Tahiti to Florida Cruise – December to January 2009/2010

(Last Updated On: April 18, 2020)

In 2009/2010, Lane and I spent Christmas and New Years cruising on the Pacific Princess.

This was our first “big ship” cruise (at 900 passengers, most of our fellow cruisers considered it a small ship) and it was not exactly what we expected. We loved the places we visited, but discovered we really aren’t cruisers.

The following itinerary includes notes and links to posts from some of that cruise.

Itinerary for sailing the South Pacific and beyond

Friday, December 18, 2009 – Tahiti

Lost in Paradise

The Royal Tahitian

Driving Around Tahiti

On Board the Pacific Princess

It was a bit of a scramble to figure out where/how to board the ship, but the ship’s crew was most helpful in getting me sorted out, registered, and on board with all of our luggage while Lane returned the car.

Now I am in our cabin waiting for Lane, busily unpacking absolutely everything in a failed attempt to keep from freaking out. . . A month! I’ll be here a month!

A Few Last-Minute Errands in Papeete

And so it Begins

We had planned to dine on shore this evening, as we had read that the food stalls that usually assemble near the harbor are a particularly good value and serve very tasty bites.

However, there don’t seem to be any set up this evening (perhaps it is too early), so we decide to dine on the ship.

The ship’s dinning room/restaurant is a large open space at the stern of the ship. Windows wrap around all three sides, providing a view of the city as the sun begins to set. We are greeted in a warmly efficient manner by the dining room staff and seated at a table with three other couples who seem to have been chatting with each other for awhile. They are slightly friendly and equally interesting.

Still visible just beyond the windows, Papeete seems very, very far away.

Saturday, December 19, 2009 – Moorea

Moorea at Daybreak

We wake up – with the first daylight – to a mirage. . . Moorea floating dark above the water beyond our window.

A Catamaran Tour of the Lagoon

A Quick Driving Tour of Moorea

It’s a Small World: the Moorea Shopping Edition

Leaving Moorea

It’s so beautiful it’s hard to look away.

Sunday, December 20, 2009 – Bora Bora


I think the long days at work and then traveling here have caught up to me: I am so tired when morning arrives that it is hard to get out of bed – even with Bora Bora beckoning.

Of course I do get up.

In port in Vaitape

We are brought ashore at the little port town of Vaitape, which consists of a small dock, a visitor’s center, a craft sales area, a church, and a few small stores. On a Sunday, much of it is closed.

In and Out of the Lagoon

Afternoon on the Pacific Princess

Bye Bye, Bora Bora

cruise ship deck and island of Bora Bora

panorama of Bora Bora

Monday, December 21, 2009 – At Sea

We woke up to brilliant sunshine, ate breakfast under deep gray clouds, met some fellow passengers at a meet-and-greet while thick fog rolled in, and headed back down to our room as rain washed against the windows. I guess weather changes fast here in the South Pacific.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 – At Sea

Still at Sea

It is lovely and cool this morning, with bright skies, a lovely breeze, and temps that are more likely in the high 70s than the high 80s. Sooooo pleasant!

Settling In

Whether it will remain still or not remains to be seen, but we’ll be “at sea” a lot on this cruise, so we are trying to figure out how we want to spend those sea days.

Of course, Princess provides a number of options.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 – At Sea

All is Calm

Another gorgeous day with really pleasant temperatures.

The Noon Report

At noon each day the ship’s whistle (horn?) blares, causing everyone to jump.

That is followed by the Captain or Officer of Watch announcing the time, latitude and longitude, weather and sea conditions, direction of travel and speed, current speed, and probably a few other things before wishing us a good day on the “fabulous” Pacific Princess.

Evening at Sea

The pool bar has closed, but we’ve found a comfy spot in the pool area where there is a lovely cool breeze – I think this might be what one version of heaven is like. There is no one out here except for us, two people in the hot tub, the two deck attendants quietly rearranging the chairs for the coming day, and the ocean all around.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pitcairn Island comes to visit (At Sea)

Friday, December 25, 2009 – At Sea

Saturday, December 26, 2009 – At Sea

Sunday, December 27, 2009 – Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Dawn at Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui coast

At the harbor

Ahu Akivi
Rano Kau
Sailing Away

Monday, December 28, 2009 – At Sea

Looking Back at Where We’ve Been

pano of sea from the back of the ship

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 – At Sea


Apparently someone on the ship has been on line doing research and determined that there isn’t another ship within at least 300 miles of here. There are no shipping lanes in this part of the Pacific, no real reason for anyone to be here (the usual route between Easter Island and the mainland would run to the south of us, connecting to Santiago) . We really are in the middle of nowhere!


