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Snorkeling and Diving with Variety Cruises in French Polynesia: Exploring Underwater Wonders

Embark on a breathtaking journey through French Polynesia with Variety Cruises, where the allure of the ocean depths beckons. From the vibrant marine life of Bora Bora’s lagoon to the cultural richness of Moorea, this 17-night transpacific cruise aboard the luxurious Anthem of the Seas promises an unforgettable exploration of underwater wonders and island charm. Dive into this article to discover the highlights of snorkeling and diving in this Pacific paradise, alongside the sumptuous local cuisine and immersive cultural experiences that await.

Key Takeaways

  • The 17-night transpacific cruise offers an extensive itinerary, including stops at Oahu, Moorea, Raiatea, and crossing the International Date Line.
  • Snorkeling and diving in French Polynesia provide opportunities to swim with stingrays, sharks, and explore lush coral gardens teeming with marine life.
  • The Intercontinental Moorea Resort offers a unique experience with its private lagoon sanctuary, where guests can interact with dolphins and turtles.
  • French Polynesia’s culinary scene is a blend of Tahitian and French cuisines, with must-try dishes like poisson cru and coconut crab.
  • Cultural excursions include visiting Tiki Village for traditional Polynesian dances and exploring the dramatic landscapes of Moorea’s mountains and beaches.

Embarking on a Polynesian Adventure: The Itinerary Highlights

Embarking on a Polynesian Adventure: The Itinerary Highlights

Setting Sail from Oahu: The Start of Your Journey

Your journey begins in the vibrant heart of the Pacific, Oahu, where the urban charm of Honolulu meets the majestic beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscapes. As the sun dips below the horizon, the Anthem of the Seas sets sail at 7:00 PM, embarking on a voyage that promises adventure and serenity in equal measure.

The first day in Oahu offers a chance to immerse yourself in the island’s rich history and culture. From the solemn remembrance at Pearl Harbor to the royal grandeur of Iolani Palace, each moment is a step through the pages of history. For those seeking a brush with nature, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay or hiking Diamond Head provides an unforgettable encounter with Hawaii’s stunning biodiversity.

The anticipation builds as the ship navigates the open sea, with the promise of Polynesian paradise on the horizon. The days ahead are filled with the allure of exotic destinations and the tranquility of days at sea.

Here’s a glimpse of the itinerary:

1Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii7:00 PM
7Papeete, Tahiti8:00 AM11:59 PM
8Moorea, French Polynesia8:00 AM8:00 PM
9Raiatea, French Polynesia7:00 AM4:00 PM

As night falls and the ship steadies its course, passengers find themselves enveloped in the excitement and mystery of the journey ahead. The Anthem of the Seas is not just a mode of travel, but a gateway to the wonders of the South Pacific.

Island Hopping in Style: Moorea, Raiatea, and Beyond

As you set sail from the enchanting island of Moorea, you’re greeted by the sight of overwater cabanas and the brightest blue waters imaginable. Moorea’s heart-shaped silhouette is a testament to its volcanic origins, offering beaches with views that seem to leap out of a postcard, and mountain peaks that inspire awe.

Moorea is not just about natural beauty; it’s a cultural hub too. A visit to Tiki Village immerses you in traditional Polynesian dance, while the Moorea Marketplace and Le Petit Village offer a treasure trove of local crafts, including the sought-after black pearl and intricately embroidered tifaifai quilts.

Raiatea, known as ancient Havai’i, is the sacred heart of Polynesia. Here, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Marae Taputapuatea connects you to the rituals of ancient Polynesians. The island’s lagoon, a spectrum of blues, is a sanctuary for reef sharks, rays, and sea turtles, best explored through a lagoon tour.

  • Moorea: Tendered from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Raiatea: Tendered from 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The journey continues beyond these islands, promising encounters with vibrant marine life, sacred sites, and the slow-paced life of Taha’a. Each destination is a chapter in your Polynesian adventure, rich with its own flavors, crafts, and stories.

