Due to a number of lucky circumstances my husband and I have undertaken seven boat trips in the past eighteen months, varying in length of time from one to ten nights. Our most recent trip ( early October ) was a seven night cruise on the Pacific Princess around the Islands of Tahiti with a guest list of 700 people. We were slightly concerned about traveling on a larger ship as we generally prefer small boat cruising. We had heard stories of impersonal treatment, great long queues, crowding, expensive drinks and frantic activities. All these worries were put to rest from the moment we stepped aboard the Pacific Princess at Papeete.
Our embarkation was prompt and efficient and we were able to have the use of our spacious cabin within an hour of boarding the ship. All the ship’s facilities ( such as food and drink ) were available to us as soon as we boarded the ship.
Our en-suite cabin had plenty of wardrobe and storage space, a queen-sized bed, desk, a comfy chair, video TV and a large window. Also, each cabin had its own safe for storing our valuables. We thought we would miss having a balcony since our room did not have one but in fact we spent so little time in our room that a balcony would actually have been a waste.
All the tickets for our pre-booked excursions were already in our cabin with a variety of orientation sheets and other helpful information. . As many popular excursions are quickly booked out I would recommend that you pre-book, either on-line or with ecruising.com.au. You can cancel or change your mind later, without penalty. If you want to do your own thing some private tour companies operate at each port, we just took the easy option, as often you can waste time haggling and don’t get as good a guide as that provided by the ship’s tour.
At no time were we rushed or hassled. All the shore excursions were well organized, with no bus groups being larger than about thirty-five. In each port we tried a different sort of excursion – from four-wheel driving to helmet diving – we enjoyed them all. I strongly recommend the 4 wheel drive tours – rough at times but great fun. A point to note is that if you book a number of afternoon excursion, try to have the late dinner time, as this gives you time to have a bit of relax before dining.
Lots of return guests — a sure sign of something good
The food on board was varied and well prepared and was available all hours of the day. Two restaurants have a surcharge – The Steak House and Sabitini’s – of $8.00 and $20.00 respectively, well worth it. The steaks were brilliant and the seven course Italian seafood dinner was one of the best I have ever had. Without exception the crew and staff on board were great -you were made to feel like they were only looking after you – not a large number of other guests.
The two formal nights were not as restrictive as we thought they would be and, in fact, we enjoyed getting dressed up. If you don’t want to dress formally there are other places to eat on those nights but most men just wore a sports jacket and tie – very few wore dinner suits.
The use of a credit card key meant that you only had to carry one item to pay for drinks, record getting on and off the ship, shop on board and enter your cabin – a great idea.
Drinks cost about the same as you would pay in an up-market hotel in Australia – from $2.95 ( small ) to $5.75 ( large ), but the large was huge. I became quite addicted to a cocktail called a Long Island Iced Tea – two large drinks of this were enough to melt your back bone. If you like soft drinks Princess Lines have a system whereby you pay a once only fee of $20, a sticker is then placed on your credit card key, and you do not have to pay again for the rest of the trip.
The pool area was never crowded and we could always get a sun lounge or shaded table whenever we went up to relax.
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and are already planning our next cruise with them. Princess Line is obviously doing something right as we have met people who were on their thirteenth 13th and 14th cruise.
I must sign off now as P&O have just sent me the recipe for the Long Island Ice Tea and I have to see if I can make it as well as they did on the ship.
( Note: All prices are in US dollars )