I had visited Papeete previously but had always wanted to visit the outer islands of Tahiti –and what better way to do it than on a cruise? It didn’t take long for me and my husband, Dave, to choose Windstar Cruises’ beautiful sailing yacht, Wind Spirit.
We chose this ship as it was smaller than the conventional cruise ships, and different. And I have to say we were not disappointed: the 5,736-ton, 110-metre Wind Spirit can accommodate 148 passengers and on our seven-day voyage which began on 4 December we had 100 guests and 98 crew.
We flew to Tahiti two days before the cruise departed and stayed in Papeete. On the sailing day we walked to the pier as the ship was berthed right in town! From the moment we checked-in and boarded you could feel the friendliness of the staff. There were no big queues and very little formality and everything was very relaxed. Our luggage was whisked away and once we were up the
gangway we were given lovely refreshing towels and were taken through to a lounge where Champagne cocktails were waiting. We sat in comfortable chairs and finished our check-in process – a lovely way to start our holiday. Our stateroom, where our luggage was waiting, was larger than we expected, with plenty of storage space. We then had a leisurely lunch and the rest of the afternoon was free until 5pm when we had a safety drill.
Wind Spirit set sail at midnight for the short voyage to Moorea. Here we arranged to do our own tour with a couple from the US and spent the day seeing the sights. I have to say that at every port we visited there were plenty of optional excursions to choose from, especially waterbased activities. I had been a little bit worried about this as my husband prefers land activities – but I needn’t have worried because we kept ourselves fully occupied. That evening we dined in the ship’s main restaurant, AmphorA, which serves gorgeous French food with Tahitian influences. And as the chef hails from India, there were some Indian twists as well.
After dinner everybody went upstairs for our sail-away cocktail, and at every departure from port, Vangelis’s Conquest of Paradise overture was played and the six sails were hoisted. It sent chills down the spine and the feeling didn’t change; it became a definite “must-be-there” on every departure.
The next day took us to the island of Taha’a where we spent the day on a private motu (island). Here we snorkelled and kayaked, had an amazing barbecue lunch and listened to live music while sipping cocktails. We set sail again at 5pm and arrived at our next destination, Raiatea, at 6pm, a very short way just across the lagoon. Here we did a tour of the ship’s galley the next morning that included the chef taking us ashore to the local market where he showed us the many different local fruits and vegetables. We sampled quite a variety of fruits and the chef was very informative.
Next it was off to Bora Bora for an overnight visit. We went on a four-wheel-drive tour around the island and I gave up counting the number of overwater bungalows at the resorts we passed by. That evening we went to a private motu that Windstar had hired for us. Everything was perfect, right down to the white tablecloths on the picnic tables, and very grand. There was a performance by local dancers and for the grand finale, fire dancers. It was a spectacular night.
The next day, a handful of passengers returned to the motu to kayak and snorkel, and I spotted a stingray and a small shark. With so few people it was quite surreal: you felt like you were on your own deserted island. Our last stop was Huahine, the “Garden Isle”, where we took a tour of the island and visited a vanilla plantation and a pearl farm with a very knowledgeable guide.
All good things have to come to an end and the next day we arrived back in Papeete and reluctantly disembarked. I have to say that with the wonderful service on Wind Spirit and the impossibly beautiful places we visited, our voyage around Tahiti’s outer islands was an experience we will never forget.
Have you been on a Windstar Cruise before? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments section below.