Food on the Tahitian Princess was OK, not spectacular. Although I am big fan of Princess, I am not a big fan of their food, as it often seems lacking, kind of pedestrian. We much preferred the food on lines like Dolphin, in the old days, when Apollo did the catering. Also, we travel quite often to St. Martin and the food there quite ruins us for the standard cruise fare. What I found particularly lacking about food on the TP was the singular LACK of personal choice cruising in dining. I really don’t know what the percentages are of folks who prefer the traditional assigned first and second seating over personal choice dining, but we have no desire whatsoever to be locked into dining at a specific table at a specific time every night. OK, I get the concept that, because there is only one dining room, that they cannot offer personal choice dining in the dining room on this ship. (OK, I know Ren did it, but whatever...) What I DON’T get is that there really is no alternative to the main assigned seating in the dining room, unless you want to PAY for it. Here are the choices for dinner–assigned seating in the dining room, 1st or 2nd seating, pay dining in EITHER the Steakhouse or Sabatini’s, whichever one happens to be open for that part of the week, Pizza (ONLY–NO salad, bread sticks, desserts, NOTHING else in addition) or room service. Be advised that, even though it is NOT published ANYwhere that I know of, that you can order from room service, anything that is on the menu in the dining room, during the normal evening meal hours. The buffet is NOT open at night at ALL, any night, except for embarkation night. There are NO midnight buffets either, ANY night, except for a party on deck on the night the ship is in Raitea. Not that I necessarily mind that much missing midnight buffets, but there just is not much available on this ship, if you decide to not go to the dinner in the dining room. A very nice addition to me would be something like what Celebrity does, which is to bring little tiny pizzas or desserts or hot foods around in the public rooms at night, which I have always found very nice. There is something called “The Bistro”, which is open like 11 PM to 4 AM or so. However, it is a sit-down restaurant only. Who wants table service at that time of night??? All I want is maybe a piece of pie or something, not something elaborate, and I would be perfectly happy. They could run a buffet from 6 to 9 PM and an extremely abbreviated buffet thereafter and satisfy 99.99% of the people.
ROOM SERVICE-- Standard room service was available for breakfast, continental breakfast only, according to the hang tag. I did hear of people who requested hot items for room service breakfast and received it, so I think you can get other things, just write them in. There was an extremely limited menu of about 3 or 4 sandwiches, plus fries and some type of a chicken caesar salad, but nothing at all elaborate. We only ordered room service for breakfast once, strangely enough, and it came 15 minutes early. As I said above, anything off the main dining room menu is available from room service during dinner hours. BTW, I HEARD that they shut down room service at 9 PM, but I do NOT know if that is true or not, as we actually only ordered room service for breakfast. We were on deck 8, and thus it generally was almost as easy to just go to the buffet and get what we wanted, when we wanted it.
ALTERNATIVE DINING– The morning after we arrived on the ship, we made reservations to dine in the Steakhouse two evenings during the cruise. You should know that I am a huge steak lover. Fish lover, not at all. Many folks in the past have raved about Sabatini’s, which is all well and good. However, their menu is extremely tilted toward fish dishes, which I am not fond of, so I had no interest whatsoever in dining there. The Steakhouse, however, was very interesting to me. I was disappointed to learn that, for our cruise anyway, and I presume this was the normal course, that the Steakhouse was open the first half of the cruise and Sabatini’s the last half. That schedule works out fine for those who are interested in dining in both venues, but those who are interested in only one will find themselves dining in the same venue twice within a close proximity, if they wish to indulge more than once. The cover charge for The Steakhouse is $8 PP, for Sabatini’s, $15 PP. So, everything works out for the best–we went to the Steakhouse twice for the same price as Sabatini’s once, and I enjoyed the food!! G!!
