Beauty Beyond Every Bend in the Road on Moorea

Day 20, Grand World Voyage

Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023; Moorea, French Polynesia.

Moorea is just a hop, skip and a jump from Papeete. We could see it. So sometime around 5 a.m., while I was sleeping, we motored over and anchored in Baie d’Opunchu.

Within sight of Papeete and only 38 miles in circumference

Eloise and Elaine took off on a snorkeling excursion. I opted for a bus tour of the island. I have enjoyed snorkeling in the past, but lately have found the bobbing of the waves and swells brings on nausea. After such an experience in Papua New Guinea a couple of months ago, I decided to forego snorkeling from the boat (as opposed to from the beach) this trip. We only have a few ports that offer snorkeling, so it wasn’t a hard decision for me. I’ll just steal pictures from my sisters.

A word about tendering, which we do in smaller ports without appropriate docks. We have a few options:

  • If you are on a Holland America tour, you meet in the ship’s MainStage Theater and go to the tender platform as a priority group.
  • If you are a 4- or 5-star Mariner (200+ cruise days), you go to the Rolling Stone Lounge to get a ticket and wait for your escort to the platform.
  • If you are in a Neptune Suite or a member of Club Orange (pay more for upgraded benefits) or are one of the 44 members on board of the President’s Club (1,400+ days), you can just go directly to the platform.
  • If you are none of the above, you get your tender ticket in the Billboard Onboard Lounge and go when called.

Once the lines have dissipated, usually by mid to late morning, you can just go directly to the platform, usually midship on Deck A. That’s what we did on the only previous tender port, Nuku Hiva.

On past grand cruises, including the 2020 World, Holland America dispensed with the priority boarding perk for 4- and 5-star Mariners, as about 80 percent of the passengers qualified. I haven’t heard complaints about the new system. I think most people on board understand we can’t all tender in at once. There is no priority system for the return trip – usually the wait is short, but there can be a long line as the all aboard time nears. Crew members set up a small shaded area for waiting and provide cold wet cloths, ice water and lemonade.

Back to Moorea. My tour included a twisty road into the island’s jungle interior. Our driver and guide William stopped frequently for photographs at scenic overlooks, at a Marae (or temple) and of the mountain peak used for Bali Ha’i in the musical South Pacific. The musical was actually filmed in Hawaii, but they used film of this peak for the mythical island.

The ATV tour arrives at the overlook
Jo at the Marae in the jungle
The mountain used for Bali Ha’i

Next we circled the island, a distance of 38 miles, stopping for fresh fruit smoothies, black pearl jewelry and the obligatory women’s bathroom line at the store owned by William’s daughter.

The Sofitel is one of three large resorts on the island, offering cabanas over the water.

Our final stop included a small museum devoted to Paul Gauguin and Marlon Brando, who owned one of the nearby small islands.

After we sailed away, the day ended with a Chinese New Year feast on the Lido deck, complete with roasted pig, duck, ribs and shrimp, all kinds of sushi and sashimi and other Asian ­­­specialties. While most of us dress casually in the Lido, many of the Asian passengers dressed in beautiful red jackets and dresses.