Small ship cruising is the best !
I recently returned from sailing on the Windstar Wind Spirit that had 140 passengers onboard (so in a way, its the same capacity if not less than a river cruise ship – but just built differently). The cruise began from Tahiti, which is actually in the same time zone as Hawaii and the non stop flight from LAX to Papeete takes only 8 hours. Most people think it is much further away but the tourism board has the best slogan which is “think of going to Honolulu but just watch one more movie and you’ll be in Tahiti!” You can see the location on the map below
Even with the sails down, the Wind Spirit sat majestically in the Papeete harbor waiting for the eager passengers to embark. There was a real demographic mix of people which included couples on their honeymoon (including many second marriage & same sex honeymoon couples) a few active families with their children, a few solo travellers and of course friends travelling together.
Most cabins are the same layout located on decks one and two (out of four total). They have an amazing amount of space in them and the bathroom is one of biggest I’ve seen for a ship this size
Even more amazing though is the blue/green warm water, the palm trees and the sunshine. If you love the beach, then this is the perfect holiday for you. One day we went to Motu Mahaea where you can see in the picture the clear water, the blue sky, the shady palms and on the right, they even set up two tents where the spa staff were giving massages on the beach. The sports staff brought paddle boards and the chef even cooked up an excellent bbq lunch – which all added up to a perfect day.
Our ship visited the Islands of Moorea, Tahaa, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Huahine where plenty of shore excursions were available if you wanted to take in a swim with the stingrays or snorkel to see the colorful fish. There were quite a few hikes offered and many visits to Pearl Farms or for the more adventurous – 4 wheel drive off roading. On our second day in Bora Bora, many of us rented these crazy looking little electric cars called a Twizy and drove all around the island (which if you didn’t stop, could do in an hour)
One night, we were taken by catamaran to another Motu close to Bora Bora where Windstar hosted us for an evening feast with local entertainment – such a fun night and they even put up the sails so when we were returning back to the ship guided by the moonlight, it was a breathtaking sight.
If you have a bit of trouble with a rocking motion though, this may not be the ship for you as many nights the gentle roll stepped it up a notch. I was not bothered by it at all but noticed there were many SeaBands and ear patches after our first night of it.
One of the most memorable things is the song that was played when the sails went up (Conquest of Paradise in case you were wondering) & everyone would gather around during the sailaway ritual which always ended with cheers. So I guess the question should be re-phrased from ‘Would you like to cruise around French Polynesia’ to ‘When do you want to go ?’
For more information, visit www.windstarcruises.com or drop me a comment with your questions about the trip.
Maururu ! (Thank you in Tahitian)