Cruising in The Islands of Tahiti

August 3, 2022 in Experience

Cruise The Islands of Tahiti in small-capacity ships, perfect for going where large ships cannot. Various cruise options are available for those seeking luxury, culture, or adventure. Explore a range of unique islands and experience the legendary Polynesian welcome at every port of call.

New Regulations as of 2019 (Official Statement from Presidency of French Polynesia)

Repositioning of the destination around four principles, applicable from January 1, 2022:

  • Favor year-round turnaround ships based in French Polynesia, of small and medium capacities (700 passengers);
  • Allow turnaround ships, in transpacific repositioning, up to 2,500 passengers (capacity of the future Papeete cruise terminal);
  • For transpacific cruises, limit the ships capacity to 3,500 passengers. Larger capacity ships put stress on maritime infrastructure, services (transport and activities) as well as on the environment, especially in remote islands. Tahiti, Moorea and Raiatea will be the preferred islands to call upon for these large capacity ships.
  • Refusal of stopovers by very large capacity ships (over 3,500 pax).

Reasons to Cruise The Islands of Tahiti:

  • The new international cruise terminal scheduled to be completed in 2023. ​​The 1.7 billion xpf (USD $71.8 million) Port Autonome de Papeete cruise terminal is scheduled to be completed in March 2023. The terminal, built by the Lacombe firm, will be constructed with attention to bioclimatic principles, including using natural ventilation, greening its spaces (terraces and roof), and 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.

  • Smaller ships and locally-based operators. The Islands of Tahiti favors year-round turnaround ships based in French Polynesia, of small and medium capacities (limited to less than 700 passengers) such as Aranui, Paul Gauguin (Ponant), Variety and Windstar.
    • Aranui: A soft adventure cruise that specializes in the road less traveled. Aranui Cruises has introduced the enchanting Marquesas Islands to avid adventurers for more than 30 years. This unique vessel is crewed by an all-Polynesian staff and accommodates just 230 passengers, offering an intimate and casual setting for guests to explore French Polynesia. The itineraries specialize in a discovery of the Marquesas Islands, where the ship also delivers freight, serving as a lifeline for tiny communities far removed from civilization. The Aranui conducts regular voyages to the Marquesas Islands, as well as annual exploratory cruises to more remote islands inaccessible by air or other passenger ships. Watch teaser.
    • Paul Gauguin: Specifically designed to glide in luxury through the shallow seas of the South Pacific, The Gauguin is a small-ship cruiser’s dream. She delivers travelers to intimate ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships while providing a travel experience that is nothing short of luxurious.
    • Variety Cruises: The Variety Cruises passion remains unchanged since 1968: an alchemy that blends enriching oneself educationally and exploring the true identity of a destination, while enjoying the comforts and unique benefits of a small ship sailing the seas. Today, Variety Cruises is the number one fleet of small ships hosting no more than 72 guests on board. Watch teaser.
    • WindStar: WindStar Cruises is delivering a larger ship, Star Breeze to replace the Wind Star. WindStar announced plans to swap in the 312-passenger Star Breeze to sail year-round voyages in Tahiti which would be at more than double the capacity of the current 148-passenger Wind Star. Windstar Cruises operates a fleet of six boutique all-suite and sailing yachts carrying 148-342 guests. The award-winning line is known for immersive experiences, destination authenticity, port-intensive itineraries, exceptional service, and an innovative culinary program. Watch teaser.

In 2019, cruises represented a quarter of the economic revenue linked to tourism (more than $9 million) and a third of visitors (62,876 excursionists  + 45,225 cruise passengers).

Furthermore, The Islands of Tahiti welcomed turnarounds not only from companies that are locally based in French Polynesia such as Paul Gauguin (Ponant), Aranui, and Windstar, but also, Lindblad Expeditions, Oceania, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Silversea, and many others.

  • Discover many islands and avoid repacking your suitcase. Most locally-based cruise lines feature 7 to 14-day cruise itineraries. In these itineraries, you can visit the main islands in the Society Islands, including Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Tahaa. The longer 14-day itineraries can include more remote archipelagos, including the Tuamotu Islands or the Marquesas Islands.
  • Limited capacity at some islands. New regulations have been implemented to preserve the beauty of the lagoons and marine environments and enhance the visitor experience. In 2019, the municipality of Bora Bora expressed its stand on limiting the capacities of the ships calling on its lagoon. The number of passengers cannot exceed 1,200 per day. This means the visitor experience on these islands is maintained for those passengers arriving on small capacity ships.

The capacity of ships engaged in transpacific repositioning in the Papeete Cruise Terminal will be limited to up to 2,500 passengers. Transpacific cruise capacity will be limited to 3,500 passengers. Larger-capacity ships stress maritime infrastructure, services (transport and activities), and the environment, especially on remote islands. Tahiti, Moorea, and Raiatea will be the preferred islands of call for these large-capacity ships. Ships that have 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”.

  • Vibrant culture and sensational local cuisine. The Islands of Tahiti are more than just beautiful lagoons and untouched white sand beaches. The diverse cuisine of the islands consists of a unique blend of Tahitian, Chinese, and French fare, and the fruit and seafood offerings are always incredibly fresh, local, and flavorful.

Local artisans on each island share their hand-crafted and locally-sourced wares for arriving visitors. Everything from the intricately woven hats and fans in the Austral Islands, carved bone earrings and polished ironwood tikis from the Marquesas Islands, supple and fragrant Tahitian vanilla pods from Tahaa, or strands of mesmerizing Tahitian cultured pearls in lustrous shades silver, onyx, and amethyst from the Tuamotu and Gambier Islands.

Sensual and rhythmic Tahitian dance performances and pulse-quickening Polynesian drumbeats beckon passengers ashore, much like how these same visions and sounds tempted weary sailors and even incited famous mutinies!

  • So much to discover away from the ship. Each island offers something unique to explore when you leave your floating home. Hike or take an ATV tour through the lush pineapple fields of Moorea. Enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Otemanu and the brilliant blue waters of Bora Bora. Savor aromatic breezes scented with vanilla in Tahaa. Discover ancient temples, swim with sharks and rays, dive with dolphins, taste delectable fresh fruits and seafood, and finally, feel the embrace of the Mana, the spiritual force of the islands.

Watch the cruise teaser, book a cruise package, view entry requirements or learn more about The Islands of Tahiti by visiting our website.

About Tahiti Tourisme North America

Tahiti Tourisme North America (TTNA) is the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for the country of French Polynesia, more commonly known as The Islands of Tahiti. As the DMO for The Islands of Tahiti, TTNA oversees all marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions, events and travel advisor programs in the United States, Canada and Mexico. TTNA works regularly with airline, cruise line, hotel, resort, tour operator, travel advisor and consortia partners from prospective business development to product launch and marketing initiatives.

About The Islands of Tahiti

Located in the South Pacific, The Islands of Tahiti are just eight hours by air from California. Surrounded by pristine, crystal clear blue waters, the 118 islands and atolls offer natural beauty, authentic island culture, and unique French Polynesian style. Located in the South Pacific, The Islands of Tahiti are just eight hours by air from California, on the same side of the International Date Line as North America, and are in the same time zone as Hawaii. The Islands of Tahiti are world-renowned for their white-sand beaches, stunning turquoise lagoons and varied landscapes ranging from coral atolls to volcanic mountain peaks. Each island offers a variety of accommodation experiences from luxurious resorts with overwater villas, to family guesthouses, to sailing via private charter or scheduled cruise. Privacy comes naturally in The Islands of Tahiti, one of the few untouched sanctuaries left in the world where visitors can relax, reconnect, and experience Mana, the life force and spirit that flows through everything. Whether you come for adventure, romance, or relaxation, you will discover that the spirit of Mana that flows through our land, sea, culture, and people will make you Feel Treasured.