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Old May 23rd, 2003, 04:17 PM
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Default Bora Bora

In looking at the shore excursions in Tahiti, the one for Bora Bora describes the transportation as local "Le Trucks". Anyone know what that means? The other islands mention air conditioned coaches but only Bora Bora mentions these. Does that mean we get stuck in some kind of non-airconditioned school bus like they do in Sitka, Alaska?

Also, the Pacific Princess docks at Papeete at 8 PM and we disembark the next morning starting at 7 AM. I doubt that leaves us any time to see Papeete. I won't have any idea of what our flight home is until 30 days before sailing. Is there a usual time for flights from Papeete to LAX? Princess' web site shows a couple of tours that one can do in Papeete. Does anyone know what they do with us between disembarking and catching our flight?
Frank-in-CA
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Old May 23rd, 2003, 09:16 PM
norm norm is offline
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Default Re: Bora Bora

Frank,

In looking at the shore excursions in Tahiti, the one for Bora Bora describes the transportation as local "Le Trucks". Anyone know what that means?

Yes. It means that somebody does not know French. The correct plural of "Le Truck" is "Les Trucks"....

Anyway, these vehicles are essentially flatbed trucks converted to carry passengers by the addition of wood bodies that serve as local buses on many of the islands of French Polynesia. They do not have air conditioning, but the windows (plexiglas) in the wood body do open for ventilation. Since you won't be going very far, these "Gerry rigs" are quite adequate for their intended purpose -- though they are yielding to actual buses on some of the islands.

Does that mean we get stuck in some kind of non-airconditioned school bus like they do in Sitka, Alaska?

No. See above.

Also, the Pacific Princess docks at Papeete at 8 PM and we disembark the next morning starting at 7 AM. I doubt that leaves us any time to see Papeete. I won't have any idea of what our flight home is until 30 days before sailing. Is there a usual time for flights from Papeete to LAX? Princess' web site shows a couple of tours that one can do in Papeete. Does anyone know what they do with us between disembarking and catching our flight?

About half of the passengers will be on a charter flight operated by Omni Airlines under contract to Princess Cruises. This charter arrives in Papeete from Los Angeles around 8:00 PM and departs Papeete around 10:00 PM for Los Angeles. The timing is somewhat strange, but basically it allows passengers from just about anywhere in North America to fly to Los Angeles on the day of embarkation, connect to the charter flight, and get to the ship in time for a late dinner. Departing passengers on this charter must go to the airport in the morning to check in their luggage, then return to the ship by lunchtime and are free to stay aboard, to take tours, or to go into Papeete on their own until final disembarkation after an early dinner in the evening. The return flight arrives in Los Angeles around 8:00 AM, so passengers can get flights home that day. Thus, there's no overnight stay at a hotel en route -- either coming or going.

I'm aware of four commercial airlines that serve Papeete from the United States. Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, and one of the Star Aliance carriers (I'm not sure whether it's Air New Zealand or Quantas) operate flights between Papeete and Los Angeles. Air France's flight departs Los Angeles at 12:15 AM, arriving in Papeete at 6:30 AM, with the return flight departing Papeete at 8:30 AM and arriving in Los Angeles at 6:50 PM, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Air Tahiti Nui operates about ten flights per week with varying timing and I think that the Star Alliance carrier offers daily service with timing similar to the Omni charter. In addition, Hawaiian Airlines operates offers flights between Honolulu and Papeete several times per week, but I'm not sure of the schedule.

MV Tahitian Princess had a rather unusual dinner arrangement on turnaround day due to unusal flight schedule. The main dining room served dinner on a walk-in basis, with open seating, between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM followed by a late dinner between 9:00 PM and 10:30 PM. Both times featured the same menu ("Sailaway Dinner"). Passengers departing on the Omni charter or on commercial flights with similar timing could eat dinner during the earlier time window (although those on the first buses would need to go to dinner right at 6:00 PM), while passengers arriving on the Omni charter or on commercial flights with similar timing could eat dinner upon embarkation. The assigned tables at early and main seatings took effect on the second day of the cruise. It seems reasonable to expect that MV Pacific Princess will follow a similar schedule when her turnaround is in Papeete.

Norm.
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Old May 23rd, 2003, 09:42 PM
norm norm is offline
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Default Re: Bora Bora

Frank,

Just another thought -- while you're spending the ca$h to go to French Polynesia and enduring eight-hour flights, you might want to consider spending a couple extra days there. The resorts there are quite nice. I spent a couple nights at the Moorea Beachcomber Intercontinental Resort before my cruise and a couple nights at the Tahiti Beachcomber Intercontinental Resort after my cruise, and found both to be wonderful. They also present shows featuring Polynesian music and dance that range from very good to exceptional, with dinner buffets included in the package. There's a high speed catamaran ferry between Tahiti and Moorea that makes the passage in about 1/2 hour for about $20 and taxis are readily available and quite reasonable on both islands. Both of these resorts also offer "21 day advance purchase" rates that are quite reasonable.

