A fresh look at cruising in The Islands of Tahiti: Sailing into clear waters with revised protocols and new itineraries
The Islands of Tahiti are the world’s ideal year-round playground for cruising, with 118 islands and atolls set across 5 archipelagos filled with land and sea excursions including snorkelling, SCUBA diving, ATV tours, hiking, cultural immersion experiences, shopping and more. With a yearly average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius, visitors will enjoy sparkling crystal blue waters and optimal weather all year round.
The destination invites travellers to cruise in small-capacity ships, perfect for going where large ships cannot, revealing exotic islands and friendly locals. Various cruise options are available for those seeking luxury, culture, or adventure, taking in a variety of unique islands, experiencing the legendary Polynesian welcome at every port of call. Most locally based cruise lines feature itineraries of 7-14 days, where passengers can visit the main archipelago of the Society Islands, which includes Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Raiatea and Tahaa. Or you can opt for the longer 14-day itineraries that include the more remote archipelagos, such as the Tuamotus or the Marquesas Islands.
In the past year, The Islands of Tahiti has welcomed turnarounds not only from companies such as Paul Gauguin Cruises, Aranui and Windstar, but also Ponant, Lindblad Expeditions, Oceania, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Silversea, and many others, and has succeeded in becoming a globally recognised cruise destination, with a stable and controlled development model.
News for 2022 and beyond
From May 2022, The Islands of Tahiti will welcome Variety Cruises for new, year-round operations out of the destination. Various itineraries include a seven-night cruise in the Society Islands, as well as 10-night and 11-night cruises in the Society and Tuamotu Islands. The M/S Panorama II is the perfect small ship to explore these idyllic islands, easily accessing the islands’ crystal-clear lagoons through passes and taking just 30 to 49 passengers close to shore. The programs feature optional excursions in most islands visited, many of which will allow guests to discover the historical and cultural heritage of French Polynesia and its unique underwater life and treasures.
New Cruise Terminal Scheduled to be Completed in 2023
This year, the first stone was laid for the ground-breaking 1.7 billion xpf (US$71.8 million) Port Autonome de Papeete cruise terminal. The work is scheduled to be completed in March 2023. The terminal, built by the Lacombe firm, will be built with bioclimatic principles, for example, using natural ventilation, greening its terrace and rooftop spaces, or even using a rainwater recovery system. Exhibition spaces will also be planned to raise public awareness of the maritime history of The Islands of Tahiti and offer a showcase for traditional crafts.
Representing 12% of GDP and 20% of all jobs in French Polynesia, the tourism sector is a crucial piece of the destination’s post-pandemic recovery. As part of that recovery, new regulations have been implemented in order to preserve the beauty of its lagoons and marine environments, as well as enhance the visitor experience. In 2019, the municipality of Bora Bora expressed its stand on limiting the ships capacity calling in its lagoon. The number of passengers cannot exceed 1,200 per day.
The capacity of ships engaged in transpacific repositioning in the Papeete Cruise Terminal will be limited to ships up to 2,500 passengers and for transpacific cruises, ship capacities are limited to 3,500 passengers. Indeed, calls of larger capacity ships put stress on maritime infrastructure, services, as well as on the environment, particularly in remote islands. Tahiti, Moorea and Raiatea will be the preferred islands of call for these large-capacity ships. Vessels with more than 3,500 passenger capacity will be refused. This positioning is the result of a shared vision of sustainable and inclusive development integrated into the 2021-2023 recovery plan for French Polynesia as well as in the tourism development strategy, “Fari’ira’a Manihini 2025”.
For more information on cruising in The Islands of Tahiti, please visit https://tahititourisme.com.au/en-au/activities-in-tahiti/cruises-and-sailing/ View entry requirements and learn more about The Islands of Tahiti by visiting https://tahititourisme.com.au/