Crossing the International Date Line: A Unique Experience

As you cruise through the Pacific Ocean, a momentous occasion awaits: the crossing of the International Date Line. This invisible marker represents a change in calendar days, where travelers experience the whimsical sensation of ‘skipping’ a day forward or backward. It’s a phenomenon that adds a touch of magic to your Polynesian adventure.

On Day 13 of the voyage, guests aboard the luxury liner can revel in the unique experience of the International Date Line crossing. This day is unlike any other, as it encapsulates the essence of travel — the blending of time, space, and memory into an unforgettable journey.

While the concept might seem abstract, the reality is marked by celebration and a sense of camaraderie among passengers. The ship’s entertainment venues, like the Music Hall℠ and The Café@Two70, offer special events to commemorate the occasion:

  • Music Hall℠: Live music and dancing with a front row experience from anywhere on the dance floor.
  • The Café@Two70: Gourmet marketplace with meals accompanied by captivating views, perfect for enjoying the day’s unique atmosphere.

Encounters with Marine Majesty: Snorkeling and Diving Experiences

Encounters with Marine Majesty: Snorkeling and Diving Experiences

Swimming with Stingrays and Sharks in Bora Bora

Embark on a mesmerizing boat cruise across the stunning lagoon of Bora Bora, where the azure waters invite you to discover its hidden treasures. As you anchor near a serene sandbank, the elegance of stingrays gliding through the water becomes an enchanting sight. Don your snorkel gear and immerse yourself in the shallow coral gardens, where the friendly blacktip sharks may grace you with a harmless encounter.

The lagoon’s crystal-clear waters offer a safe and unforgettable experience, allowing you to observe these majestic creatures up close in their natural habitat.

For those eager to delve deeper into this underwater spectacle, here’s a quick guide to ensure a memorable adventure:

  • Ensure your snorkel equipment is comfortable and secure.
  • Stay calm and move gently to avoid startling the marine life.
  • Keep a respectful distance from the animals, observing without touching.
  • Follow the guidance of your tour operator for the safest experience.

This aquatic ballet, set against the backdrop of Bora Bora’s lush scenery, promises to be a highlight of your Polynesian journey.

Exploring the Coral Gardens: A Snorkeler’s Paradise

The Coral Gardens of French Polynesia are a snorkeler’s dream, offering an underwater kaleidoscope of vibrant marine life. As you glide over the shallow reefs, you’ll be enveloped in a world of color and movement, with schools of tropical fish darting between the corals.

The warm, clear waters serve as a sanctuary for an array of sea creatures, including the majestic sea turtles and friendly floating turtles. The experience is akin to swimming in a living aquarium, with nature’s artistry on full display.

The lagoon’s aqua waters not only showcase the Polynesian corals but also reveal the symbiotic relationships within this delicate ecosystem.

For those eager to immerse themselves in this underwater wonderland, here are a few tips:

  • Ensure your snorkeling gear fits well to avoid leaks and fogging.
  • Respect the marine life by not touching the corals or animals.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings and currents for a safe snorkeling experience.

The Intercontinental Moorea Resort: A Sanctuary for Sea Life

The Intercontinental Moorea Resort & Spa has carved out a special place in its private lagoon, dedicating it as a sanctuary for marine life in need. Visitors can immerse themselves in the wonders of the underwater world by taking a guided tour of the dolphin center, where they can swim alongside these intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

The resort’s commitment to conservation extends to the turtle sanctuary, a haven for nurturing baby turtles. This initiative not only protects vulnerable species but also offers guests a unique opportunity to witness the early stages of marine life.

The Lagoonarium de Moorea, with its warm, crystal-clear waters, is a testament to the island’s natural beauty. Here, guests can snorkel among vibrant coral gardens and encounter friendly sea turtles that glide effortlessly through the water.

  • Dolphin Center Tour
  • Turtle Sanctuary Visit
  • Snorkeling in Lagoonarium

For those seeking to capture the essence of Moorea, the Belvedere lookout point offers breathtaking views, especially if visited before 10 a.m. The island’s lush jungle landscape and the heart-shaped silhouette provide a backdrop for memories that will last a lifetime.

