Papeete is the capital and largest city on the island of Tahiti. Tahiti is one of the Society Islands. Pepeete is a busy, modern city with traffic problems at times, but filled with beautiful buildings, parks (Bougainville Park is just across the street from the cruise terminal area), and government buildings and facilities.
As our Captain had explained, not being able to reach Papeete was not an option as the ship needed both fuel and provisions. So, with the Raiatea stop a no-go, and with weather not improving, we were headed for an earlier arrival into Papeete than planned, while the weather would make it possible. So, we arrived on the afternoon previous to our expected arrival, with storm clouds overhead, strong winds, and a warning from the bridge that we should all sit down until we were inside the lagoon as the sailing into the harbor would be very bumpy indeed. Safely at the cruise terminal, guests were free to go ashore and many did, despite the threat of rain.
During the night, however, the rain really came down, almost sideways, it seemed, in the strong winds, and as a result many cabins portside on our deck (Navigation), including ours, had some rain seepage across the verandah floor and in through the ship wall, leaving a slightly damp carpet in front of the cabinets on that wall. There was no other damage and the housekeeping department brought large fans and a cleaning crew; within a few hours all was shipshape again.
We'd stayed aboard the previous evening, but ventured out early the next day, raincoats ready, to watch the arrival of the produce trucks, then to visit the Apple Store in the adjacent shopping center (right across the street from the cruise terminal!) so we could get our customary Apple Store picture for our collection. We saw other passengers and crew members there too! There's usually free wi fi at all Apple Stores, for one thing. (We're not sure about this; the store is an official reseller and it may or may not offer wi-fi at all times. Oh! the prices! Everything in the store was much more expensive than it would be back in the United States.
We then wandered through the adjacent city park, where the landscape is just lovely and local families were enjoying the day there, many with mid-morning snacks to enjoy at the tables. A little rain doesn't stop anyone living there from enjoying their park!
By now we'd been at sea for more than two weeks and fresh produce, dairy, etc, were needed. Back inside the cruise terminal area we wandered through a local crafts and entertainment area and then, adjacent to the ship, watched in the light rain as truck after truck pulled in, unloaded crates, and waited until someone on the culinary team opened a carton at random, reached into the center for an item, peeled or pulled it open and tasted it. Most were waved right onto the ship, but a few crates and cartons were sent back. As the Culinary Operations Manager told us later, as he stopped by our dining room table for a chat, "I spent a lot of money for this load of produce and I wanted to make sure it was all top quality." Since the ship was not in a location to get deliveries from the usual HAL sources these items had been flown in from Australia. Earlier in the trip we had heard that a very limited amount of shopping had been done locally, for berries I believe, but the amounts needed for a ship aren't available in most local markets.
After lunch we met our HAL tour which took us to see such sights as the Arahoho Blowhole, waterfalls, the Gauguin Restaurant (refreshments!) and the Spring Garden of Vaipahi. After a stop at the Papara Surf Beach we headed back to the ship, just in time for sailaway. There's more to see and do here than could be managed during this port call; perhaps we'll return for other opportunities. It certainly wasn't a good time to get out and enjoy the beaches and the water.
Viama Center, across the street from the cruise terminal. Upstairs, toward the back; there are store locator directories.
HAL Shore Excursions
Tahiti's Natural Treasures
Blog Content & Website Design: Marney Wilde • Photographs by George Wilde