In the travel world, few topics are more divisive than cruises. While millions of people love exploring islands via cruise ships, many others (myself included), would skip a cruise altogether to experience new destinations by rail, car, and foot. Travel expert Shuneca (@divadaystravel), shares why when it comes to exploring the islands of Tahiti, a boutique cruising experience may be just what you need if you want to see more of the region minus the crowds found on traditional mega cruise ships.
Travel Noire: Why did you decide to take a luxury cruise to Tahiti?
Shuneca: There’s an ease in cruising that I haven’t found with any other travel experience. I knew I wanted to see several of the French Polynesian Islands but I didn’t want to spend time coordinating a bunch of flights and ferry schedules. The convenience of unpacking once and floating from island to island was the perfect way to see several of the islands within a week.
Travel Noire: How was this cruise different from commercial cruises?
Shuneca: Sailing on a small luxury ship is completely different from the mega cruise experiences that are often compared to “floating cities or resorts” with thousands of guests. In contrast, this feels like your traveling with a friend on a private yacht. Both experiences can be fun but they are completely different.
Travel Noire: What was the food on board like?
Shuneca: Cruises are known for food and the small guest counts on these ships allow chefs a platform to elevate the dining experience. They commonly shop port markets for local ingredients to prepare dishes onboard that complement the cuisine of the destinations. In Tahiti, the chefs would display freshly caught fish on ice for guest to see before dinner preparation. It’s absolutely indulgent.
Travel Noire: What was your favorite thing about this experience?
Shuneca: There are so many things I loved, but the service is probably the thing that keeps me coming back to this style of travel. The smaller ships usually have 1 to 1 guest to crew ratios (or better) so everything always feels so intimate and personal.
Travel Noire: What can you tell us about onboard activities?
Shuneca: The onboard activities are designed for enrichment and to immerse you into the destinations. Instead of something like a belly flop or limbo contest by the pool, they will bring local artists onboard for a cultural performance, demonstration or lesson. In Tahiti, locals came onboard and taught us how to make flower crowns and leis!
Travel Noire: What can you tell us about excursions?
Shuneca: Smaller groups of guests allow for much more authentic, relaxed excursions without crowds, feeling rushed or waiting in lines. I personally enjoy exploring at my own pace and the small ships usually offer private driver excursions in addition to having an onboard concierge that will make plans and reservations for you in ports. It’s all excellent but my favorite part of the offered land experiences are the complimentary signature events that many of the small luxury lines create and include exclusively for guests. In Tahiti, Windstar Cruises rented a private motu where we enjoyed the beach during the day and then an incredible evening filled with Polynesian food, music and dance performances by local artists. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Travel Noire: What’s one thing travelers should know about taking a similar cruise?
Shuneca: Travelers considering a similar cruise should know it’s not going to be anything like the mega cruises they’re used to, but I highly recommend it. My personal favorites are Windstar, Azamara and Silversea Cruises. In fact…I’m currently counting down to booked itineraries on all three of these lines. I call that Vacation Motivation!