Culinary Delights and Local Flavors of French Polynesia

Culinary Delights and Local Flavors of French Polynesia

Savoring the National Dish: Poisson Cru and Coconut Crab

The culinary journey in French Polynesia is as vibrant and colorful as its landscapes. Poisson cru, the national dish, is a must-try delicacy that tantalizes the palate with its fresh flavors. This exquisite dish consists of raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk, often accompanied by cucumbers and tomatoes, creating a refreshing and light meal perfect for the tropical climate.

The coconut crab, another local favorite, offers a rich contrast with its succulent meat infused with the sweetness of coconut. This dish is a true testament to the island’s ability to blend sea and land on a plate.

While dining by the waterfront, you’ll encounter a fusion of Tahitian and French cuisines, where traditional recipes meet modern culinary techniques. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect:

  • Poisson Cru: A symphony of raw fish, lime, and coconut milk.
  • Chicken Fafa: Tender chicken cooked with coconut milk and spinach.
  • Mahi-Mahi: Grilled or smothered in creamy vanilla sauce.

Each dish is a celebration of local ingredients and the rich culinary heritage of French Polynesia. Whether you’re indulging in a casual meal by the sea or a fine dining experience, the flavors of these islands will leave a lasting impression.

Dining by the Waterfront: A Blend of Tahitian and French Cuisines

The waterfront dining experience in French Polynesia is a harmonious blend of local Tahitian flavors and classic French culinary techniques. Restaurants along the shore offer a picturesque setting where diners can indulge in the national dish of poisson cru, a delightful combination of raw fish marinated in coconut milk, and savor the richness of coconut crab.

The fusion of Tahitian and French cuisines creates a unique gastronomic adventure, with freshly baked breads, croissants, and pastries from the brasseries, and dishes like mahi-mahi in vanilla sauce reflecting the islands’ culinary heritage.

For a taste of the local fare, consider the following delicacies:

  • Poisson cru: Fresh fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk, often accompanied by cucumbers and tomatoes.
  • Chicken fafa: Tender chicken baked with coconut milk and spinach, traditionally prepared in an underground oven.
  • Mahi-mahi: Enjoy this local fish smothered in a creamy vanilla sauce from Taha’a or served with ginger and lemon sauce for a zesty twist.

Local Markets and the Quest for Authentic Souvenirs

The quest for authentic souvenirs in French Polynesia leads travelers to vibrant local markets, where the air buzzes with the energy of commerce and culture. The Marche de Papeete stands out as a bustling hub, offering two stories of exotic fruits, vegetables, and handcrafted goods. Here, one can immerse themselves in the local lifestyle, haggling for intricate wood carvings or shark tooth pendants that embody the spirit of Tahiti.

In Moorea, the search for the perfect keepsake might end with the acquisition of a lustrous black pearl, a symbol of the islands’ natural beauty. The Moorea Marketplace and Le Petit Village are treasure troves for such pearls and other traditional crafts, including the tifaifai, a quilt embroidered with Polynesian motifs.

Raiatea presents its own unique offerings, with the wharf at Uturoa serving as a focal point for souvenirs and local snacks. It’s a place where one can find items infused with the essence of the island, such as the rare wood that only grows in Raiatea.

For those with a sweet tooth, a visit to Paengaroa to procure manuka honey from Comvita can be a delightful detour. This honey, known for its unique properties, along with local jade and sterling silver jewelry, makes for a memorable and authentic souvenir to take home.

Onboard Anthem of the Seas: Luxury and Entertainment at Sea

Onboard Anthem of the Seas: Luxury and Entertainment at Sea

Accommodations and Amenities: Living the High Life on the Waves

Onboard the Anthem of the Seas, luxury is not just a concept, it’s a tangible experience. Guests are treated to a plethora of accommodations and amenities that ensure a comfortable and indulgent voyage. From the moment you step into your stateroom, the attention to detail is evident, with plush linens, elegant decor, and state-of-the-art technology at your fingertips.

  • Staterooms: Ranging from cozy interior cabins to expansive suites
  • Concierge Service: Attentive staff to cater to your every need
  • Exclusive Lounges: Private areas for relaxation and socializing

The ship’s amenities are designed to offer a seamless blend of comfort and entertainment. Whether you’re looking to unwind or stay active, the options are endless. The FlowRider® surf simulator and North Star® observation capsule provide unique at-sea experiences, while the culinary capital onboard satisfies even the most discerning palates.

