If you're reading this, it's likely because you're yearning for a peaceful getaway to the pearl of the Pacific Ocean: French Polynesia. Whether it's the thriving island of Tahiti or the abundant greenery of a quieter Raiatea, cruises are a popular way to discover the area. But what do you need to consider before booking your Tahiti cruise?
One of the logistical difficulties of Tahiti cruises is getting to the first port of call. Many cruises start off in either Tahiti or Hawaii, making it your job to find a way to those destinations. Finding cruise companies that include special rates on airfare is the best way to solve this logistical problem. For example, as of this writing Paul Gaugin Cruises is offering 50 percent off standard Tahiti cruises and including free roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles. Also, Princess Cruises fully implemented its EZAir program this past September, making it easier for travelers to integrate their flight plans with their cruise plans. Of course, you can always work with a travel agent if you're having difficulty with the logistics of your Tahiti vacation. An agent can often work through more possibilities than you've considered, finding the perfect deal in the process.
There are several styles of cruises that involve Tahiti. You can hop on one of the local Tahiti cruises, which on average range from seven to 14 nights. (Haumana Cruises, which floats small catamarans, is an exception with three- to seven-day cruises.) Another common option is the one-way or roundtrip cruise that goes to or from Tahiti. These sorts of cruises often include final stops (or origins) in Honolulu or Sydney, and are becoming increasingly popular. Cruise company Holland America seemingly backed up that trend by announcing on Wednesday its plans to expand its Hawaii and Tahiti cruise trips into 2011 and 2012.
The following are some companies that heavily focus on your experience in French Polynesia. Other cruise companies may include Tahiti as a stop between two other destinations (or a stop on world cruises), so please don't consider this an exhaustive list of Tahiti cruise companies. For example, Royal Caribbean has two large ships that pass through French Polynesia for trips originating or ending in Auckland, Honolulu, and Sydney.
Large Luxury: Crystal Cruises
Midsize: Princess Cruises and Holland America
Midsize Luxury: Paul Gaugin Cruises and Silversea
Small Luxury: Nomade Yachting Bora Bora
Small Intimate: Haumana Cruises
Here are a few additional things to consider when booking your Tahiti cruise:
• Consider getting to your first port of call a day before you need to, especially with the long distances and time tables surrounding Tahiti cruises. You won't have to worry about rushing from the airport to your cruise ship. And if your flight is delayed for any reason, in most cases you'll still be able to breathe easy and get to the port on time.
• The city of Papeete in Tahiti is the common port of call for most cruise ships in French Polynesia.
• There's a lot of diversity between the islands of French Polynesia. Be sure to fully explore the nuances of each island you stop at on your Tahiti cruise.
• Like any planned trip, use online tools like Booking Buddy and Cruise Critic to find deals and reviews of Tahiti cruises.
Photo by Aah-Yeah from Flickr