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From Papeete to Ft Lauderdale Cruise

 
 
Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2008 04:48 pm
Well, I just went to the storage shed and pulled out my big suitcase to prepare packing for the 26-day cruise starting on Dec 19. We'll be visiting Moorea, Bora Bora, Pitcairn Island, Easter Island, San Martin, Lima, Quito, Panama Canal, Colon, San Bliss Islands, and Limon before we arrive at Ft Lauderdale.

I think the highlight of this cruise will be Easter Island's stone heads, but who knows? There might be other places with interesting sites, sounds, and food.

It's still two weeks away, but I'm really getting excited about this journey. Maybe it's because I'll be slowing down beginning next year, and I'll be lucky to take two or three trips in 2009.

Keep tuned.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 8,820 • Replies: 86
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wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2008 04:51 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Looking forward to your photos and report, c.i.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Dec, 2008 05:36 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Sounds wonderful..
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2008 12:44 pm
The day has finally arrived for my departure tomorrow morning at 5AM for SFO, then to Los Angeles to catch our flight to Papeete. This is the last trip I have planned which is unusual for me, because by now I usually have three or four in the "oven."

I'm taking my small laptop computer with me, but I'm not sure whether I'll be able to use it on the ship.

Otherwise, I'll see you when I return home on January 14.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Dec, 2008 10:03 pm
We spent our first half day in Moorea by renting a car and driving all around the island. It's really beautiful here; the strange shapes of the rocks with all the surrounding lush greenery with the turquoise sea is just breathtaking. We're now on our way to Bora Bora, and will be spending another half day on that island by renting a car and driving around on our own. It provides us the freedom to stop at any site, and spend as much time as we wish at the sites and restaurant/bars. We sat with a young couple from New Zealand at one of those restaurant/bars with the most spectacular scenery today; they're headed to PA after three days in Moorea. The ship, Tahitian Princess is similar to the Oceania Cruiseline ships, with some minor modifications. The food on board has been very good so far, and the drinks are not as expensive as on the Oceania ships. I'll try to write every other day while on this cruise, because I get some free internet time as a "regular" customer of Princess.

Till later.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Dec, 2008 06:17 pm
@cicerone imposter,
We're now anchored off of Bora Bora, and had to be tendered into town. It's a very small island which James Mitchener called the most beautiful in the world. Our local driver told us that Eddie Murphy owns some property here. The US navy was based here as a major refueling base during WWII. I don't understand why, but most things here are very expensive. My roommate and I were going to rent a car, but they want US$118 for two hours, so we shared a taxi with five others at $35 pp for a 2.5 hour tour of the island. I guess my pictures will speak for Bora Bora when I get them posted when I get home.

Till our next port, Pitcairn Island, I'll say sayonara.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 01:41 pm
@cicerone imposter,

we now have 3 cruize days ahead of us on our way to Pitcairn Island.
the water is as smooth as it can be, and the scenery outside is beautiful with dark blue sea and clouds as far as the eye can see. Tonight is the captain's reception and formal dinner.

there are many on this ship from all over the world with many from the UK and France.

last night's show by Duncan Tuck was excellent; he sings, plays the guitar, and tells jokes. It was first class entertainment, so I purchased his CD to record on my MP3 when I get home.

sayonara for now.
0 Replies
 
alex240101
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 02:21 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Closing eyes. Trying to tune out the noise of the blowing wind. The twenty two inches of snow that is less than eight feet from the office window, is a distant memory..........."yes, thank you, I would like a refill............"where is the sunscreen?"..........

How many days? Twenty something...Oh boy, what a blast. I would like to see the Moai statues of Rapa Nui.
Have a safe trip,
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 03:40 pm
@alex240101,
Hi alex, Yes, the rock face on Easter Island seems to be one of the major attractions for many on this 26-day cruise. Some are leaving the ship to tour Machu Picchu for a couple of days, then return to the ship at another port. One lady said she paid $2,700 for this optional tour.
We're now on our second full day of sailing of a three day sea days for our next port stop, the Pitcairn Island.
I'm really impressed with the food, staff, and entertainment on this ship. My roommate who is married to a Philippino has made friends with most of the Philippino staff on this ship by giving them gifts of postcards, hats, and pins. I think he's their favorite passenger.

Will leave until another day; they charge an arm and a leg for internet service aboard cruses.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 06:22 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Hello Fans from Pitcairn Island. We only anchored off of the island to have some of their citizens come on the ship to sell their wares and t-shirts for about an hour and a half. We then had a Q&A where a citizen provided us some info on the island. They have only 60 inhabitants and ten children. They have one "qualified" medical doctor, but they also get passing ships to take patients to New Zealand for serious treatments. I'll post pictures of the island when I return home.

As most of you know, Pitcairn Island was made famous by Marlon Brando on the Mutiny on the Bounty where some of the men mutineed and stayed on the island with the Tahitian women. They were never found, because the captain of another ship placed the location of the island at the wrong longitude/latitude, and they were never penalized for their mutiny.