FWIW, there's another advantage to booking your own flights -- you can book on an alliance partner of your preferred airline and earn "on line" miles in your preferred airline's frequent flier plan. The flights between Los Angeles and Papeete are over four thousand air miles each way -- too many miles to pass up if you're in the running for premium standing in your preferred airline's frequent flier plan.

BTW, if you have an early morning departure, be sure to stay on Tahiti the night before. If you have an evening arrival, be sure to stay on Tahiti on that night.

Norm.
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Old May 24th, 2003, 04:18 PM
Frank
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Default Re: Re: Bora Bora

Norm:
I was only interested in the return as we arrive in Papeete for the first time after completing an 18 day voyage from San Francisco. At first we had planned to stay a few days at the end of the cruise but after 18 days of relaxation with the majority of sea days, we figured we'd just go right home.

I am a little concerned about spending all day in some kind of limbo. If I get this right, we disembark early, go to the airport and check in our bags and then go back to the ship and/or tour until it is time for a 10 PM flight home? What do we do with our carry on bags during that time? I can see why you recommend a few days there to relax. I'm going to have to rethink this.

I don't think I can get a one-way flight from Papeete to SFO via LAX for a better price. We are paying $489 for that flight through Princess.
Frank
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Old May 25th, 2003, 06:58 PM
Rev22:17 Rev22:17 is offline
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Default Re: Re: Re: Bora Bora

Frank,

I was only interested in the return as we arrive in Papeete for the first time after completing an 18 day voyage from San Francisco. At first we had planned to stay a few days at the end of the cruise but after 18 days of relaxation with the majority of sea days, we figured we'd just go right home.

I understood that detail, but sometimes things make more sense if you have the whole picture. Additionally, some of the folks reading this thread might be either on the cruise after yours aboard MV Pacific Princess (Papeete to Sidney, IIRC) or on a cruise aboard MV Tahitian Princess, and thus would be embarking in Papeete. Thus, it seemed easier to explain everything at once for all concerned.

I am a little concerned about spending all day in some kind of limbo. If I get this right, we disembark early, go to the airport and check in our bags and then go back to the ship and/or tour until it is time for a 10 PM flight home?

Yes, you understood the arrangement for the Omni Airlines charter flight correctly -- but that arrangement applies only to passengers on the Omni Airlines charter flight to Los Angeles. Passengers on other flights go to the airport only once, about three hours before the time of their flights, and follow the normal check-in procedure.

What do we do with our carry on bags during that time?

Abaord MV Tahitian Princess, they designated Sabatini's as a check for hand luggage -- which basically meant anything that you are bringing on or off yourself -- for the entire turnaround day (until the last bus left for the airport, IIRC). I actually brought both of my suitcases aboard and ashore myself because I was taking a taxi to a hotel on Tahiti with a 2:00 PM check-in time, and thus and wanted to stay aboard ship through lunchtime . There was no problem checking everything at Sabatini's, either upon embarkation (I also embarked before the staterooms were ready, having come on a ferry from Moorea, and did not know my cabin assignment) or disembarkation day. MV Pacific Princess may use a different room for the baggage check service, but probably will have a similar arrangement.

I can see why you recommend a few days there to relax. I'm going to have to rethink this.

My primary motivation for staying in French Polynesia for a couple days, both before and after the cruise, was to fly on an airline (Air France) that's an alliance partner of the airline that I normally fly (Delta) so that the milage would count toward premium ("Medallian") standing in my frequent flier program (SkyMiles). Nonetheless, I'm glad that I made the decision that I did -- I got to see a couple really impressive shows of Polynesian music and dance at the resorts where I stayed (Moorea Beachcomber Intercontinental Resort before the cruise and Tahiti Beachcomber Intercontinental Resort after the cruise). Each of these hotels has show three or four nights per week that costs about $75 per person, including an excellent buffet dinner with many diverse choices.

I don't think I can get a one-way flight from Papeete to SFO via LAX for a better price. We are paying $489 for that flight through Princess.

If low cost is your primary objective, check Air Tahiti Nui's fares. I heard very favorable comments about Air Tahiti Nui from passengers aboard MV Tahitian Princess and from people that I met at both resorts. Air Tahiti Nui operates as a discount carrier, like Southwest, but serves the tourist routes into and out of Papeete with Airbus A-340 aircraft. You might be able to beat Princess's price by a fairly significant margin, depending upon how cheaply you can get to San Francisco from Los Angeles.