Evenings on the Anthem of the Seas are an affair to remember, with performances like Vibeology that remix classic entertainment, and venues such as the Crown & Castle English pub and Vintages wine bar offering perfect pours and late-night beats. The luxury of choice extends beyond the daylight hours, ensuring that every moment of your journey is filled with pleasure and sophistication.

Entertainment and Activities: From Relaxation to Revelry

Aboard the Anthem of the Seas, the transition from daytime exploration to nighttime excitement is seamless. The Music Hall℠ offers a dynamic atmosphere, where each evening is distinct, filled with live music that ranges from rock bands to intimate acoustic sets. The energy here is contagious, and it’s the perfect place to dance the night away or enjoy a cocktail in a cozy corner.

The adventure doesn’t end as the sun sets. From the remixed classics at Vibeology to the laughter-filled performances at the Crown & Castle English pub, every night promises a new experience.

For those seeking a more tranquil evening, the poolside under the stars provides a serene setting. Imagine watching a Hollywood movie with the gentle lapping of waves in the background, or perhaps indulging in a spa treatment designed to rejuvenate both mind and body.

  • Live music and dance at Music Hall℠
  • Movie nights and relaxation by the pool
  • Comedy and live performances at the Crown & Castle
  • Rejuvenating spa experiences

No matter your preference, the Anthem of the Seas caters to all, ensuring that your nights are as fulfilling as your days.

Cruise Dining: A Journey of Flavors

Aboard the Anthem of the Seas, every meal is an opportunity to travel the world through taste. From the Far East flavors at Izumi to the Mediterranean-infused dishes of Coastal Kitchen, the cruise offers a diverse array of culinary experiences. Suite guests can indulge in Pacific Coast favorites and Med-inspired entrees, exclusively at Coastal Kitchen.

The Chef’s Table presents a five-course gourmet feast, complete with wine tasting, ensuring an intimate and memorable dining experience.

For those who crave a more classic steakhouse ambiance, Chops Grille℠ stands out as one of the best cruise line restaurants, offering a 12 oz Grilled NY-Strip Steak among other sumptuous choices.

Here’s a glimpse of the onboard dining options:

  • Coastal Kitchen: Mediterranean meets California
  • Izumi: Asian cuisine
  • Chef’s Table: Gourmet five-course meal with wine pairing
  • Chops Grille℠: Premium steaks and seafood

Exploring the Lush Landscapes and Cultural Sites of French Polynesia

Exploring the Lush Landscapes and Cultural Sites of French Polynesia

The Lagoon Tours: Discovering the Islets of Raiatea

Raiatea’s lagoon is a kaleidoscope of blues, a watery world where marine life thrives among coral reefs. Embarking on a lagoon tour offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in this aquatic paradise. Visitors can snorkel alongside reef sharks and stingrays, a testament to the lagoon’s rich biodiversity.

The serene waters are also home to motu—tiny islets adorned with palm trees and surrounded by white sand beaches. These secluded spots are perfect for relaxation and offer a glimpse into the tranquil Polynesian lifestyle.

The cultural significance of Raiatea is palpable, with the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Marae Taputapuatea along its shores. This ancient temple complex stands as a testament to the island’s historical importance in Polynesian navigation and spirituality.

  • Snorkel with reef sharks and stingrays
  • Visit a Tahitian pearl farm and vanilla plantation
  • Explore Taha’a, the peaceful lagoon mate of Raiatea
  • Discover Marae Taputapuatea, a site of ancient Polynesian ceremonies

While the island’s interior boasts lush trails and botanical gardens, the lagoon’s allure is unmatched. For those seeking to explore, it’s advisable to hire a guide or book a tour, as public transport is limited.

Moorea’s Mountains and Beaches: Nature’s Dramatic Display

Moorea’s landscape is a breathtaking tapestry of nature’s finest work, where soaring green peaks meet the brightest blue waters. The island’s heart shape, a product of ancient volcanic activity, is more than just a charming detail—it’s a gateway to adventure and tranquility.

