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Review- PG 7 Night Society Islands Oct 2012

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Day 7 Oct 10 Bora Bora


Bora Bora 2 Ia Orana









We awake and head to breakfast at Le Grille, only to find its pouring rain, and we can't cross the open pool deck with out getting soaked. DH gets the umbrella from the room and then we breach the monsoon! Breakfast under the canvas while it pours is an interesting experience, but we chat with other guests and wonder if it will stop before the early tours. We have booked the Bora Bora Off Road Adventure. excursion this morning at 9 AM.

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The rain cleared and we took the 8:30 AM tender and had time to shop for a few trinkets at the craft market for our girls. The 9 AM tender comes in and all our fellow "Off Road Adventure" travelers arrive and we go to the land rovers. We are joined on our truck by Diane and Lon and Heather and Anthony.


(Frank, Heather and Anthony, Diane and Lon, Jeff and Kathy)






Our driver is Frank, an older guy who insists it's his "first day" on the job. He turns out to be a real character telling silly jokes like "this is a hibiscus, the flower that looks like this at the bottom of the mountain is a " low" biscus". But he's a wonderful host who knows the history and flora of the area. We are 6 to a rover- We all get along great and have a lot of laughs and bond during the more death defying off road maneuvers.









We drive all the way around the island, taking 3 very rough off road (trails) straight up to ascend to incredible look outs over the island and lagoon. It was an E ticket ride and lots of fun! Especially after the heavy rains make some really fun mud!


First lookout:

This is the spot American troops used as a lookout during WW2. They left a lot of things behind, including an Army Jeep our guide has. He inherited from his dad who was given the jeep by service men leaving the island. He says he still has it running!















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We stopped at the pearl farm, which had a wonderful series of descriptive exhibits to explain just how pearls are cultured in this part of the world. There is a show room, where we run into Nikki and Jamie doing a little shopping for pearl earrings that they can pick up later in the day. This is common here at all the shops. At the Tahitian pearl in town the shop was full of people buying loose pearls and designing their own jewelry. I don't see anything that appeals to me here, so we move on, but not until I've had my photo with Bob.


(pearl farm)












We continue on with a stop to the public beach, and around the rest of the island where Frank continues to share his knowledge and corny jokes with us.


It was a great tour which ends with us picking up his adorable pre teen granddaughter at the middle school a 1/2 mile from town and he then leaves us back at the tender dock and the main town. Others on other jeeps later describe stopping somewhere in the mountains where there were local artists with their work displayed, but we did not make this stop.

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DH and I decide to stop at the pearl shops in town before taking the tender back.


(Pearl shops in Bora Bora)






We stopped into Nycos Pearls where the help was very friendly and while they had some very nice high end strands (3-20 thousand USD) They also had displays of pieces displayed by "budget" ; a $250 display, a $500 display etc. These were more likely single pearls of poorer quality with cheaper metals. This could be useful for people looking for pearls on a budget, as you can see right away what's in your budget.


I fear pearls are one of those items I would fall in love with here for their beauty but have no need or interest in wearing once I get home. I'm sure the pareos I bought will be the same way, but I only invested 3000 FPF ( 30 dollars) in them! So far I had not seen anything that appeals to me and my casual style.


There is a shop here filled with loose pearls called Tahitian Pearl. It's jam packed with folks choosing pearls and designing their own pieces. I am not much of a shopper and even less good at design, so we give this idea a pass.


We then visit the Tahia Collins shop. I had admired her designs on line before we left. They feel simple and unfussy to me. I walk in and look around feeling much the same about the pearl jewelry there as other shops; beautiful, but nothing that in the words of Emdee on these boards " winks at me". Then I get to one of the last cases and I see it...calling to me- a pair of unusual drop earrings set on a sterling silver earring with a single small black pearl on each. I've not seen anything like these and immediately I know I love them and that I will wear them often!


Fortunately, although they are a grade A and a grade B pearl, they are well balanced, a greenish color that matches my eyes and at a price I can accept (after asking for the sales lady's best price and getting a few percentage points off). I've been adding more silver to my accessories over the last 2 years and needed some silver earrings. These are perfect, it's our anniversary day, so DH thinks he should get them for me as a memento of our anniversary trip. In the end, I'm not a jewelry designer, and Tahia has decided what works best with these particular pearls, something, I myself could not do in the Tahitian Pearl like I saw others doing!