The first time we went to the Steakhouse was the first full day of the cruise, docked in Papeete, and it was a wonderful night to dine there!! The view of the lights of Papeete was quite spectacular and made for a lovely beginning to our dining experience. I quite think the view made that night the very BEST night to dine there, as on the other nights, there was no view whatsoever, other than the dark seas. Despite this, the room was very empty. I suspect that you could possibly almost walk in that night, if you wanted. I ordered a half order of the bloomin’ onion (kind of like Outback–VERY good!!), Eric had the caesar salad, and we both had the 10 oz filet mignon. The steaks come with a variety of vegetables, including in my case, a COLD baked potato. I didn’t send it back, although I should have. Eric had the chocolate pecan tart for dessert and I had the raspberry creme brulee. I was disappointed in the creme brulee, as it was somewhat tart, and the crust was VERY hard, in addition to the custard being cold. I guess I have had too many GREAT creme brulee’s in St. Martin for a cruise ship to measure up. I was even more disappointed to see the VERY SAME creme brulee on the menu in the main dining room a couple of nights later. I would have thought that a pay dining experience would guarantee one a different level of food than in the main dining room. Still in all, the steaks were great, we shared a lovely bottle of wine, overlooking the lights of Papeete, enjoyed wonderful service, and thoroughly enjoyed our evening at the Steakhouse.
We also dined at the Steakhouse on Italian Night in the dining room, which was the night after Rarotonga. This night also, the room was not full, although it was more full than it had been the first night. I don’t know whether it was an accident or a feature of the extra $10 tip which we had left the first night in the Steakhouse, but we ended up with the same waiter the second night in the Steakhouse. I told him as I ordered that I was serious as a heart attack, that he’d better not bring me a cold baked potato this evening, for I would send it back. Interestingly enough, when it came, it was quite hot..... G!!!!! This time, we shared a wonderful appetizer of spinach and artichoke dip. As we were trying to order a wine for dinner, we went through a couple of different choices that were not available. It seems that the container with all the supplies for TP had missed the ship by one day in Papeete, and they ran out of many things during our cruise, like some of the various wines, some of the beers, etc., which they were not able to replenish. Princess apparently does not buy ANYTHING locally. Everything is shipped from LA, which takes a month on a container ship. Therefore, some things they run low on. We went through two choices of wine which they did not have. I jokingly said that if they didn’t have my next choice, I wanted a FREE bottle of Opus One. Unfortunately, they had the next wine I selected! DARN!! Anyway, after our most excellent appetizer, we each had the NY strip. Because we had cheated and gone to the little sandwich buffet that evening, we weren’t hungry enough for dessert. As before, we thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it was worth the money.
PIZZA RESTAURANT– Sometimes they served pizza by the slice at lunch time, but otherwise, pizza was available in the evening, ordered off a menu, generally from 6 PM to 11PM, in a portion of the buffet which was cordoned off for that purpose. I particularly enjoyed the Tahitian pizza, which was ham and pineapple. We had pizza for dinner the night of the deck party in Raitea, and we shared one as a kind of a pre dinner appetizer one other night. Both times, the pizza was very good, but the place was ALWAYS deserted. I suspect a good reason why it was deserted is that they served NOTHING else in addition to the pizza–no salad bar, or even caesar salad, no dessert. If they had offered either, I think they would have had a lot more takers. I let the maitre d know that they really should offer something else in addition to the pizza–offering a very small salad bar or even a pre-made Caesar salad–would be not much trouble at all. He told me “I will inform my superiors”.... in that tone of voice that lets you know that he has no intention of doing so. They really do not want to encourage anyone to eat anywhere except in the dining room or the pay venues and they discourage it roundly by not offering any other choices.
BUFFETS– We ate almost all our breakfasts and lunches at the buffet, mostly because we didn’t want to take the time for the dining room. Buffet breakfasts were predictable, the standard scrambled eggs, usually either pancakes or french toast, bacon, ham, link sausage, some type of fried potatoes, a selection of cheeses (which always seemed better for breakfast than for lunch, which didn’t make sense to me), fruits and various breads, muffins, croissants. You could get made to order omelettes and fried eggs outside, in the same place where they serve burgers at lunch time. I never saw any waffles at the buffet and I don’t think they were on the DR menu either. The sliced fruits, like watermelon, cantaloupe, etc., were generally of very poor quality. I believe they came all the way from LA, which would explain it. The pineapple was better, but nothing like the pineapple we were able to get onshore. What bananas I saw were also of very poor quality.
