After lunch, I headed back ashore about 15:00 for the final walking tour of the day. This was this port’s included tour, comprising a 2-hour guided walk around downtown Papeete.
For those readers that are not familiar with the Viking Ocean experience, I will provide a brief description of optional and included excursions. In every port, Viking provides an Included Excursion, which is complimentary. It isn’t free, as the cost is factored into the cruise fare. Our research into Viking indicates they are predominantly walking or bus tours and can vary significantly in quality. We have a number of included excursions booked and will describe them in detail.
In addition, each port has a number of optional excursions, which incur an additional cost. Depending on length of tours, it is possible to sign up for an optional and included excursion in the same port. We did an optional this morning and I am completing the included this afternoon. In the Cook Islands, we also have 2 tours in one day.
Walking Tour of Papeete
Each cabin has 2 audiovox sets on continuous charge, so I brought it with me, as this is one of the tours where the guide transmits the discussion. On arriving ashore, I was assigned to group 11, so set my audiovox to channel 11. They had about 6 separate groups, which helped to keep the numbers small. We had 11 in our group. During her welcome address, our guide advised she was 63 yrs of age and this was her 4th tour of the day.
We set off through the park outside the port to Bouganville Park, named after French Admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bouganville.
Exiting out the rear of the park, we crossed the street entering another park with a memorial.
Pouvanaa a Oopa was a French politician and Tahitian Nationalist, who worked tirelessly for independence. As leader of the separatist movement, he was exiled and imprisoned in France. He escaped after a few years and made his way back to his beloved Tahiti.
Exiting to the rear of the park we entered the Local Assembly, where we only walked around the gardens. No tour of the Assembly was provided.
Departing the Assembly, we walked the short distance to the Cathedral.
After a brief tour inside the cathedral, we headed for the market, which is one of the most famous local attractions. It was due to close at 17:00, but when we arrived about 16:10, only 1 or 2 stalls were still open. Chatting with friends later in the evening, who were with a different group, their guide started with the market, as he advised it always closes early.
Fortunately one of vendors had postcards, so I purchased one as we walked past the stall. We are collecting a postcard from each port and posting them to our grandsons.
Departing the market, we headed to City Hall, where we stopped for a brief photo stop. A couple of the group asked about purchasing pearls, so the guide walked to a shop, introducing them to the staff. She then took the rest of us back to the ship.
We departed the docks about 15:20 and returned to the ship at 16:40, so the 2 hr walking tour was cut short by 40 mins. I suspect, being her 4th tour of the day in the heat and humidity, the guide was exhausted, so cut the tour short. Our total distance was about 1.5 miles, whereas over 2 hrs, I expected to cover at least 3, possibly 4 miles. Talking to other pax aboard, who completed the walking tour, and the feedback was generally negative.
Back aboard, I showered and changed for dinner, heading down to the MDR just after 18:00. We requested our usual waiter Spike (Putu), so were allocated to a table seating 6. We enjoyed dinner with 2 other couples – 245 day Ultimate cruisers from North Dakota and a couple from Montana, who are also disembarking London.
Great dinner and conversation, as we sat chatting and sipping wine until 21:30, OMG!!! 3.5 hrs for dinner – that’s even a record for us. Unfortunately, our extended dinner resulted in us missing the A/Cruise Director’s show. Feedback on his show was very positive.