Monday, March 12, 2007
Goodbye New Zealand, hello Tahiti! Today, March 7th, we left Auckland at 2:15 PM New Zealand time and arrived in Papeete about 8:00 PM Tahiti time on March 6th. We got back the day that we lost when we crossed the international date line on our way to Auckland. It was about 84 degrees and humid when we landed, so it is much warmer than New Zealand. We checked into the Radisson Plaza Resort Hotel and have a room with a balcony overlooking the ocean. It was dark when we arrived so we couldn’t see the surf but could hear it. Wednesday, March 7th, was another very warm day. We enjoyed the beautiful grounds at the Radisson in the morning. The ocean is dangerous here with huge waves, so the hotel has a man-made sand beach near the pool, and the pool appears to blend right into the ocean. You walk into the pool just as if you were walking into the South Pacific. We took a cab to the port and embarked on the Tahitian Princess. It is the smallest cruise ship we’ve been on, with a capacity of about 680 passengers and a slightly smaller crew. There is no huge atrium or grand staircase, and since this is French Polynesia, the ship is decorated with a French decor. The staterooms, however, look the same as on any other cruise ship. We have a balcony about the size of ours at Grant Park. We didn’t have an assigned table for dinner last night, and sat with a couple from Singapore, another from Canada, and a couple from Switzerland who didn’t say a word to the rest of us throughout dinner. Tonight there was a Tahitian show in the cabaret lounge. We were amazed again at how Polynesian dancers can move their hips (most of the pictures were blurry because of the motion)! We spent last night in port, and this afternoon, March 8th, we went on a tour of Papeete. Along the way we saw a beautiful waterfall, the cove where Captain Bligh anchored (and where the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando was filmed), and a lighthouse that was designed by the father of Robert Louis Stevenson. We were on an air-conditioned bus and were grateful for that, as the temperature was about 90 degrees and humid. About half the population of French Polynesia lives in Papeete, so the town gets snarled with traffic. Prices are very high, as almost everything has to be imported. A franc, the unit of currency here, is equal to about a penny, so a 1,000 franc note is only worth about $10. The ship set sail about 5:00 PM so we had to get our sea legs this evening. We enjoyed dinner at our table with three other couples from the U.S.; one from Connecticut, another from New Mexico and the third from California. We had a good time and are looking forward to enjoying their company throughout the cruise. On Friday, March 9th, we anchored in a bay surrounded by the two islands comprising Huahine and tendered ashore for our excursion. We spent the morning with Paul, an archaeologist from the U.S. who has been studying Huahine and living there for some time. He told us much of the interesting history of Huahine and French Polynesia in general. He was educated in the anthropology of the area, so his talks were most informative. He took us, via Le Truck (a Mercedes Benz), to Maeva Village, where we saw a temple that has been restored. We walked to a vanilla farm and were told that because there are no bees, each blossom has to be pollenated by hand, so please don’t touch the costly plant! The vanilla grown here is very expensive and sells in the U.S. and in Europe for about $7 a bean. We also saw some blue-eyed eels. For dinner tonight we had escargot, French onion soup and delicious fish. The food has been quite good and we will probably gain some weight, as the heat and humidity discourage us from walking and getting exercise on the decks around the ship. Because the ship is so small, it has been easy to figure out where we’re going. All the important things (dining room, show lounge and casino) are on deck 5 and our cabin is on deck 7, so it’s a short trip most of the time. Saturday, March 10th, was a day at sea on our way to the island of Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands. The weather became very windy and rainy in the afternoon, and the ship was really rocking from side to side. It was formal night, so everyone was dressed in their finery. The rough seas continued, and passengers were staggering around the ship like they were drunk. Surprisingly, they did not cancel the production show featuring the singers and dancers. They did not seem to miss a high kick while the rest of us could barely walk. After a good night’s sleep in our “rocking” cabin, they announced around 8:30 on Sunday morning, March 11th, that the winds were too strong for the tenders to operate, so we would not be able to go ashore on Rarotonga. The captain turned the ship around and headed for our next stop of Raiatea, which is part of French Polynesia. The ship is still rocking, but the captain said the six foot swells are nothing compared to the waves yesterday and last night.
Monday, March 12th was another day at sea. We attended a culinary demonstration in the morning, and the French chef and Italian Maitre D were surprisingly funny. A wine-tasting event was held in the afternoon and the evening show featured a comedian who kept everyone in stitches. We arrived in Raiatea about 8:30 PM and will now try to publish this site. They do have wireless on the ship, but we didn’t have any success publishing the other day. We hope we have more luck now that the ship is stationery.
View from Radisson Hotel
Beach at Radisson Hotel
Tahitian folkloric group "Te Maeve"
300 meter waterfall
Huahine - Archaeologist Paul and our group
Huahine - Maeva Village temple Paul and our group
Huahine - museum in village
Huahine - Le Truck
Huahine - Paul feeding blue-eyed eels
Huahine - Tahitian Princess from Belevedere Lookout
At sea for three days
New crew member coming aboard
Rarotonga - the island we missed
© Jay Deitch 2020