We have just enough time for me to pick up a couple of shell bracelets and craft pearl necklaces for my DD's at the craft market. These are no more than $10-50 per piece and are fun for a casual look, but the quality of the pearls are nothing like the jewelry shops. Frank explained that only about 10 % of the cultured pearls are usable as "gems", so that leaves a huge glut of inferior pearls for folks to craft into fun, funky jewelry to bring home as gifts for younger children or friends!


I also see a hand painted shell Christmas ornament, and since this is what we usually bring home as a souvenir. I buy one of those. and 3 pareos for myself and my daughters. After our 1 hour power shop, I've had about as much shopping as I can take, so we catch the tender back to the ship.

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When we return to the ship we go to la Verandah for lunch. Then we go to our cabin to Face Time our kids on the East Coast, so they can wish us a happy anniversary.


TIPS: Onboard Internet


- We purchased the largest package (250 Minutes) and used our ipads to check email for any emergency messages, Face Time our children back at home, and post one "ipad" photo from our balcony onto Face Book every day. We ended up having 60 minutes left; most likely because our home internet wasn't allowing Face Time to connect and we weren't able to make that work till half way through our cruise. I think this package would have been perfect for what we needed.


-We left our devices on airplane mode when on board.


-when we were ready to connect we turned the airplane mode "off"


-we selected the ships Wifi under "settings" on our device


-we went to Safari web browser and followed the instructions that pop up.


-we then accessed our email client and allowed the messages to download, I would delete the garbage while that was happening to save time and only download the important ones. Also, on the newest i devices you can select certain people to be priority, this helped me see quickly if there was a message from the kids or our parents. Once it appeared the critical ones had downloaded...


-Then we would disconnect, DH set up a "log out .com page" so we could end our sessions quickly. When you log out you'll get a message telling you how many minutes you have left.


-You must log out otherwise your minutes are still counting down even while your device is not on.


-Then I would read and reply to my emails off line and reconnect and let anything we needed to send "send", then log out again. This way you aren't using minutes to write your messages.


-We found that we couldn't get a very strong wifi signal on our bed, or at the desk, we had ot be sitting on our couch. Check how many bars you get all around your cabin and pick the best place.


- the only sanfu we hit was for some reason, on the ipads- once you connect and get the "connected" screen, we had to go back to settings and select the ships wifi again, only after that would it actually connect with our devices and download and upload data.


We had good luck with the internet here, it was pretty speedy if you don't try to down load or upload too many big things. We found it best first thing in the morning before most people were awake, and it was slowest at 8:30-10 in the morning and 3-5 in the afternoon, when most people are trying to use it to contact folks back East. Late night was also good, if you don't need to reach anyone live.

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Bora Bora Motu


Even though the weather was looking a little threatening with some serious black clouds we decide to go out to BB Motu just to check it out. It's lovely, though there are no facilities here other than a bar. The sand is that perfect white sand you think of when you think tropical island and there are palm trees dotted on the shore. The kayaks are available but the "area" to use them that day was so small because of the strong current. Really , you could only paddle 3-4 strokes in one direction and then turn, so we didn't bother.


(kayaks on the motu)





palm tree




(signs show where the PG beach ends





We brought our snorkel equipment with us and were warned that the current was really picking up out by the rope line where the coral was. Well, it was so strong that you could not even pause to see anything, not that there was much to see. There were a few coral heads and a couple of fish trying desperately to feed near them. But the current was much too strong to enjoy the snorkeling when you are just blowing by everything.


Both DH and I are very strong swimmers who were life guards in our younger days. At one point we got swept along so strongly, we had to use all our "lifesaving" techniques just to get back on shore! (swim diagonally, and not directly against the current) I noticed shortly after we returned to the shore that the staff person brought the motorized panaga out to the rope line so that anyone else going out there would have a rescue if needed.


The menacing cloud appeared to be moving closer and with zero protection out on the beach and the tenders running 40 minutes or more due to the rough seas, we decided to bail on the next tender, rather than get stuck there another hour. We had loads of company! I'm sure the BB motu would have been more appealing with better weather and better snorkeling. We are not big fans of fine sand anyway, being from the rocky coast of Maine, so maybe we didn't have the best impression.

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When we returned we checked in with Fernando at travel concierge, who luckily, still had enough time to arrange for our bicycles in Moorea.


We did enjoy the sail away from Bora Bora from our balcony at 5 PM.






