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February 11, 2020
Papeete: Turnaround Day

Russell writes…

Yesterday afternoon we set sail from Moorea. We had just left land when we turned around and saw more land. It felt like about 15 minutes before we arrived at our next port, Papeete in Tahiti.

(We always thought it was pronounced “paah-PEET,” but the correct pronunciation is “pah-peh-EH-tay.” The correct spelling is Pape‘ete, just as other ports are technically Hawai‘i and Mo‘orea. The reverse apostrophe signifies that you say the vowels as two separate syllables. We will continue to use the simplified spelling for convenience.)

We overnighted in Papeete because today is a turnaround day. Our 131-day world cruise is assembled by stringing together several shorter cruise segments. About half of the Mariner’s 600 passengers were only aboard for the 20-day cruise from San Francisco to Papeete, officially named “Hula Drums & Ukulele Strings.” As a result, several hundred passengers disembarked this morning to return home.

The next segment, “Pink Hibiscus & Blue Mountains,” goes from Papeete to Sydney. (Who comes up with these names?) As a result, several hundred new passengers embarked this afternoon.

We have witnessed turnaround days before, and they are amazing. The crew bids a tearful farewell to passengers who are departing. They then work like crazy to make the ship look brand new again. Then, they cheerfully welcome a new batch of passengers whose adventure is just about to begin.

For those of us staying aboard, we got a day in Papeete. We had a leisurely morning to leave the ship and walk into town. Since we arrived near sunset yesterday, we were not prepared for the cacophony of sight and sound that greeted us ashore this morning. The pristine wilderness of Moorea was replaced by crowds, car horns, traffic and modern shopping malls that surrounded the pier. Fellow passengers who had been here years before were dismayed at how built up and commercial Papeete has become.

We didn’t journey far. We walked around the marketplace, where Russell looked for a souvenir magnet (which he found) and Gail looked for a souvenir mobile (which she didn’t find).

Papeete from afar

Papeete close up

The marketplace

We had a much better time with our after-lunch excursion, “Sailing Escapade by Catamaran.” There was no bus! Instead, we walked right off the ship and onto a nearby 65-foot Maxi catamaran. We sailed for two hours from Papeete down the west coast of Tahiti. Once we entered a lagoon past Taapuna’s Passage, we were able to snorkel for an hour at a nearby coral reef. Gail couldn’t snorkel due to her recent ear surgery, but she was content to float in the water with fins and a foam noodle while Russell snorkeled.

The Maxi catamaran OHANA

Gail goes through the three stages of realizing she’s on a catamaran in Tahiti

Gail floats

Russell snorkels (yes, that’s Moorea in the background)

Over the past two weeks, we have had many amazing moments where we’ve simply stared at each other and exclaimed, “Look where we are!” Skimming through crystal-clear blue waters on a catamaran in Tahiti has been one of the best.

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