Bora Bora. Moorea. Tahiti. The Romance of the South Pacific is Calling.
With a ban on large cruise ships to protect “over-tourism,” small luxury ships are the key to intimacy, romance, and embracing the legendary islands.
Across the Pacific and under the Southern Cross are the fabled islands of French Polynesia – considered by many to be one of the most beautiful and romantic destinations on Earth.
So as not to be “loved to death,” French Polynesia, commonly referred to simply as Tahiti (which is also the main island in the chain of 100+ islands and atolls), has banned large cruise ships with more than 3,500 passengers from calling on the islands. Only ships with 2,500 passengers or more can berth in Tahiti and Moorea, while Bora Bora only allows 1,200 passengers a day.
These regulations designed to protect the destination and lessen crowds only enhance the experience provided by 312-guest Star Breeze, an all-suite, luxury yacht operated by United States-based Windstar Cruises.
Given the limited number of hotels and resorts, one of the best ways (and most value-driven that the itinerary offers both accommodations and dining) to see more of the destination is aboard a small cruise ship (and there is no packing and unpacking as you move from island to island, ports, bays, and atolls.
Sailing the islands of Tahiti on Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze takes you from one legendary French Polynesian destination to another. With more than 35 years of cruising in Tahiti, Windstar is the most experienced cruise line in the region, and the award-winning line has developed strong relationships over the years creating programs that give back to local communities: like a partnership with Moorea-based nonprofit Coral Gardeners that both protects and enhances the coral reefs that make Tahiti so vibrant.
Windstar’s recently renovated Star Breeze calls Papeete her homeport year-round, meaning there are ample opportunities to plan a romantic sailing whenever you can escape and fall in love with a destination that is just a few hours further than Hawaii, but a whole world away. Small ships mean big access to Tahiti’s stunning tiny bays, hidden lagoons, and pristine beaches so beautiful they’ll take your breath away. Star Breeze also overnights in destinations like Bora Bora and Raiatea to give guests time to explore, relax, taste, and embrace these almost mythical islands.
Windstar offers an elevated sailing experience given the ship’s multiple dining options, enlarged spa/fitness center, and spacious all-suite accommodations. Star Breeze is large enough to pamper and entertain, yet small enough to tuck into delightful tiny harbors and hidden coves that others can’t reach. The all-suite yacht’s accommodations ALL have ocean views (there are no interior cabins on Windstar) and at least 277 square feet of comfort featuring separate sleeping and living areas. Expect a full-size tub or luxurious shower, as well as Egyptian cotton linens, walkin mirrored closets with ample space, plus granite vanities with a magnifying mirror and chair. Two specialty suites designed to invoke the ambiance of Forbes Five-Star sister properties, The Broadmoor and Sea Island, recently picked up interior design awards in London.
Boasting a staff to guest ratio of 1:1.5 ensures there is attention to every detail of this romantic escape. And because there are at most 312 guests on board, there is no wait list to dine, no multiple seatings to force into your schedule (or tables filled with strangers you must join and make small talk), no upsell for specialty restaurants, plus, included 24-hour room service. With dishes created by James Beard award winning chefs and their best menu creations; local seafood; aged spirits; and fresh produce purchased from local markets by Windstar chefs (often with guests in tow), Windstar Cruises caters to all palates and culinary interests.
All guests receive a personal set of complimentary snorkel equipment for the duration of the cruise and have access to Windstar’s Watersports Platform, which means the South Pacific is your swimming pool as you float, paddle board, and kayak right off the yacht. That’s right, the warm blue waters of the South Pacific are your infinity pool.
Naturally, there is an extensive array of shore excursions to choose from like outings to lush rainforests; shopping (and even diving) for black pearls; drift snorkeling among coral gardens; and experience fascinating Polynesian culture — from tikis to taro to tiare flowers. All Windstar guests get to delve into Polynesian culture on a deserted Tahitian motu, watching the local fire dancers light up the night during a complimentary Bora Bora Destination Discovery Event. Onboard lectures on Tahitian culture (like tattoos) give more insight, while local musicians take center stage for a dose of authentic entertainment.
New this year, Windstar is introducing a shore-excursion taking guests to a Coral Gardeners facility to meet the team, visit the nurseries, and plant their own coral. Guests will learn about the importance of protecting the corals in a hands-on and interactive way. Staff from Coral Gardeners explain their process of selecting heat-resistant coral, growing coral in nurseries, and replanting healthy coral on damaged reefs to restore the entire ecosystem and bring back marine diversity.
To continue to raise awareness, Windstar Cruises has also recently launched an engagement speaker series on board Star Breeze when in Moorea. The informative lecture by a Coral Gardeners team member raises awareness and educates guests on coral reef preservation. To date, Windstar, along with its guests, have adopted over 2,500 corals. Windstar’s goal is to open a dedicated nursery supporting 5,000 corals in 2025.
For couples looking to make their Tahitian cruise the ultimate romantic getaway, Windstar can set up a dinner under the stars and a champagne breakfast in bed, plus a romance-inspired turn down service each night. If that’s not enough love, Windstar can arrange for an Exchange of Vows ceremony (led by the captain) with a flower bouquet, elegant cake, and a champagne toast with canapés for 10 guests. While some guests choose to make this their unofficial wedding ceremony, many opt for a renewal of vows to signify a major anniversary milestone.
Cruise-only pricing is available, but Windstar also offers several Tahitian cruise & air packages that have round-trip airfare from Seattle and Los Angeles to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui, making trip planning even easier. These include pre- and post-cruise overnight accommodations; arrival and departure transfers between airport, hotels, and yacht; and for the Seattle flight, a 3-night pre-cruise stay at the Hotel Manava in Moorea, among other perks.
There are also options to extend or add to a cruise. The new Tahiti & Moorea Foodie Cruise Tour is a three-day extension to Windstar’s seven-day Dreams of Tahiti cruise, with three nights in a garden bungalow at the Hotel Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea; a half-day Moorea food adventure including locally-produced liquor and juice tastings, traditional Ma’a tinito (a Tahitian twist on Chinese food), and stops at exemplary roadside stands; a full day Moorea snorkeling tour of Cook and Opunohu bays with lunch and cultural demonstrations; and transfers.
The Overwater Bungalow & Tahitian Paradises Cruise Tour is a romance-filled three-day extension featuring accommodations in an overwater bungalow at a four-star resort including three nights at the Hotel Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea, a breakfast delivered to the bungalow via canoe, a romantic beach dinner, a half day private car tour, and all transfers.
More details on Windstar’s small ship Tahiti cruises can be found at www.windstarcruises.com/destinations/tahiti/.