Tonight we had dinner at La Verandah to celebrate our anniversary. La Verandah has 2 menus; the ships menu and a special menu designed by the chef from Apricius, a Michelin 3 star restaurant. You have the option to select either or mix and match, as we decided to do. We chose mains from the Verandah menu and some appetizers from the Apricius menu








( don't mind DH's eyes- he says he doesn't like to be in front of the camera; I think he's just in shock that he's still married to me 25 years later!;-)


(also, in this photo I am wearing my anniversary earrings- they are tough to see, I'll look for a closer one!)



(Grilled Tenderloin)






(Grilled Shrimp)




(every dessert comes with a little plate of bites- I didn't have room, but brought the plate back to our room to enjoy later!)





Overall the food was excellent here. My DH is usually a "food for fuel" sort of guy and originally we didn't think we'd eat here, but I'm glad we did! The ambiance is gorgeous at night; candle lit, with the window blinds pulled to create a cozy atmosphere. Service was excellent as always and much quicker than we anticipated!


Even though we saw empty tables, we did hear from friends that they could not get a reservation that evening because there was a wait list. So they must plan it so the kitchen can manage properly vs the number of tables in the room.



We also check our photos in the photo gallery, and chat with other passengers outside the casino and Piano bar. We do catch Krew Kapers at 10:00 in the Grand Salon- the kids on the ship are pretty talented and certainly have a lot of energy for young folks who have worked so hard all day! We enjoyed this more than we expected to, and were able to tell our cabin attendant, April, that we saw her on stage!


( more to come tomorrow... Moorea and then the sad part!)

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This is such a great review with tons of info especially the internet stuff.


I'm thinking it's entirely too much stuff:o But these are the questions I was asking before I sailed- these were the details I wanted to know. So I'm just paying it forward. With the storm here, and spotty power and internet, I am finding it hard to get it done. Normally, I like it all written and I just paste it in, but because of the unexpected guests and gusts;), I'm writing as I go. I ahve to work tomorrow and we are going out of town over the weekend, so I have to push through;)

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You are doing an absolutely phenomenal review Family. I appreciate so much all the detail and the amount of time and effort you are taking to organize it. Many Thanks, Donna

You are kind, Donna! It has taken a bit of time...yikes, all the fits and starts with the power and internet interruptions! The big job is the photos and DH does that, so I owe him the credit!

Yes, like a good book that I don't want to end!


Question - did I read somewhere in here about a Polynesian dinner night? If so, what restaurant was recommended for that?

Thanks! Report on Polynesian Night coming tomorrow!! First night in Moorea! It was great and the best part is that all 3 restaurants have the same menu, so you can choose. We chose L'Etoile just because its festive and boisterous anyway!! You'll see in my notes that they really do it up, it's not just the menu!!

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Our first official stop is sharks!!


(black tip sharks)














(lemon sharks were huge, 6- 8 feet, luckily they stayed low, or I might have been a bit nervous!)







Even the "sucker fish" attached to it on the bottom was pretty good sized!




(Patrick's guys free diving)





I just ventured to this part of CC for the first time and I this thread!!! Great pictures! Diving with sharks must of been amazing, those lemon sharks can be very aggressive, good thing they stayed down there.


Thanks for sharing your adventure

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I just ventured to this part of CC for the first time and I this thread!!! Great pictures! Diving with sharks must of been amazing, those lemon sharks can be very aggressive, good thing they stayed down there.


Thanks for sharing your adventure


Thanks!! Patrick told us they only eat carrion (dead stuff) yeah, right:rolleyes: i think he said it just because Chelsea was terrified to swim with them...but she did it!! And we were all so proud of her!:D

I did feel a little creeped out by the size of them:eek:; but I'm glad I didn't know about them being aggressive because I'm a scaredy cat at heart!

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Since you are so great with the info can you tell me if someone is available in the Internet cafe to help set up your account?

I don't know we never used it! But we never saw a staff person in there. But There might have been the first day. The instructions are pretty clear I've reposted the photo of them. I think if you follow the steps, it's pretty simple! And Im sure if you have an issue you could stop at reception to get some advice.




Deck 6


(entrance to La Verandah and the Fare Tahiti exhibit)




Thanks for the photo of the Fare Tahiti! This is above our room and we were looking for a photo of this area!


Yes, I remember your question...I was the idiot who thought the internet cafe was there:rolleyes: But this spot is v quiet, the corridor on 5 by L'Etoile and the bars (and the internet cafe) is busier. But honestly, the whole place is so quiet anyway and I think you will be fine! Maybe if you were trying sleep right below the Tahitian dancers and drummers in Le Grand Salon, you might hear some noise, but again, for maybe 45 minutes at 9 at night...overall it's very peaceful!!