Lunch buffets were of varied quality. The only one that I can truly say that I didn’t care for at all was the Polynesian one. G!! Sometimes there was a carved meat, usually then there were about 3 hot meats, plus a couple of vegetables, a few salads, a small salad bar, and desserts. The grill outside served hamburgers, hotdogs and fries. These were generally cooked as you watched and thus not hugely overcooked, like on many ships.
DINING ROOM MEALS– Our poor waiter (Bogie), I’m sure thought that we didn’t like him at all, as we did NOT eat in the DR almost as often as we did.. He was actually quite an excellent waiter, and quite personable, although his busboy kind of left something to be desired. We did not eat in the DR for dinner on 5 separate occasions–the first night in Papeete we ate at the buffet (which probably doesn’t really count), two times, we went to the steakhouse, once for pizza, and in Bora Bora, we ate at Bloody Mary’s for dinner. Thus, we were somewhat the pariahs of our table of 8, which only ever had 6 people at it. There were 6 chairs and a banquette for two by the window, which was always empty, as those seats were very uncomfortable. There was an older couple at our table who were very traditional cruisers, ate in the DR every night, and I’m sure they didn’t quite know what to make of us.
You can go to most any one of the bars and look at the dining room menu for lunch or for dinner, to determine what you want to eat, which we often did. Often, nothing looked particularly appetizing. Princess does have their ‘always available” selections, which include a NY strip, a grilled chicken, and a fettuccine alfredo. I had the NY strip one night (good, but overcooked, as we found to the case with ANY beef served on TP), and the fettuccine Alfredo, which was excellent. Other nights I had the surf and turf (beef good but overcooked, the shrimp VERY fishy tasting), and the turkey. The turkey was excellent. I also had an excellent beef tournadoes. Eric says that he had an excellent pasta with lobster sauce on French night, as well as an excellent apple tart the same night, and a good prime rib, although, again, overdone, compared to what we are used to at home. The French Onion soup on French night was good, not great, although our palates for French Onion soup are perhaps spoiled by the many great ones in St. Martin. The other soups I had were the broccoli soup, which was awful, and a cold soup one night, which also was awful. Normally, their cold cream soups are great, sort of like melted ice cream, but this one was bitter tasting and not good. I also had a lobster bisque, which was very missable. Salads were not terribly memorable and I don’t recall any that were particularly good. Some of the appetizers were excellent, including a crab quiche the first formal night. We each had the shrimp cocktail one night, which is an always available item, and fairly predictable. We skipped dessert a couple of nights. I had the always available cheesecake a couple of nights, which was very good. One night for dessert we had a kind of meringue deal that was recommended by the waiter. We both thought it only moderately palatable. We each had a dessert souffle one night. Eric had the chocolate hazelnut and I the Grand Marnier, both of which were good, but I thought a mine was a little bland, although Eric thought his was excellent.
BTW, during French night dinner onboard the ship, I made the comment to the waiter that –due to recent world events–that perhaps they should be careful about US citizens trying to burn the French flags planted on their dinner tables. The comment sailed TOTALLY over the waiter’s head, as he had no idea what I was talking about. Proof, I guess, that a cruise ship is an island and an independent country in and of itself...