Just purchased a Pitcairn Island t-shirt made in China for $15.

Bye till next time.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Jan, 2009 08:29 am
@cicerone imposter,
We are now on the 4th day of crusing from Easter Island to Peru. This will probably be my "last" post from the ship, because I want to edit what I wrote about Easter Island at home before posting it here. Last nite's dinner was fantastic; crab appetizer and two lobster tails for dinner. See you all when I get home.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jan, 2009 10:38 am
@cicerone imposter,
We are now at port in Callao for the second day, but will be leaving here at 1pm. We took a bus shuttle into Lima yesterday, and spent time in one of the largest mercado in my life in Callao; it has everything! We're heading northword towards Panama. Will write more details when I get home on the 14th. chou
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 04:11 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Hello fans on a2k. This is our last port stop, Limon, Costa Rica. My roommate, Greg, and I did tours on our own, and saved a bundle of money. We did the canopy ride, a visit to the banana factory, a one hour boat cruise, and a short tour of downtown Limon. You're going to love the pictures from the trip, and promise to provide some really interesting information when I return home on the 14th. See all of you on the 14th or 15th.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 11:16 am
@cicerone imposter,
This is our third and last cruising day before we arrive at Ft Lauderdale tomorrow morning. It's been a ball with fascinating ports of call, interesting people, and good food. See you'll tomorrow after I get home around 7pm.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 11:18 am
@cicerone imposter,
My god, it's a tough life for you and Mrs. CI!

Hope you're enjoying yourself.

Cheers
Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Jan, 2009 11:23 am
@cicerone imposter,
Have a nice and safe trip home!
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Jan, 2009 08:57 am
Hi Cyclo and Walter, I'm now waiting at the Ft Lauderdale airport to catch our flt to Dallas-Ft Worth at 11:25am, and it's now 10:53.

This cruise was very special because of the places we visited that included the Tahitian islands, Pitcairn (no landing, but their citizens came on board to tell us about their life and to sell us their goods), Easter Island, the Panama Canal, and San Blas.

I've taken over 1000 photographs, and I'm pretty sure at least 10 to 15% of them are good enough to post on my travelogue. he he he...

See you all in a few days; it's going to be a "long" one.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 04:37 pm
@cicerone imposter,
And away we go! Here's the first part of my travelogue with some pictures. However, I'm using another photo share site, because the "revised" photobucket is too confusing to use.

The summarized itinerary of our 26-day cruise from December 19, 2008, until January 14, 2009:

Some stats on the Tahitian Princess:
This is the same ship that Oceania Cruise uses with the same floor plan. It holds about 680 passengers, and moves at about 18 knots (about 20.7 mph). When this cruise went on sale, it sold out, but when the economy started to tank, many people canceled. We had only 618 passengers for this cruise. They have open seating for breakfast and lunch, but fixed seating for dinner at 6:15 and 8:15. We sat at a table for eight. There are two alternative restaurants; a steakhouse that charges a $15 fee (where we had dinner three times), and an Italian restaurant also charges a $15 fee (never tried it), plus the buffet that is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night snack. They also have an open grill on deck 9 where you can order hamburger, hot dog or sausage. The quality and variety of food offered was excellent, and one can order as many dishes as one pleases. Greg, my roommate, ate seven lobsters for dinner in one sitting. All the kitchen and dining room staff numbers around 150, and the people consumes about four tons of food every day. There is a small swimming pool on the 9th deck with two jacuzzi pools (where I have spent a few hours on several occasions when the weather was hot). I also spent time in the gym to ride the stationary bike a handful of times and was able to reach burning 200 calories in 30 minutes. When we booked this cruise, we were assigned stateroom 6041 which is an outside stateroom, but blocked view from the tenders. However, when we arrived at the ship in Papeete, we got stateroom 6051 with a balcony. There are ten levels on the ship, but passenger staterooms start on the 3rd deck.

The staff on the ship comes from around the globe, but the majority from the Philippines. There are a few from the US, Balkans, India and Europe. Many staff work 14-hour days. The dancers and singers on the ship was medeocre, but most of the professionals were above average to excellent. Duncan Tuck, a guitar player-singer was one of the best. I even purchased one of his CDs. The best show (in my opinion) was the cultural show put on by Peruvians when we were in port of Callao.

All alcoholic and soft drinks have an additional “service” charge of 15% added to the bill. They also charge for special coffees such as cappuccino and espresso. Beers cost about $5, house wine $6.33, and vodka martini $8.91. Most mixed drinks sell for $6.75 to $7.75 plus the 15%.

The cruise line adds $10.50 per day ($273 for 26 days) per passenger for staff tips, but this is “optional.”

This is the first Panama Canal transit for the Tahitian Princess, and the first time cruising the Atlantic Ocean since its inaugural cruise nine years ago. They will be changing the name of the ship to Ocean Princess before they begin their world cruise this year.
***********************************************************************************
Our first travel day wasn't too bad compared to many who came from the mid-west and East Coast of the US. We had about fifty percent British with the other half made up of Americans, Australians, Canadians, Panamanians, and a few others from other countries.