Edited by Familygoboston
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Thanks!! Patrick told us they only eat carrion (dead stuff) yeah, right:rolleyes: i think he said it just because Chelsea was terrified to swim with them...but she did it!! And we were all so proud of her!:D

I did feel a little creeped out by the size of them:eek:; but I'm glad I didn't know about them being aggressive because I'm a scaredy cat at heart!


how long were the black tips?

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Day 8 Oct 11 Moorea


Moorea Ia Orana








We are anchored with starboard side looking at Moorea, in Opunohu Bay. Tenders leave from starboard side, so we hear the noise of launching them at 8:30 AM, but we are already awake.


We have breakfast at La verandah, now that we've discovered it, it's become our favorite place!


(Moorea map- so you don't need to scroll back so far, you can see my little "ship" arrow on it)



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how long were the black tips?


They ranged from about 3 feet to 5 feet from snout to their little black tip tails. They swam around us and at the same level, but none of them ever got aggressive. I would imagine that sharks this size would not "go after" a human as food, but rather if they felt threatened or were competing for food. They seemed quite habituated to people (probably due to daily visits by them on their reef and now they just don't see us as threatening!) If thats not true, please do not disabuse me of my myth:eek:;):p

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This one is a lot of words;)


Unfortunately, a lot of things went wrong for us in during the 2 days in Moorea. None of it was anyone's fault, but the whole situation turned Moorea into the most disappointing part of our trip. That seems like a shame because most of the reviews I read, everyone loves Moorea best!


Here's what happened over the 2 days, then I'll share what we did do each day! (this is the wordy part)


First, I decided after all my research there were two ships excursions we really wanted to do and made them my top priority. The first was the Dolphin and Whale Watching Expedition with Dr Michael Poole. DH and I have traveled all over the globe in pursuit of unique wildlife experiences, it's one of the things we love to do. This trip was a top priority because it included the opportunity to see these animals with a local (and we later learned, apparently, world renowned expert), so we booked it back in May. We had also heard that Trails of the Ancients with Mark Eddows, was also an excellent excursion, we love to hike and after hearing him speak, we knew that what we heard was probably true too! So we signed up in May for that one on the other day in Moorea.


So you know that when we arrived onboard, we learned that Mark had a dig/restoration project planned on the same day his tour was scheduled. That meant that both men would be offering their tours the same day with some time overlap, so we had to choose. We did choose Dolphin and Whales, just because we have a far greater interest in natural history, and though it could not be helped, we were disappointed.


On our first day in Moorea the weather was very unsettled with showers and rough waters. We had a great day on our bikes...as I'll show you below, but during Michael's talk he was clear that if the weather didn't improve, we could expect cancellation or limits on the number of people he could take out.


Unfortunately, the next day was even wetter and rougher. We tendered over to the pier in the morning to see if the weather would clear and we could proceed that morning. As it turned out, half the group decided they would not go, even if the weather improved. Several of we heartier souls stood under the shelter in the pouring rain, at the pier with Dr Poole and he held an impromptu Q & A while we waited for the weather to improve.


But soon it became apparent that the weather would not improve enough to go. We went back to the ship and hoped to sign up for the afternoon tour, but it was already full. We were able to sign up for the afternoon Trail of the Ancients Trek, hoping to salvage the day.


Unfortunately, by 11 AM, pretty much all the tours were cancelled, including the Trek and the afternoon Dolphin and Whale Expedition. By 2 PM the sun was out and shining brilliantly, probably the seas were still too rough and the trails too wet to have run the tours, but it created this weird "pseudo sea day" where nearly every passenger (expect a few on a very wet and miserable ATV tour) was on the ship. Considering it was the last day of the cruise, it was a huge let down. We made the best of it of course, taking lots of pictures for this review (lucky you!) and hanging by the pool, socializing with new friends.


So that's our tail of woe- "first world problem" as my teens would say :rolleyes: It certainly didn't ruin our trip, but for us these were the things we were most looking forward too! Luckily, so much of the rest of the cruise (our fellow passengers, entertainment, beauty of the place and cultural experiences) exceeded our expectations, so that in the end, we had an amazing trip!


So you ask..."what DID you do?"

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So here is what we DID!