FORMAL NIGHTS– Frankly, I don’t see why you need any formal nights in French Polynesia, but recognize there is a dedicated Princess contingent of passengers that loves it. Eric and I both wear suits to work every day, and have been on many, many cruises, so the thrill of formal night somewhat eludes us. We did haul along the formal wear, including Eric’s tux, and we did wear our stuff the first formal night of the cruise, but skipped the second one altogether. On our particular cruise, they had the formal nights after what I consider to be the two most impressive ports of the trip–Moorea and the first night in Bora Bora. (Our ship was in Bora Bora two days.) We went ashore in Bora Bora for dinner, thus missing the second formal night altogether. Now, based on our personal experience, apparently we are kind of the odd ducks, as, when we took the last tender back from BB that evening, we were joined by 9 other folks (3 of which were crew) who had also gone to Bloody Mary’s for dinner that night. Apparently we were the ONLY ones to have eaten dinner off the ship that night. However, the fact remains that there were two days at sea on this itinerary and NEITHER one was a formal night. The day in Moorea was the DAY BEFORE a full day at sea. Wouldn’t that day have been a much more logical first formal night???? Duh. Stupid. Then, the second formal night occurs on the ONLY night when the ship is going to spend overnight in a port and stay there the next day. Again, DUH, STUPID. My only logical explanation for why they had the formal night in BB is because of the champagne waterfall, a Princess tradition. Now, I really love the champagne waterfall, but it can be a dicey business if the seas are rough, especially on a small ship like this. My personal feeling why they had the second formal night in BB (which is not supported by any information from any official source) is that they have it then so the maitre d and his 600 champagne glasses don’t go crashing to the ground if there are heavy swells.
TAKING LUNCH WITH YOU OFF THE SHIP– There was a discussion on Cruise Critic before our trip regarding taking a lunch off the ship, to enjoy on the beach. We have done this on several Caribbean islands, usually with our lunch consisting of fruit and cheese, snarfed off the buffet, and a bottle of wine. On this trip, we brought our little tiny mini cooler, which will hold a bottle of wine, a couple pieces of fruit, and some cheese, for just that purpose. However, we did not have the time to do that, which I regretted. BTW, there were notices in the Princess Patter that one was not supposed to take fruit off the ship, in several of the ports. However, no one was checking bags as people left, at all, so one could have done that if you wanted.
NORWALK VIRUS As most of you may know, a few cruise ships have been afflicted with the Norwalk virus–along with half the western world. I believe that most health officials have reported Norwalk being the second most common illness in the US now, after the cold?? When we came onboard, there was a memo on the bed from the medical director of the Princess fleet with general info about Norwalk and with admonitions that the easiest way to prevent the spread of the virus was to wash your hands frequently, and that if anyone was sick, that they should report to the medical center, for which there would be no charge. Also, there were signs posted in all bathrooms encouraging folks to wash their hands frequently. Unfortunately, though, there appeared to be no additional precautions taken with buffets. We were not aware of any reported Norwalk on our cruise or any other TP cruises.
CRUISE CRITIC FOLKS!!!!-- We had corresponded by email and on the BB’s before the cruise with several great CC folks. We met up with Glo and Dave the first night onboard ship and Craig and Cathy Leonard the next day, and had a great lunch in the dining room, getting acquainted with the Leonards. We had our CC get together at 7:30 PM on the second day of the cruise. We had a heck of a time finding a spot for our get-together, as we had a hard time finding a bar open. Then we started to try to meet in the Nightclub, but there was a band playing, making it impossible to talk. We then adjourned to the Library, where we were finally able to talk in peace and actually be overheard. We had, I believe, around 18 CC folks onboard. It was great to be able to meet up with various folks from time to time onboard and we often did shore excursions together, in addition to the ones that had been pre-booked before we left home.
MUSTER DRILL– By the way, the muster drill for our cruise was on the 15th, the first FULL day of the cruise, while we were still docked in Papeete, at 5 PM. Thus, if you want to miss it, you might want to consider having a drink ashore around that time.... G!!
