Day 11 - Moorea
|Wednesday, March 2: Hello, Moorea. It's lovely to see you again. The ship's shore excursion manager insisted on pronouncing it "Moo - ooh - ray - a" but the correct pronunciation is "Mo - oh - ray - a." Every vowel is pronounced in the Polynesian language. Moorea is sometimes spelled with an apostrophe to help you remember that it is four syllables: Mo'orea.
|The bridgecam's view from the front of the ship looked great on our cabin's TV.
|We went up to the observation deck for sail in, home of stargazing, story telling, ...
|... and giant chess.
|We were clearly headed for Opunohu Bay, the prettier of Moorea's two bays. We don't know how it is decided, but the cruise after ours moored in Cook's Bay instead. Yeah, Debbie might have watched the webcam after we got home. We were missing Tahiti already.
|At the edge of the land between the two bays lies the Sheraton Moorea Lagoon resort, with overwater bungalows visible on the left.
|We had a fantastic view of the bay from our cabin. Looking to the right, ...
|... straight ahead, ...
|... to the left, ...
|... and to the far left.
|Orchy loves Moorea too.
|Looking down, we could see the tenders being unloaded for our arrival. Let's get on one!
|As the tender arrived at shore, we saw a welcoming party of Tahitians in traditional dress who waved and then paddled along with us as we arrived.
|On shore, dancers put on a show, ...
|... accompanied by these fine gentlemen.
|We got on the boat for our morning shore excursion and headed right back to Opunohu Bay, where our guide told us many interesting things.
|We had wondered what this stuff was when we were on the tender, and our guide told us that it was a shipwreck.
|We turned around and headed away from the bays again.
|We moved very slowly through the lagoon. We followed a narrow channel with reef on either side.
|The channel passed right in front of the Intercontinental Resort.
|Literally, right in front, so there wasn't any privacy on the overwater bungalow patios.
|We passed a tour group who were swimming with sharks and rays.
|We slowed down to take a look as we passed.
|The group was surrounded by plenty of sharks and rays and it looked like great fun.
|In the water near the resort, we saw kitesurfers having a blast.
|The wind was cooperating and they were getting some great speeds.
|Every once in a while, one of them would get airborne like the guy in this photo -- he's the dark smudge who appears to be at least 20 feet off the ground. His kite is so far up that it is out of the picture frame.
|Just offshore were the motus we would be visiting.
|Motu Fareohe is on the left, and Motu Tiahura is on the right.
|We would be spending four glorious hours at Motu Fareohe. Plastic tables and chairs were set up for the lunch we'd be enjoying two hours later.
|We were thrilled to see two rays in the shallow water.
|They were friendly and not at all afraid of humans.
|We got on our snorkel gear as quickly as possible and joined them in the water.
|They're handsome fellows, aren't they?
|We saw a brownspotted sandperch right away.
|Here's a pair of sailfish tang.
|This is a bird wrasse.
|We saw lots of different types of coral. This was particularly unusual, and we only saw it a couple of times.
|Here's purple, ...
|... light purple, ...
|... chartreuse, ...
|... and plain old beige, but in classic coral shape.
|What is this?? No idea, but it appeared to be little balloons on sticks.
|And this? Your guess is as good as ours.
|Every clam must be photographed. By now, it was an official vacation rule.
|Here's Tom, ...
|... and here's Debbie, ...
|... and here's Debbie's favorite fish.
|As we got into deeper water, we encountered more rays, ...
|... more fish, ...
|... and more fish, ...
|... and a helmet dive in progress.
|After a nice long snorkel, we headed back to shallower waters, ...
|... passing this clam and moorish idol.
|We grabbed some chairs and some beverages, and picked a spot in the shade to relax.
|It was hard to stay out of the water long with such friendly natives swimming by.
|Here is a view of part of the beach just down from where we were parked, ...
|... and the view looking toward Moorea.
|At noon, it was time to eat.
|Of course, there was island music to set the mood.
|We grabbed our food and headed back to our spot on the beach. Lunch was barbecue chicken, bananas, French bread, salad, pineapple, rice, pasta, and lemonade. Either it was delicious or we were starving or both, because we wolfed it down.
|We sat and relaxed and amused ourselves by looking at all of the tiny creatures in the sand. Why doesn't this tiny crab have an awesome house ...
|... like this tiny guy? Not to worry -- white crab had a very nice hole in the ground to live in.
|This was one of the largest hermit crabs we saw. He was probably an inch wide and he clearly had places to go.
|With everyone else still gathered around tables by the barbecue hut, we had the water to ourselves.
|That meant that we had Ray (or was this one Ray Junior?) all to ourselves.
|Did we mention he was friendly? He probably expected to be fed, but we were fresh out of ray food.
|He didn't mind.
|He stuck around to play anyway.
|Here we are, enjoying another perfect day in French Polynesia.
|Here's the view to the left, ...
|... and in front of us. The other motu was right across the water from us.
|Back by the barbecue huts and restrooms, we got to know the local wildlife: a half-dozen or so feral cats, ...
|... and a ton of chickens, including this mama chicken and her adorable babies.
|At 2:00, it was time to go. The boats came around to pick us up, ...
|... and we were off.
|It would be a long trip back to the dock, but in weather like this, who cares?
|We retraced our steps, passing the workers we had seen earlier replacing a thatched roof at the Intercontinental, ...
|... and the dolphin lagoon. The fin you see in this shot is the only dolphin we saw on our entire trip, unfortunately.
|Back along the exquisite Moorea coastline, ...
|... and back to the dock. With so many people wanting to get on the tender at once, we chose to do some shopping. We hadn't done much shopping, so we bought a long-sleeve shirt for Tom, and a shell hairclip and black pearl necklace for Debbie.
|Back onboard, we still couldn't believe how gorgeous the view was from our cabin.
|This hill to our left provided some amusement. It featured an extremely steep road, so when Tom spotted a car on the road that appeared to not be plunging to its fiery end, we had to get a photo.
|Sail out was spectacular, as expected. In this shot, you can see both bays -- Cook's on the left and Opunohu on the right.
Tom used Debbie's phone to get this panorama shot of Moorea.
|What a perfect backdrop for some photos, don't you think? Debbie declared this the best photo taken of her in the last decade, ...
|... and Tom looked very handsome in his new Tahitian shirt.
|In the distance, the island of Tahiti beckoned.
|We still had one night left, so we enjoyed our last dinner cocktails. Tom's was always Dos Equis, ...
|... and Debbie picked another colorful frozen drink.
|After dinner, we anxiously awaited Princess Cruiseline's version of the March of the Baked Alaska.
|It's a great bit of theater, and the head chef and the maître d' joined in the spectacle.
|Here's our friendly waiter, Samai, ...
|... and our handsome assistant waiter, Noah. He was so great at refilling our water glasses that Debbie forgave him for offering her fresh ground pepper for every course of every meal even though the answer was always always always no.
|Even better than the March of the Baked Alaska is the Eating of the Baked Alaska. Samai gave Tom a particularly large piece and he ate all of it himself with just a little help from Debbie. Baked Alaska is one of the most delicious desserts in the world.
|After dinner, we packed up our three fantastic Rimowa suitcases and put them out in the hallway for pickup. This is Tom's least favorite part of any cruise. He has some luggage storage trust issues.
We docked much closer to the roulottes on the Papeete waterfront, but we weren't allowed off the ship so we could only gaze at them longingly. But without clothes or appetite, it wasn't really a hardship to stay onboard and go to sleep instead.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy