Trish and I were in the Society Islands (Tahiti, Raiatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora and Moorea) for a seven day cruise (July, 13-20, 2013) on the Paul Gauguin. This is a smaller ship (about 300 passengers). The cool part is that there is an opening on the stern that is used for water sports. For diving, you just jump in the Zodiac and the dive site is about 10-15 minutes away. The two guys in the photograph are crew members.
There is an abundance of fish. The most remarkable were the eagle rays and the giant mantas (there is a cleaning station at Bora Bora). Also, we saw lots of sharks, eels and very colorful smaller fish. The water temperature was about 78 deg F. I wore a 5 mm full suit and was comfortable. Visibility for the most part was very good. The cleaning station for the mantas was inside the reef and was murky. However, it was amazing to watch such large fish suddenly appear out of the fog.
There were about 10 people diving from all the passengers. The mix was American, French and Canadian. Everyone was very nice.
The dives were pricey at $95 (US) for one tank. But the convenience could not be beat. All our gear was cleaned and stored in the dive shop after each dive and then set on the Zodiac the next morning.
The Paul Gauguin is a great ship. I am not a fan of cruises but I would do this again. The food was excellent and the menus’s and buffets varied enough that we could have something different at every meal. I ate seafood the entire week.
Getting to Tahiti is a long day. We left Denver in the afternoon and connected in Los Angeles with Air Tahiti for a redeye. We landed in Papeete at 4:30 in morning. There were polynesian musicians and dancers greeting the flight in the airport! That is a tough gig. We had a day room at the Intercontinental and then boarded the ship at about 3:00 in the afternoon. Overall we had good weather. This time of year is the dry season so no rain but it is windy.
Overall, a great trip.