We had booked a transfer from The Intercontinental Resort to the cruise ship pier with the Princess Cruises representative at the hotel. There were advantages to doing this. Firstly, although the recommendation for normal check-in time is after 2 Pm for speedier processing, our transfer was scheduled for 11 am and we could check in as early as 11:30 am. That gave us lots of time to get settled and still have the afternoon to explore the market and pier-side area of Papeete.
It also meant that apart from having our suitcases ready for pick up by 9 am, we could forget about lugging bags and things in taxis. Check-in was very quick.
We took advantage of being on board early to visit the Lotus Spa on the 10th floor next to the gym. We both booked massages. I booked one for the 31st, thinking that after four days of dancing my body would really need it. I also booked a pedicure thinking that I could get purple polish to match the dress I was going to wear on New Year’s Eve.
One food experience we did not want to miss was a visit to Les Roulottes – the Papeete Food Night Market. Street food dining has taken on a new flavour so to speak, in many cities including Vancouver. From the days when street food meant only hotdogs, pizza or pretzels, the street cart program at least in Vancouver has encouraged a varied “gourmet” street dining experience with carts at different locations throughout the city (Vancouver Foodie Tours Tastes Curbside Kitchen Food).
Papeete has its Roulottes. These are like the street carts we see in Vancouver but they are located in a large market area near the cruise terminal. There are tables to sit at and enjoy your meal. The vendor who was recommended to us was said to serve "restaurant quality" foods.
On my previous South Pacific Dance Cruisewe journeyed from Hawaii to French Polynesia. I flew home from Papeete the day we docked in Tahiti and had no opportunity to see around the island. This time I planned to spend a couple of days in Tahiti before boarding the Ocean Princess to sail in the reverse direction - Tahiti to Honolulu. This would give me time to actually see something of the island of Tahiti.
Since I would be spending Christmas and Boxing day in Tahiti, I chose the stunning Intercontinental Resort in Tahiti as my base for a three night stay. My cabin mate for the cruise was flying into Papeete the day before the cruise. Another friend who is a specialist in tours to Italy, booked a couple of nights in a bed-and-breakfast in Papeete, and we planned to explore the island together.
The first word in French Polynesia is - French. So how did I so badly ignore that very important fact. If I had been planning to travel to France i would have packed my travel adaptors and brushed up on my French but somehow, it escaped me that the electrical outlets in Tahiti would be based on European not North American standards. Naturally none of my plugs fitted so to recharge my laptop battery I had to get an adaptor. The friendly Francophone guest services man came up with one - but when I plugged it in my poor little laptop was buzzing - literally. I hope I am not frying its poor little insides. Anyway next day I bought a better adaptor and the buzzing stopped.
Two years ago I cruised from Honolulu to Tahiti with Dancers at Sea, on the Pacific Princess - South Pacific Dance Cruise. To reverse the cruise that I did in November 2009, I decided to dance in the New Year of 2012, on board the Ocean Princess, this time journeying from Tahiti to Honolulu.
Rather than fly from Vancouver to Tahiti and then Honolulu to Vancouver, I opted for a return ticket to Honolulu where the cruise terminates, an overnight in Honolulu at each end ( so we can attend a dance in Hawaii at the end of our cruise), and a one-way flight from Honolulu to Papeete, to pick up the cruise.
The Air Canada flight to Honolulu was scheduled to leave at a convenient time – 2:30 and get into Honolulu early evening.
For 11 days as 2011 gives way to 2012, I am cruising from Tahiti to Honolulu on the Ocean Princess, with my dance-crazy friends from the Dancers at Sea travel group. My vacation begins with an overnight in Honolulu and a flight to Tahiti where I will stay a few nights at the Intercontinental Resort before the cruise.
This post is the index to the South Pacific Ballroom Dancing New Year Cruise Travelblogue.
Links will become active as the stories are added.
This time I signed up in advance for one of the Princess excursions. It was described as a lagoon trip to a beach on a motu (island) with a beach barbecue.
Despite dancing till 11 Pm the previous night and falling asleep easily, I slept very fitfully. I thought I would be exhausted and just pass out, but I guess I was a bit anxious about that nasty cut on my toe and whether it would be affected by the salt water, since I would hopefully be swimming in the beautiful blue waters surrounding the island.
We anchored in Cook’s Bay, and passengers were taken ashore in tenders. Our excursion to the lagoon for swimming and a beach barbecue, was a whole day one, and we had only had to assemble at 8:45 so that meant a little less rush in the morning. Margaret had also signed up for this excursion.
My heart beat faster as I saw the invitation. A Cooking Contest to be held over two nights on Vancouver Island - and I was invited to be one of the judges. I sipped my freshly-brewed coffee and watched the lights across the waters of False Creek blink out as the morning sky lightened. Perhaps it was the caffeine because my dreams were certainly not opium-induced but my thoughts took off and "ran down pathways measureless to man".
"The Cooking Contest's Judge Gillian - wow. Move over Mark McEwan - I too could become a Celebrity, and then a Star and then perhaps a gig on "Dancing With The Stars" could be in my future. Derek, Tony, Mark, Max - fantastic teachers all - how to choose?
or do they get assigned? Eight hours dancing a day - fantastic. I would never whine like some of those wimpy "stars".
Patches of blue sky were gradually appearing above the rose coloured clouds in the East above False Creek. I took another sip of coffee and thought some more deep thoughts. "How did the Food Network find me? It must be the incisive foodie writing on my Sipping and Supping Blog."
One way to find out. It was clearly time to read the email.
Fairmont Millennium Park
200 North Columbus Drive
Chicago, IL 60601, United States.
Ph: (312) 565-8000
The United flight actually got in a few minutes early, but when i made my way through the lengthy terminal to the baggage claim area, my friend was waiting. As I had only a carry-on bag we were soon on our way downtown.
Probably because it was the start of a long weekend, and the flight arrived around 3:30, the traffic snarl from O’Hare airport e to the Fairmont Hotel at Millennium Park in the heart of downtown Chicago, was horrendous. But we spent the time catching up on events since we had last got together in Vancouver (see Walking Downtown Vancouver in the Summer).