LIQUOR– Coming back onto the ship, they ran bags through the metal detector. I did not see them confiscating any liquor, but liquor in Tahiti is much more expensive than you could get even from room service so there was really no incentive for people to buy liquor ashore. Again, prior to our leaving, there was a major discussion on Cruise Critic about liquor and Princess’ (as well as most other cruise lines’ current policy) which is theoretically to not allow you to bring hard liquor onboard a ship for consumption onboard. Be advised that policy applies ONLY to hard liquor, and not to wine or champagne, which you are allowed to bring onboard on Princess. Most cruise lines do charge a corkage fee of $5 to $10 if you drink that wine in the dining room. The liquor that is sold onboard ship in the shops now is held until the last night of your cruise and delivered to your cabin the last night of the cruise, so that is useless in drinking onboard ship. There is an EXTREMELY limited list of liquor choices that can be pre-ordered on the Princess web site for consumption in the cabin. This liquor costs roughly twice the duty free price in their onboard shop. We live in Virginia and can get liquor for maybe 30% above the duty free shop prices, so the web site prices are very high to us, and the web site liquor listings include, for example, Bacardi Limon, as their ONLY rum. What we found out upon boarding the ship, though, is that you can go to the CLUB Bar, which is the one right by the main restaurant, and purchase a bottle of ANY type of liquor that is sold by the drink there. Again, the prices are roughly twice the duty free prices–sometimes more–but if you don’t want to have to haul liquor, this might well be your answer. We brought our own bottles of Bacardi Dark for me and Tanqueray for Eric, packed in bubble wrap and in checked baggage. It came through fine. We purchased a few bottles of French wine in Papeete the first day, some of which were good and some of which were not so good. ;) We also bought wine from Princess with dinner twice in the Steakhouse, and once with a pizza. BTW, they do have some liquor packages available from room service–stuff like gin and tonic, packaged together. However, the containers of liquor were really small, so thus it was kind of a rip-off.
ENTERTAINMENT– In general, don’t ask me anything about organized entertainment or the production shows, as we haven’t been to any kind of a production show in probably 15 cruises. Other folks we talked to said the onboard comedian was good, but you couldn’t prove it by us. There were the standard bingo, art auctions, Kareoke stupidity, etc. The pool duo that was on the ship the week we were on is gone now, thank god. Their name was “Panache”. Strange name for people that didn’t have any.... They didn’t quite get the concept that a pool deck band should be kind of upbeat, happy, etc. Their music was slow, depressing, quiet, and they possessed very little actual musical talent. Fortunately for future cruisers, their contract was up the last day of our cruise and there was a new pool band that got on that day. Just from their warm up exercises, their music sounded much more suitable, so that is good news for future cruisers. The other duo onboard was called Bliss. They were much better. They played nightly in the Nightclub. Unfortunately for me, they had a tendency toward country, which I abhor, but they were decent musicians and much more enjoyable overall than the now thankfully gone Panache.
CASINO– In general our evening entertainment was either the casino, the bar, or spending time on deck. The casino on TP is extremely small, and consists of one roulette wheel, two blackjack tables, 1 Caribbean Stud table, and 1 3 card poker table. I don’t recall having seen a 3 card poker table on a ship before, but it is somewhat similar to Caribbean Stud–which basically means that it is a game with a HUGE house margin. On many occasions, the Caribbean stud table and/or the 3 card poker table were absolutely empty and the blackjack tables had standing room only waiting to sit. Frankly, I think they should do away with one or the other, or alternate them and change the table to blackjack, as it was often hard getting a seat at the blackjack table. One night, they did switch the 3 card poker table to a blackjack table, but generally, both it and the Caribbean Stud table were pretty empty. The roulette wheel was pretty heavily used on our trip, as there were several South Americans onboard and they were heavy roulette players. EVEN THOUGH IT’S NOT PUBLISHED, you can get 50 cent chips, which is a lifesaver for folks like me that love roulette, and manage to generally lose everything we play! G!! There was a $3 Blackjack table, part of the time. BTW, apparently there was a craps table on the ship when it sailed for Ren, which they took out. Seems logical to me, as craps tables on much larger ships are often ghost towns.
The casino kept what I thought were some pretty strange hours. For example, they were OPEN when we were in port in Papeete, the first full day after we embarked, and the last day of the cruise until 6 PM, as we disembarked. They were also open in the evening in Bora Bora, where the ship stayed overnight. However, on most nights, they were closed from 6 to 9 P.M., for dinner. Huh???
