:
We arrived in Pape'ete in the evening and were taken directly to our hotel. It was very nice and our room had the biggest bed we've ever seen. It was actually two doubles pushed together! The first night we were there was the French Polynesian National Fire Dancing Championships so we had the insanely expensive buffet that was on and watched men rub themselves with fire. It was like extreme baton twirling for the solo performances, and extreme fire cheerleading for the groups. It was really neat but got old kinda quickly. The next 3 days were spent mainly in the pool despite the fact that the warm ocean was about 10 feet away. But the ocean had a surprisingly strong current and lots of shells in the sand so we mainly stayed in the soft sand-bottomed pool. We both got burnt eventhough we were wearing SPF 30! We went into the city of Pape'ete for an afternoon but it was very unimpressive and went back to the hotel after only a few hours.
Day 1, Pape'ete [Pap-ee-tee]:
After checking in with the cruise people we looked around our room (which didn't take very long) wandered around the ship and started eating. We didn't stop until the flights home. There weren't any shore excursions that first day. For dinner we thought we'd be placed at our assigned tables but it was "free" seating. This meant that the wait staff put everyone at tables as they showed up, but tried to match approximate ages. This worked fabulously in our case and we were put at a table with a "slightly" older couple from Florida (who were so rich we think they owned the entire state), a couple from Vancouver (!), and a couple who had been living in Kentucky (she's American) but had recently moved to Australia (he's australian). We became good friends with the everyone at the table and spent the rest of the cruise together.
Day 2, Pape'ete:
Our shore excursion for today was the Papenoo Valley and Waterfall 4-wheel drive trip. We were taken about halfway around the island, then through the bush to some beautiful waterfalls and lookouts. It was absolutely gorgeous, with black sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters and palm trees everywhere. That night we were seated at our proper table and were about 50 years younger than the other couples. One was a posh British couple and the others were lots of fun. He lived in the UK and she lived in Spain but they were together. It took the posh couple a little while to understand this arragement, and they didn't seem to approve. But it was funny to watch them try to be polite! We met our two waiters who were hilarious and very friendly, and started the nightly ritual of eating way too much. And then ordering dessert.
Day 3, Huahine [Hwah-hee-nee]:
We woke up and were just off the coast of this absolutely gorgeous island. We tendered into port and put on another boat for our shore excursion. We were given a bit of a sightseeing tour of the island from the water by the guide Dolores. She told us a bit about her and a bit about the island, but honestly, nothing speicifically exciting that I remember. They grow a lot of vanilla on the island. We were dropped off on a motu, which is like a small island off the coast of the main islands. The motu form the outside barriers to the ocean and creates the lagoons between them and the main islands. The water is calm, warm, and crystal clear. We were given a (mostly) traditional Polynesian lunch and our picnic tables and chairs were right in the water! There was a bit of Polynesian dancing and of course shell necklaces and pareos (sarongs) for sale. The rest of the afternoon was just spent being lazy in water and taking lots of pictures. I don't remember what the entertainment on the ship that evening was, but it was most likely a cheesy musical dance show.
More cruise to come soon ...