A Trip to French Polynesia (2 of 3)

Also one flight up from the reception area on the remodeled side of the ship is an enclosed bar with several bar stools and two padded benches. Outside of the air-conditioned bar/lounge is the outdoor swimming pool with lots of deck chairs and loungers. Behind the bar is a small dance floor. The bar is stocked with sodas and diet sodas and standard alcoholic beverages. However, don’t expect any fancy mixed drinks unless you know how to mix it yourself. I asked for a daiquiri and the bartender, Yo Yo, apologized and asked if he could substitute a rum punch. We enjoyed the local beer, Hinano.

Up one more flight is a second sun deck, with both covered and uncovered areas, which has a great view of the sea and the cargo and crane operations in the front of the ship.

From the reception area, just 12 steps down, are the Deluxe A cabins and the 200 series A cabins. It is one more flight down to the 300 series A cabins and the inside B cabins. Our deluxe A cabin was very comfortable with a queen sized bed, an end table and wall light on both sides, a writing table with two chairs, a mini refrigerator, and a closet with hangers on a rod and several shelves. The bathroom had both a shower and a tub. The porthole window could not be opened, but the air conditioning was very adequate.

The A cabins have two lower single berths or in some, bunk style beds to accommodate a 3rd and 4th person, a small writing desk with minor and chair, a luggage table, a closet, and a bathroom with shower. In the 300 level cabins on a rough sea, the window can be splashed by waves – this can be exciting! In the A cabins, one bed can be folded to the wail to make more space in the room during the day. The Inside B cabins are much like the A cabins except without windows and private facilities.

All cabins aboard the ship are air-conditioned and use 220-volt electrical current. Laundry is done at no charge on Tuesdays and Fridays. Extra towels are available for shore excursion swimming.

The standard attire was a t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes. Men might wear a loose short-sleeved shift and long pants at night, while women would wear a skirt, sundress, or long pants. Every woman needs to try wearing a pareo too – hopefully there will be a pareo-tying demonstration on the ship as there was on our voyage. The long Hawaiian style dress is optional. To demonstrate just how informal shipboard dress is, some passengers went to dinner with their hair still wet from the shower and barefoot – yet no one raised an eyebrow!

The meals were hearty and tasty. Breakfast was served from 7-9: am on an open seating basis. The dining room holds about 36 people maximum. The choices everyday were: orange juice, French bread, fresh fruit, eggs and bacon to order, toast, dry cereal, calmed milk, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and some days croissants or pancakes.

On a full cruise there are two settings for lunch and dinner. Both lunch and dinner had a salad/soup/appetizer course, a main course and dessert. Tea (regular and herbal) and coffee (instant decaf in packets is available) were self-served In the lounge after the meal to make room for second seating. There was never a menu repeated and everything was excellent. There was no choice of entree and meals were served family style. Desserts ranged from Peach Melba to baked custard to red banana pastries to yogurt. Appropriate for a French registry ship, French bread and wine were served every lunch and dinner.

Near the end of the cruise, a poolside Polynesian party/buffet was held when the chef pulled out all stops in a variety of foods – and it was picture perfect too. We also ate in three Marquesa restaurants where we feasted on all the local foods: lobster, shrimp, octopus, marinated fish, curried goat on rice, breadfruit, taro, various types or bananas, and watermelon.

The Marquesas on the islands speak very little English and the Aranui crew speak it to varying degrees. Silvia, one of our hostess/guides, was completely bilingual while some of the sailors could only say “hello”. Natalie and Vie are currently the other hostesses, and they too speak fluent English. Though I speak no French, this did not hinder my thorough enjoyment of this trip. The menu is written on a blackboard in French and English. Another blackboard has the schedule of events on it.

We had no TV, radio, or newspapers the entire trip, but it didn’t matter. One becomes so relaxed that the only news needed was our 6pm briefing each day from the hostess to remind us of the agenda for the next day. The important things in our lives were what time we were going ashore, whether we should wear hiking shoes or bathing suits, And if we should bring any money to purchase handicrafts.

Read Part 3