CASINO BAR– Our FAVORITE place on the ship, next to our cabin, partly because of our FAVORITE crew member, Sandra, the casino bartender. She is a really nice person, great bartender, and took really good care of us. We also enjoyed the company of Chris, one of the casino waiters, and a nice fellow also. The only thing I didn’t like about the casino bar is that they often used the adjacent lounge for stupid stuff like Kareoke. (Isn’t there some outhouse you could hold that in or something????)
As I stated elsewhere in the report, all supplies apparently come from LA and if you miss the container ship, as our ship did–by one day–you will often run out of stuff. One very IMPORTANT thing that we ran out of during our cruise was LIMES for our drinks. Determined to not let such an occurrence ruin our trip, in Rarotonga, we went ashore and sought out a grocery store and purchased a stock of limes. We then proceeded to give them to our friend Sandra, who kept them on stock for us at the casino bar. Good girl!!
THE PRINCESS PATTER– I do not recall that I have ever had anything to say about the Princess Patter in one of my reviews. The fact that I noticed how inept the writing of the Patter is must say something about it. First, it seems odd to me that they do not have the dining schedule in the Patter. Question--What’s the first question that cruisers have??? Answer–What time is dinner??? Question–What’s the SECOND question that cruisers have??? Answer–What time is the Midnight Buffet??? Ding!! Trick Question–NO midnight buffet on this ship!!!! OK, I don’t care that the dining schedule is the same every day of the 10 days, people don’t remember it!!!! And where do they go to find out what time dinner is??? To the Princess Patter, which doesn’t tell them. Dumb. What they have instead is a little card which you are supposed to keep in your stateroom to tell you what time the dining is. We stuck ours to the mirror in our stateroom, but most folks aren’t that organized. Get a grip folks–what people care about is what time dinner is, NOT what time the freaking art auction is... And, one day toward the end of the cruise, they were advertising the Sterling Steakhouse. That’s nice, except for the fact that the Sterling Steakhouse was only open the first HALF of the cruise.....Also, is there no such thing as spell check anymore?? On several occasions throughout the 10 days, I noted really stupid mistakes and obvious misspellings in the PP, things such as “port” being spelled “prot”. Stuff like referring to the “Island of Papeete”??? If you want to read some really gruesome stuff, pay attention to the upper right hand corner of the PP, on the front page, called “From the Navigator”. Verbatim quote from March 16, 2003, PP–“We will SIAL this morning at 6:00 AM and once we clear the GARBOUR...”Geez Louise, guys, are these new words that are not normally in the PP??? Anyone ever heard of spell check???? (BTW, we have copies of all the PP’s for our cruise, if anybody wants a copy.)
WINE TASTINGS- I probably shouldn’t put this in here, since we didn’t go to either one of the wine tastings, but that never stopped me before! :) There were two wine tastings conducted onboard the ship, neither one of which was listed in the Princess Patter. The first wine tasting, there was a fellow coming around at the table in the dining room, asking us to sign UP for the wine tasting. Well, that concept kind of turned us off, so we didn’t. Since when do we have to sign up??? They did have a good deal though, you pay $5 for the wine tasting and then if you order a bottle of wine, they give you back the $5 as a credit. Apparently that wine tasting was sold out, although I have no idea what the venue was. That took place on the first day at sea. I’m not exactly sure, but I believe that the second wine tasting was the second day at sea, as they were talking about it in the Steakhouse when we dined there the night after Rarotonga. The second wine tasting was billed as being all premium wines, and the cost was $25 per person. Perhaps a good deal, IF the wines had all been premium wines. HOWEVER, our table-mates reported that they attended this wine tasting–along with the first one of course– and that the ONLY premium wine served was Opus One and the SINGLE bottle served the entire room. The rest of the wines were $35 bottles of wine, according to them. Now, looking back on it, I don’t know whether they meant $35 per bottle SHIP prices or $35 per bottle WINE STORE prices. In any event, if you decide to go to the second wine tasting, make sure you know what you’re getting...