  • Belvedere Lookout: Offers panoramic views of Cook’s Bay and Mount Tohivea.
  • Opunohu Bay: A snorkeling haven with vibrant coral reefs.
  • Tiki Village: Immerse in Polynesian culture with traditional dances.

The Lagoonarium de Moorea is a sanctuary where warm waters are alive with coral gardens and friendly turtles, encapsulating the essence of Polynesian beauty.

The Intercontinental Moorea Resort and Spa takes conservation to heart, dedicating part of their lagoon as a refuge for sea life. Here, you can swim with dolphins and visit a turtle sanctuary, connecting with the island’s marine inhabitants in their natural habitat.

Tiki Village and Traditional Polynesian Dance: Cultural Immersion

Experience the vibrant heart of Polynesian culture at Tiki Village, where the rhythmic beats of drums and the mesmerizing movements of traditional dancers transport you to an ancient world. The Tiki Village is not just a spectacle but an interactive experience, inviting visitors to engage with the rich heritage of the islands.

At Tiki Village, the past and present merge in a colorful celebration of life, encapsulating the spirit of French Polynesia in every performance.

  • Witness the intricate costumes and headdresses that tell stories of Polynesian mythology.
  • Learn the significance of each dance movement, which often represents elements of nature and historical events.
  • Participate in workshops that allow you to delve deeper into the art forms, from weaving to ukulele playing.

The Tiki Village offers a unique opportunity to understand the deep connection the Polynesians have with their environment and ancestors. It’s an essential stop for anyone seeking to fully embrace the cultural tapestry of French Polynesia.


As our journey with Variety Cruises in French Polynesia comes to a close, we are left with a treasure trove of memories from the underwater marvels to the cultural delights on shore. From the graceful stingrays in Bora Bora’s lagoon to the vibrant coral gardens teeming with blacktip sharks, every snorkel and dive offered a new discovery. The 17-night Transpacific cruise aboard the Anthem of the Seas has been an extraordinary voyage, not just for the destinations but for the experiences that brought us closer to the sea life and the local Polynesian culture. Whether it was swimming with dolphins at the Intercontinental Moorea Resort and Spa or savoring the national dish of poisson cru, each moment was a testament to the beauty and serenity of this Pacific paradise. As we disembark with a heart full of adventures and a camera full of breathtaking photos, we know that the wonders of French Polynesia will beckon us to return to its welcoming shores and pristine waters.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect to see while snorkeling in Bora Bora’s lagoon?

In Bora Bora’s lagoon, you can expect to see stingrays swimming gracefully near sandbanks, and while snorkeling in the coral garden, keep an eye out for blacktip sharks and a variety of marine life in the crystal-clear Polynesian waters.

What is the itinerary for the 17-night Transpacific Cruise on Anthem of the Seas?

The 17-night Transpacific Cruise starts in Oahu (Honolulu), Hawaii, includes several days cruising, stops in Papeete (Tahiti), Moorea, and Raiatea, crosses the International Date Line, continues cruising, and concludes in Sydney, Australia.

What unique experiences does Raiatea offer during a cruise stop?

Raiatea offers vibrant lagoons with every shade of blue, coral reefs teeming with marine life, and the opportunity to visit motu (tiny islets) with white sand beaches on a lagoon tour. You can also take a day trip to Taha’a, known for its laid-back atmosphere.

What kind of sea life can I encounter at the Intercontinental Moorea Resort?

At the Intercontinental Moorea Resort, you can take a tour of the dolphin center, swim with dolphins in their natural environment, and visit the nearby turtle sanctuary, which is home to growing baby turtles.

What are some local dishes I should try while in French Polynesia?

While in French Polynesia, be sure to try the national dish, poisson cru, which is raw fish marinated in coconut milk. Additionally, taste the coconut crab, a savory blend of seafood and sweet coconut.

What cultural experiences can I enjoy in Moorea?

In Moorea, you can visit Tiki Village to experience traditional Polynesian dance and explore the island’s dramatic landscapes, including its heart-shaped mountains and pristine beaches.

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