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Post Tahiti Report (Michael Sullivan, US)
Created by John Eipper on 03/19/10 5:15 AM - tahiti-report-michael-sullivan-us

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Tahiti Report (Michael Sullivan, US) (John Eipper, USA, 03/19/10 5:15 am)

Michael Sullivan just returned from a cruise in Tahiti, and sends this report: Our trip to Tahiti was fantastic and world-class as far as the cruise ship, the Paul Gauguin, goes. Luxury at its best! Cabins the roomiest we've ever had and you could actually put all your gear away and then some. Food was gourmet at all three onboard restaurants. The staff running the boat was mainly French and Croatian but the wait staff was Filipino. Gratuities were included in the price and all beverages were free. Wine and spirits were the best brands or VSOP and it was free as it's included in the price. This saved us some big dollars as we had to pay our bar bill separately on past cruises. We had only 200 persons on a ship that can hold 300 plus; I think there are 150 staterooms. We really like the small cruise ships as the clientele is much better behaved than the huge cruise ships with 2,000 persons with most on a super saver plans and they act like wild party goers. Tahiti itself isn't much and is very poor, as several of the hotels on the outer islands have closed due to the down turn in the economy. Also they had a cyclone go through three months ago and it damaged a lot of the tourist bungalow huts on stilts in the water. They're normally go for $800 per night but were going for $550 during our visit. Tahiti has 160,000 people of the 260,000 in French Polynesia on the 90-plus islands. Most islands had only one road around them with no activity as there is no industry except on the island of Tahiti. Dogs were everywhere just hanging around. Moorea raises cattle and vanilla bean. It appears people on the outer islands eat a lot of fish, mangos, chickens and drink the local beer, Hinano, which is excellent. If you've seen one south seas island you've seen them all, and the Hawaiian Islands are much prettier. The prices for tourists ashore were so inflated it was sickening. A meal for four of us in one of Tahiti's best restaurants was $500, but it was a wonderful French meal with several courses but the dinner choices were all the same price. A 5 oz. class of beer, a glass of red wine and a Brandy Alexander were $46 at the hotel where we stayed the first two nights in Tahiti before boarding the ship for 8 days. We were taken on tours our first two days in Tahiti, but there was not much to see. The black beach where Captain Bligh landed is a farce, as it's just blackish dirt and not crystallized sand like on Iwo Jima. However, there were a couple of nice waterfalls and majestic topography. The weather was atrocious! It rained every day nearly all day as aboard ship as we were in a tropical depression, but nobody cared as the ship was so perfect in every way. We'd go ashore on the ship's tenders and see the islands. Famous Bora Bora was a disappointment and not as nice as some of the other islands we visited on the cruise. I had a Bloody Mary at a bar in Bora Bora with a dirt floor and have a T-shirt to prove it. That about sums up Bora Bora. The Tahitians we met were all very nice people and spoke mainly Tahitian and French. Not much English but for my wife, Nicole, French is her first language so we had it made. We met Marlon Brando's secretary, and she was very interesting and told us some stories about his life on an atoll where he bought and built a home in the Society Islands. She said he was a wondeful person and very down to earth as tourists would fly out to the atoll and they were cautioned to give him his privacy, but many times he would come out and greet them and act very hospitable. We're hoping for a cruise to the Greek Islands next year as we feel the best value for your money is on a small cruise ship and there is a cruise agency called "Sea Dreams" serving that area. They have ships (more like yachts) with 105 pax and a staff of 95 and are rated tops in the industry. JE comments: My thanks to Michael Sullivan for this excellent report on Tahiti, often perceived as the metaphor for the tropical exotic. (We probably owe Gaugin for this.) Michael brings the place back down to earth. I'm not sure I could ever enjoy myself with those prices! So let me place a plug for Colombia--it's gorgeous and still affordable, even with our deflated dollars. With some melancholy, we depart for Michigan in a few hours, but it's always good to be home. I have a couple of Colombia reports that I've owed WAISdom for several days. First up will be Medellin.

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