When we landed at the Papeete airport at 7:30PM, and after processing through customs, collecting our luggage, and getting on the bus, we arrived at the ship at 8:30PM. After a quick check into our stateroom on deck 6, we went down to the dining room (on deck 5) for our first meal on the ship.

The places we had port of calls or anchored were Moorea, Bora Bora, 3-days at sea, Pitcairn Island (anchored only), 2-days at sea, Easter Island, 4-days at sea, San Martin, Peru; Callao (Lima), 1-day at sea, Manta, Ecuador; 1-day at sea; Panama Canal and Colon; San Blas Island; Limon, Costa Rica, 3-days at sea, then Ft Lauderdale and our flight home.

Dec 20, Moorea: Greg and I rented an Avis car to drive ourselves around the one-road island for $74 after we tendered in from the boat to the northern village of Papetoai. We invited a lady from York, England (we were seat mates on the flight from Los Angeles to Papeete), to join us, and she did. The language is French and Tahitian, but many speak English " especially in the tourist areas. Although the currency is French Pacific Francs, most business also accept US dollars. The island is shaped like an isosceles triangle with two mountain ranges. The one word that describes Moorea is “beautiful.” It's lush green landscape with the turquoise water surrounding it is this side of paradise, and the clouds added to the beauty.

As we left the port area, we drove clock-wise around the island. Our first stop was Belvedere Mountain to get an excellent view of the harbor, then on the way back to the main road, we stopped at a location where the natives used to make human sacrifice. We stopped at a location where we saw a bus tour, and do we also stopped and saw what they were looking at. A group of bungalows that sits on the water they rent out at $300 to $500 a night. In addition to the beautiful sites, we stopped at a beach front restaurant-bar for drinks where we sat with a young couple from New Zealand on their way to PA for the holidays to visit with the wife's family. We sat at a table under the shade of a tree to enjoy the expanse of turquoise water with a long stretch of white sand beach with mountains in the background. We also stopped at a Catholic church for some picture-taking. A bus tour group also stopped to visit. At $33 each for Greg and I for the car rental and fuel, it was a bargain.

Arriving at Moorea.
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Belvedere Mountain.
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Sacred site where they performed human sacrifice.
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Bungalows on water.
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Catholic church.
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Rest stop for refreshments.
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Nice talking to a couple from New Zealand.
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Bye bye to Moorea.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 07:37 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Dec 21, Bora Bora: We were planning to do the same on Bora Bora, but the Avis car rental place wanted to charge $118 for two hours. We took the $35 van tour of the island instead. We learned very quickly that Bora Bora is an expensive place to visit and live. In addition to the picture taking stops, we visited a place where they were demonstrating the batik design Polynesian moomoo, and the sale of the local crafts of wood sculptures and necklaces. We also had a stop at a new resort hotel, Sofitel Motu, with both over water bungalows as well as those on land adjacent to the white sand beach. The place looked empty of customers. The shops close to the pier seemed busy for a place where everything was over-priced.

Approach to Bora Bora
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Map of Bora Bora.
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Sofitel Motu Resort Hotel.
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Tahitian Princess anchored off the island.
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Bye bye Bora Bora.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jan, 2009 07:47 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Dec 25, anchored off of Pitcairn Island: Rather than the people on the boat to visit the island, the citizens (all 48 of them except the ten children) of Pitcairn Island visited us on the boat. Since this was the Tahitian Princess' first contact with the island, the captain of our ship gave a plaque to the mayor of Pitcairn. One of their citizens provided us with some information about life on Pitcairn, followed by a Q&A period. They have one doctor on the island, but many are treated by ship's doctors or transferred to New Zealand for major health problems. They purchase many food stuffs from cruise ships in addition to their own gardens and fishing. Some of us wondered if the remaining inhabitants were related to each other. Some believe the first inhabitants of Pitcairn arrived about 3500 years ago.

As most people are aware, Pitcairn is famous for the HMS Bounty, Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian; the mutiny and the following desertion by many of the sailors. The story goes that the navigator who posted the position of the island made a mistake, and nobody was able to find the deserted men. Others who remained on the ship were persecuted by the government.

Here's an interesting story about one individual who sailed on this cruise for a purpose connected to Pitcairn Island. When he was 14 years old, he made contact with a gentleman on Pitcairn Island by ham radio " some 65 years ago, and they have kept in contact ever since. Although we were unable to set foot on Pitcairn, the ham radio man came on board to meet his old ham “friend” from the US. They're both in their eighties now which must be some kind of record in the ham radio world. But the real “zinger” about this story is that the ham radio guy's name on Pitcairn island is “Christian.”

Approach to Pitcairn Island.
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Captain Ravera giving a plaque to the mayor of Pitcairn Island.
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The next post will be on Easter Island.
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