PLATINUM CLUB AND THE INTERNET CAFÉ– As I stated above, once you have at least six Princess cruises, you are considered a member of the Platinum Club. Once you have at least one prior Princess cruise, you are a Gold Member, which entitles you to Members only onboard Events; a Princess “Passport”; Collectible Destination Stamps; the services of a Circle Host; a Member Benefits Card; Preferential Pricing Offers; a Princess Captain’s Circle Quarterly Magazine; and the Princess Captain’s Circle Web Center. (Please check on the Princess web site for what all those things mean. With Platinum membership, you receive, in addition to the above, a Complimentary Cruise Atlas; a Free upgrade to TravelCare Gold; Platinum Check-In; Platinum Members Lounge (NOT available on TP) and most importantly Free Unlimited Internet Access!!!! We did not actually use it that much, but we did have one small business emergency while we were gone, and we were able to use it to resolve that. You insert your cruise card into the computer to log on. At the end of your session, it tells you how many minutes you were on and tells you what the price will be, although it’s pretty easy, as it’s 50 cents a minute on the internet and $1.00 per minute to print. Your room bill then shows that charge and a credit to remove it. Pretty cool!! One of THE best perks for past passengers there is, I think!! I presume it’s new with the new PC memberships, but the cruise cards now show your Princess cruise status by what color your cruise card is. Platinum Club members have a silver colored card, so it’s very easy for folks to see your PC status. I don’t know whether there have been that many Platinum Club members sailing on the TP yet, but we did seem to get many crew members to comment on the PC status, so I guess the answer would be no. I think that the percentage of PC members sailing in the Caribbean would probably be much higher and I surmise that one would not get much extra attention there, but it was nice on the TP.
MONEY EXCHANGE– Most places we saw were giving around 104 or 102 for the exchange rate for CFP. To us, that really wasn’t worth the trouble to try to exchange much money, so we didn’t. Basically all the tour operators that we dealt with and the folks selling pareos or whatever, took dollars at $1 to 1000 CFP, so it really wasn’t worth worrying about, to us. And, btw, they did have an exchange available on the ship, which was trading at 104 when we were on. We didn’t bother with exchanging money in the Cooks at all either.
SNORKELING GEAR– You really do need your own snorkeling gear if you’re going to do any snorkeling on TP, as almost all of the tour operators–even on tours booked THROUGH PRINCESS– do NOT have their own gear. I don’t know, I guess they either figure folks are going to bring it from home, or that the hotels provide it?? Don’t know. Apparently Princess is trying to get their tour operators to provide snorkel gear, but it’s a losing battle so far. I know it’s a pain to haul, but try to get everything you need and take it with you. But, good news, not ALL is lost, provided they don’t run out, there is SOME snorkel gear available for purchase in the onboard shops. Cheap stuff, but the prices are fairly cheap also. Fins were $11.95 (the type that you really need to have aqua socks with also, though), Snorkel and mask around $15.00 and Aqua Socks $19.95. I bought the aqua socks, as I had not found them here at home before I left. They were really invaluable. Try to make sure that you get some before you go, as in many spots, it is really too shallow for fins, and you really do want something on your feet, to protect you from coral and also from the dreaded stone fish, which lies on the bottom and can hurt you very badly if you step on it.
WEATHER– Wow, you could not have hoped for better weather than we had, especially considering it was the rainy season. We had rain pretty much all morning the first day in Bora Bora. Otherwise, basically, we had no rain whatsoever, and calm seas. One could hardly hope for more.
POOL TOWELS– Personally, I think Princess is kind of cheap with their pool towels. Unlike most other cruise lines, which leave pool towels in bins up on the pool deck, your cabin steward leaves two clean pool towels in your stateroom each day. You really need to kind of keep track of your towels during the day, as, if you misplace it, etc., apparently you can’t get another unless you call your cabin steward to get it. We ended up with 4 for most of our cruise, instead of the requisite 2, kind of by accident. We left our towels in our gym bag one evening, as we hadn’t used them that day. The cabin steward brought another two that evening. Therefore, we just kept four for the balance of the cruise, by switching out two clean ones per day. BTW, I don’t really think that we were really putting over a big one on Princess, as other people reported just asking for 4 and getting them.