Day 8 Oct 11 Moorea


We took the tender to Moorea

(Moorea tender pier)






We arrived at about 9:30 AM and Fernando told us to meet the bike guy in the parking lot by the pier at 10 AM. He told us he would be driving a white van. For the next 45 minutes, only white vans pulled into the parking lot! Lot's of white vans! None of them was bike guy, and scooter guy- a few friends booked scooters and were expecting the same guy/same van with their scooters. He was about 15 minutes late (island time) because of a customer at the main office, so we shopped the craft market while we waited.



(craft vendors)








note the white van! note the white van behind the white van...imagine many more white vans- all not the bike/scooter guy!




Once the bike guy arrived, we showed him some ID, signed our waivers, handed over cash for the 4 hour rental and we were off. The bike guy didn't give us any kind of map or directions. But the bikes were in decent condition. No helmets, which for a scaredy cat like me was a little unnerving.


We did bring our own annotated map. I had grilled Fernando about where everything was and made notes, because I am hopeless with maps and directions. I'm sure Fernando thought I was a complete idiot, because it would be hard to get lost on any of these islands. One reason for this is that as we rode around the bays, the ship was always in view (sort of the way the moon follows you around!) The other reason is (duh) it's an island, so you really can't get "lost". In a car or scooter, that might even be kinda fun! However it might not be so much fun pedaling miles out of our way, and this was what I was trying to avoid!


We decided to bike to marae, the belvedere (overlook) and the agricultural school, then go down to the public beach and have a little picnic before biking back to the ship. With just 4 hours rental we knew we would probably not make it all the way into the main shopping area- Maharepa, and didn't want to spend the money at one of the hotel beaches. (The Hilton had been recommended- though most recently Trend reported that it is to have the pool under construction and not open for day use)


So below is a little photo tour of our bike tour...I'll refer to the map above so if you are directionally challenged like I am, you can see where we were!


So we head out (our starting point was on the Opunohu Bay) we see this...


(horse by the road)






Our scooter friends quickly catch up to us and pose on the way by...


(friends on scooters)






Although we didn't have "follow" van support for this tour, nearly every passenger on the PG passed us in either their rental car, bus tour, scooter, walkers or wheel chairs (ok, not those last two!). Everyone stopped and asked how we were doing, asked if we needed a ride up (as we were madly pedaling up to the Belvedere) or a ride down (as we rode down from the Belvedere in the pouring rain). So we felt very supported despite the fact that we were on our own with just a phone number for the rental shop (did I mention we didn't have a cell phone?)


Here I am, with some spectacular scenery of Mt Rotui in the background! (it wasn't labeled from here, but I'm using my superior map reading skills!)



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We start up the road at 2 on the map, and pass the Agricultural School. About midway on that road and not marked are the marae on the left. You will see signs, so you can't miss them. The first part is fairly flat, but then the hills start!!


Unfortunately, DH is 6 foot 6 inches tall, fortunately at home he has a customized bike, unfortunately, when we rent bikes, they are almost always designed for people about 5 foot 9, and maybe go all the way up to say 5 foot 10. SO when we rent bikes he looks like one of those circus clowns riding a kids bike. Now, My DH is a wonderful guy, with amazing self confidence, who never minds looking like a circus clown. But he did mind very much that he could barely get any power for this climb due to biking with his knees in his chest. So about 1/2 way to the summit, I suggest it might be time for a rest.


So we stopped and see...Mark Eddow's project at the Marae Titiroa. (this is about 2/3 the way along the road between #2 and #1 on the map) You can hike through here and we can see the trails where Mark likely leads his trek to the other marae further in the woods.


(Workers at project restoring the marae)











(later in the day we learn from Mark that this view allowed the Polynesians to face their gods, which is why the marae are built with the mountain views.)






We spotted Mark at the site in the parking lot chatting with workers, even though we hadn't heard him speak yet, we recognized him there. He later told us that the young people here on the dig are just so excited about the project and that the new generation is tackling learning about and preserving their Polynesian culture with great enthusiasm. After a few generations of people abandoning their culture because of missionaries and other outside influence, this is good news indeed! He said while few are practicing the old ways, there is great interest in not losing the history and culture.


After our archaeological rest we continue to climb up up up on the bicycles...


After a very looong climb, we made it to the summit and rewarded with fabulous views of...


fog and low clouds




(foggy summit)




We are quite familiar with fog, and even a little fond of it (remember we spend

summers in Maine). So we found the sight very scenic!





(Here we are with the bikes at the summit, we made it- 240 meters up! That's meters!! For feet you multiply by almost 3..yeah, that's what I'm saying ...wayyyyy up! This is #1 on the map)



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