The majority of passengers are from the US but on the January cruise described, the next most-represented markets were Canada, Japan and Australia. As well as three restaurants and a trio of bars, the ship has an internet cafe and widespread Wi-Fi coverage for personal devices, a Deep Nature Spa offering Polynesian massages with volcanic stones and treatments based on hydrating monoi oil, library, small casino and boutique. A seven night round-trip of the Society Islands from Papeete is the signature voyage; longer itineraries take in destinations such as the Tuamotus, the Marquesas, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, PNG and Indonesia. All but two categories of accommodation include balconies or verandas. Virtual tours at pgcruises.com/tour. More: Wiltrans International, 1800 251 174; wiltrans.com.au. Air Tahiti Nui flies from Auckland to Papeete; services connect with trans-Tasman flights. The airline has refreshed its 32-passenger businessclass cabin with lie-back seats and enhanced food and beverage offerings. More: airtahitinui.com. • tahiti-tourisme.com.au have had enough sun, sea and sustenance from waiter Glenn’s floating bar, a raft-like contraption decorated with palm fronds and pandanus leaves that greets each arrival as they wade ashore, along with straw-hatted Les Gauguins and Les Gauguines standing in the shallows, strumming ukuleles.
Most of us have snorkelling equipment from the onboard marina cum aquatic deck (from which kayaks, stand-up surfboards and windsurfers can be taken out at certain anchorages) and so we float in the warm water peering at coral and fish.
Of course, when I return to my deckchair, Juan Miguel’s mates are waiting for me with the biggest coconut (and smiles) imaginable. “Small one for you!” they cry, all but collapsing with laughter. Oddly, my bag remains untouched. But, hang on, here comes a hermit crab race and I seem to be bang in the middle of the track.
Then on Bora Bora there is a longish tender hop for a half-day at a private beach where the local landowner has strung chandeliers made from crushed cans in a grove of trees. The water here is deeper than around the motu and a sand shelf drops just out from shore, forming a perch to swing your legs before taking the plunge.
I seriously contemplate hiding behind the palms and never returning to reality.
Other standouts? There’s an evening catamaran sail off Moorea with Captain Tibo at the helm to see the sunset deepen from rosy pink to tangerine and watch swallows swooping about in great loops. The horizon seems eerily close and we all slurp rum punches from plastic cups and wriggle our bare toes and wonder if we can ever go back to shoes and socks.
As for quality shipboard hours, with a shore visit daily it is a matter of organising sufficient time to enjoy the