Norm.
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Old May 26th, 2003, 01:25 PM
Frank
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Bora Bora

Norm:
A lot of good information there. I won't know my flight information until 30 days before I leave. I guess that is enough time to possibly add on a day or two of staying on Papeete. I also have found that when one books a post cruise through the cruise line, one is able to check in early, before posted check in times.

We used to spend 3 weeks every year in Hawaii so the last thing I'd need to see is another Polynesian dance. I'm pretty much jaded in that category.

My hesitation with staying really has more to do with my attitude towards the French than probably anything else. I have never cared for their rudeness in the past and would not go back to France on a free trip and this was recently cemented by their activities in the UN undermining our country. So I'm reluctant to spend one red cent more than I've already committed to with the French.

I will check out Air Tahiti Nui as I believe they are partners with AA whose mileage I do accumulate. Unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance it Air Tahiti Nui is the airline Princess would have ended up booking too?

Thanks again for the info.
Frank
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Old May 26th, 2003, 07:47 PM
Rev22:17 Rev22:17 is offline
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bora Bora

Frank,

My hesitation with staying really has more to do with my attitude towards the French than probably anything else. I have never cared for their rudeness in the past and would not go back to France on a free trip and this was recently cemented by their activities in the UN undermining our country. So I'm reluctant to spend one red cent more than I've already committed to with the French.

It's not clear that the attitudes of most French Polynesians toward the French is much different from yours. In fact, there is a separatist movement that's pretty strong, at least in some parts of the islands. The French Polynesians are also pragmatic, though, and they seem content to wait for the end of a commitment of payments from France before declaring independence outright. They are using much of the money from these payments to develop their infrastructure and to promote tourism.

I actually found the French Polynesian people to be quite courteous, gracious, and hospitable. You're in for a pleasant surprise!

I will check out Air Tahiti Nui as I believe they are partners with AA whose mileage I do accumulate. Unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance it Air Tahiti Nui is the airline Princess would have ended up booking too?

Actually, you should get your flight information about sixty days before departure now. It comes in the information package that Princess sends immediately after you make your final payment. OTOH, if you get a cheaper fare by booking your own flights, who cares what arrangements Princess would have made?

There is another option, too. You could sign up for Princess's custom air program and have Princess book you on your preferred airline. It probably would be cheaper to do that now, while the best air fares are still available, than to wait until sixty days before your cruise and find that you have unsatisfactory flights before making such a request.

Norm.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 05:15 PM
Frank
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bora Bora

Norm:
Once again great information. Thank you for correcting me about my stereotype concerning the French Polynesians. In the back of my mind I was wondering if all the Polynesians have that Aloha Spirit one finds in Hawaii.

Also good idea about custom air.
Frank
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Old May 27th, 2003, 05:34 PM
Rev22:17 Rev22:17 is offline
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Default Re: Bora Bora

Frank,

Once again great information.

You're welcome. I'm always happy to be perceived as more of an "asset" than the first 3/5 of one!

Thank you for correcting me about my stereotype concerning the French Polynesians. In the back of my mind I was wondering if all the Polynesians have that Aloha Spirit one finds in Hawaii.

Yes, the "Aloha!" spirit is quite alive and well in French Polynesia -- though the Polynesians of French Polynesia speak a different Polynesian dialect than the Polynesians of Hawaii , so "aloha" is not the right word.

The only other catch is that English is actually a third language to the people of French Polynesia who speak it, their dialect of the Polynesian language being their first language and French being their second language. Thus, they are much less skilled in English than either the Samoans or the Cook Islanders, for whom English is a second language. It's helpful if you can speak some French, though most of the staff in the resorts and other tourist areas can communicate in English to some degree.

Norm.
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Old May 29th, 2003, 12:26 AM
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Norm:
I checked independent air fare from Papeete to SFO and it was outrageous. The less than $500/pp from Princess is half to a fourth of what I'm finding on the internet.
Frank
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Old August 14th, 2003, 09:01 AM
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Default Re: Bora Bora

Norm - I am considering the Tahitian Princess next April or May. Which month is better as far as weather, rainfall, etc.? We will be flying from Houston. What time do the flights normally leave LA for Papeete? Would it be better to fly into LA a day early? If we do not fly into LA early do you have to claim your luggage and recheck into whatever airline is going to Papette. Also, is everything closed on Sundays on all of the islands? This will determine which itinery we finally select.
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