I’m not sure whether humans settle into routines because we crave the comfort of familiarity or simply because it is easy and requires little thought, for example: “I sat here yesterday and nothing bad happened, so I’ll sit there again today.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 – At Sea

Thursday, December 31, 2009 – At Sea

Worrying About My Nazca Tour

We are running behind.

New Year’s Eve

Friday, January 1, 2010 – San Martin, Peru

In Port
Nazca Lines Tour

Saturday, January 2, 2010 – Lima, Peru

Callao (Lima)
Along the Coast in Lima
Shopping at the Craft Market
Too Many People!

Sunday, January 3, 2010 – Lima, Peru

San Francisco Church and Monastery
Plaza Mayor
The Cloisters at Santo Domingo
The Park of Love
Casa Garcia Alvarado
Rather Random Thoughts on Urban Form in Lima

Back Out to Sea

We glide out of the harbor, past the fishing boats large and (very) small, container ships, and – finally – the coast itself.


At mid-afternoon the bridge announces that whales are visible off the port side, but all we see are (very large) spouts far in the distance.

Later there is another announcement: Dolphins!

Sure enough, there is a large pod along the starboard side. Some seem to be challenging the ship, racing through the water very near our bow with incredible speed, others leaping toward us farther out in the water. There are so many of them, leaping as if for the sheer joy of it.

Almost Sunset

Monday, January 4, 2010 – At Sea

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 – Manta, Ecuador


We are in another industrial port, but this is a fishing port and birds swirl around us.

We are particularly partial to the frigate birds, although I do wonder if the peregrine that hitched a ride with us from Lima will decide to depart here.

Panama (Ecuador) Hats!
The Nut Factory
At the Boat Yard
Around Manta (and at the Mall)
In a Tuna Port

Wednesday, January 6, 2010 – At Sea

Rougher (but not very rough) Seas

Report from the Bridge

Every day we get reports from the bridge telling us our latitude and longitude, wind speed, speed, barometer reading, weather, and course. These are not things that generally interest me, but it is cool to hear them announcing we are at zero-something degrees latitude.

Thursday, January, 7, 2010 – The Panama Canal

Daybreak outside the Panama Canal

Lane wakes up at dawn to find that we have entered the holding area for ships waiting to enter the Canal.

cargo ships

Miraflores Lock

Pedro Miguel Lock

Friday, January 8, 2010 – Kuna Yala, Panama

Saturday, January 9, 2010 – Costa Rica

Costa Rica Through the Bus Window
A Sunny Day in the Rain Forest

Sunday, January 10, 2010 – At Sea


Until Lane mentioned it when we were still off the coast of Ecuador, it never occurred to me that the tiny-seeming Caribbean could be rougher than open Pacific.

The View from Deck 5

I can’t stop staring at the water.

deck with waves beyond

The swells have been building all afternoon and, according to the officer of the watch, they will likely continue to do so due to the storms pushing south from the US.

Monday, January 11, 2010 – At Sea

No Access to Deck 5

Although the seas have settled down a lot compared to last night, the wind is – apparently – ferocious and all the outside decks are closed. The pool area, sheltered behind windows, is open, but the pool has been drained.

This morning the spray from the bow was hitting the windows (hard) up in the lounge on Deck 10, which was pretty impressive.

There is a beautiful sunset tonight, but no clear windows from which to view it. . .

Ok. I’m more than ready for calm seas now. This is getting old.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Almost time to head home

At lunch today (a lovely risotto for me), it occurs to me that perhaps cruising like this is really some type of pleasant purgatory or limbo – it’s almost a suspended state of being. It feels disconnected from everything, including the sea.

I’m not saying it’s bad – it certainly is pleasant (and mindless) enough, but it seems rather unreal..

I guess I’m ready to go home and plunge back into a far less predictable (and more stressful) world. . . although it will be strange to dine at home, just the two of us, without Franz there to welcome us or Laszlo and the other waiters buzzing about in their well-rehearsed dance or our tablemates to share their take on the day.

It feels as if one could float along like this forever.



We did arrive in Florida – but (obviously) it was pretty anticlimactic!


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