Day 42, Feb. 16:
Humberto and I were fortunate to visit Tahiti in French Polynesia a year ago so we were overjoyed at the opportunity to return to “paradise” during our World Cruise with a call at Papeete, the capital. During our previous visit, we toured both sides, Tahiti Nui (Big Tahiti) and Tahiti Iti (Small Tahiti) – they looks like a number eight floating on its side on the ocean. We marveled at its green-clad mountains, volcanoes, aquamarine beaches, and such points of interest as the Arahoho Blowhole (where water shoots up like a fountain on the coast), the Papeete Market (Marche de Papeete) and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with its red steeple. Both the Market and the Cathedral are just a couple of blocks from the cruise ship pier in Papeete and so is the city’s seaside promenade that recalls the ones in French Riviera towns. Papeete, by the way, is a very cruise passenger-friendly port: two folkloric groups gave us a warm reception upon arrival.
Farther from the city, the Gauguin Museum is a must-see with exhibitions in honor of the French Post-Impressionist artist who lived and painted in Tahiti and reveled in the island’s colorful blooms and culture. There are no Gauguin originals at the museum, but exhibits shed light on the painter’s life. Other Tahiti highlights we also took in during our previous visit were Point Venus on the north coast, where Captain James Cook observed the transit of Venus in the 18th century, the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, with exhibits about the history and culture of Tahiti and the Arahurahu Marae, a restored ancient temple.
This time, we, along with Duffy “our bear that went around the world,” wanted to explore another aspect of the island: wonderful relaxation by the sea. So we arranged for a day use room at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort, a 15-minute taxi ride from the cruise pier. Talk about “paradise!” Our room’s terrace overlooked the crystalline waters of one of the resort’s beaches. We spent time on the beach with its fine talcum-powder-like sands and refreshing waters like a friendly embrace and relaxed on the resort’s hammocks. We enjoyed a cool beverage and lunch right on our terrace, fanned by fresh breezes and serenaded by chirping birds.
Upon our return to the ship, the cruise staff had a big treat in store for us: a Polynesian barbecue poolside on the Lido Deck. A veritable feast with ribs, chicken, fish, whole roasted suckling pig and all the fixings including corn on the cob, baked beans, baked potatoes, mixed vegetables, coconut rice and tables laden with a variety of salads and fruits – fresh pineapple slices, anyone? We could supplement the spread with about a dozen desserts from the Lido Restaurant, including luscious chocolate cake. Another delight, O Tahiti E, a six-member folkloric troupe came on board to entertain us with songs and dances of French Polynesia – the perfect end to our footloose, fancy-free day in French Polynesia.
Freelance travel writer Georgina Cruz and her husband Humberto are currently sailing on Amsterdam’s 112-day Grand World Voyage and will be sending in cruise diaries throughout their time on board. She has logged 174 voyages to all seven continents and visited more than 100 countries.