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December 9, 2023

I was up by 5:45 AM. After almost a week in French Polynesia, I still was not totally adjusted to the time difference. In this case, it worked to my advantage on early mornings. At the time, French Polynesia was 5 hours behind east coast U.S. time. I gazed out from our balcony and saw the mountainous island of Moorea which was stunning. I was surprised that our ship was still moving. Moorea is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Tahiti yet we had been traveling all night and had not arrived. I was told that Moorea is one of the islands where Tahitians go to escape the hustle and bustle of Tahiti.

approaching Moorea

This was the only morning that Traci and I had breakfast at the buffet instead of the Windows dining room or The Local. Traci does not like buffets because of the germ factor and worries about how long the food has been sitting out. However, since we needed to meet for our shore excursion by 7:50 AM and Windows did not open until 7:30, we thought we had no other choice. We would later find out that we could have gotten served breakfast at The Local.

We were tendered ashore. The word that comes to mind when I think of Moorea is "stunning". It is a lush green mountainous island. Our excursion for the day was Norwegian's "Aito Off-Road Safari". I really enjoyed this one. Eight of us were loaded into the back of a covered truck. We bounced along a muddy path through the forest. We had to lean in at times to avoid getting hit by tree branches. I learned this the hard way after getting wacked in the side of the face by a branch of wet leaves.

Our first stop was at a river to see the famous blue-eyed eels of Moorea. One of the guides attracted them with food. I was surprised by how big they are. They are not endemic to the island. Unfortunately, I don't remember from where the guide told us they were introduced.

We continued on to a pineapple plantation in the beautiful Paopao Valley. Our guides picked a few and stopped a little further down the road to pick some grapefruits. We enjoyed these fruits later at a breathtaking overlook called Belvédère Lookout. The grapefruit was a little more tart than I am used to but it made the fresh pineapple taste very sweet. I loved both fruits.

The tastings were probably my favorite aspect of this excursion. We stopped at a souvenir shop that offered tropical liqueur tastings. We visited a vanilla farm located at the Moorea Tropical Garden. Although we did not taste any vanilla, we were given different flavors of jams to taste - all delicious. To top it off, we had incredible views of Opunohu Bay during the tastings.

We visited a park were we saw our first marae. A marae is an ancient site where sacred Polynesian ceremonies used to take place. It looks like a plot of cobblestone with low stone walls. Our guide gave us a short Polynesian history lesson. We would visit a marae that is much more famous during our visit to the island of Raiatea.

Aito Off-Road Safari Shore Excursion

blue-eyed eels


Belvédère Lookout


enjoying the Moorea scenery


A marae is an ancient Polynesian cermonial site.


pineapple plantation in Paopao Valley


traveling by 4WD vehicle


It was a wonderful 4-hour shore excursion made even more wonderful by our fellow passengers - 2 couples from Australia and a couple from Texas. We all had a great time getting to know each other. The couple from Texas were Joe and Tracy. It turns out Joe and I are software developers for the same company.

Our shore excursion ended at the right time. It had been a hot, humid day but just as we were returning to our starting point, the clouds finally made it over the mountain and the rain began.

Traci and I had a quick look around the souvenir stalls at the pier but did not buy anything. I had already bought my Moorea refrigerator magnet at one of the souvenir shops we visited during our tour. We decided to take the tender boat back to the ship.

Back on the ship, we were ready for lunch. We had our first meal at The Local. It is open 24/7. I had wings and Traci had fish & chips. I fell in love with their pretzel bites and cheese.

We enjoyed the ship activities for the rest of the day. I joined a ring-toss competition and a trivia game. I ended up meeting some passengers from Paris and Tahiti. This gave me another opportunity to speak French. We would speak French each time we ran into each other for the rest of the cruise. This delighted me because it is rare that I get to communicate in the language outside of practicing with my French conversation group two Saturdays per month.

ring-toss competition aboard the Norwegian Spirit

I took some time to finish unpacking. It was a good feeling knowing that for the next two weeks, we would be free of the almost daily packing and unpacking we had been doing since we arrived in Tahiti. You are not allowed to bring an iron aboard the Norwegian Spirit; however, you can request an iron be brought to your cabin between 9 AM and 9 PM. I requested one so that we could iron our clothes for this cruise and hang them in the closet.

Traci and I dined at the Taste dining room for dinner. Taste would become our regular dinner venue for the rest of the cruise. We attended the comedy show featuring comedian Mike Siegel in the main theater after dinner. Most of the shows in the theater lasted exactly 45 minutes. The comedian did a good job. I laughed several times.

Traci went to the Newly Wed/Not So Newly Wed game show. I was too sleepy to attend. I was asleep by 9:30 PM. I eventually got to see the game show later in the week because the ship showed it repeatedly on the television. It was funny but I have no desire to be a contestant. Some of those questions/answers were just too embarrassing. I definitely would not want to watch myself on the ship's TV channel over and over. Continue...

Magnet Purchased At This Destination: (click to enlarge)

Entire fridge magnet collection...


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