Sunday, February 8

Tahitian Princess’s last visit to Rarotonga

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The Princess Cruises ship Tahitian Princess paid its last visit to the Cook Islands on Saturday.
Locals will be sad to say goodbye.
The Tahitian Princess has been a regular visitor to Rarotonga for several years. Every ten days or so during the cruise season the elegant-looking ship dropped anchor beyond the reef so passengers could come ashore on small tenders. Well, they could if the weather was OK. If the seas were rough, riding the tenders was too dangerous and the visits were cancelled.
Over the years the harbour has changed quite a bit. There is now a western basin where small fishing boats anchor and this is where the tenders unload. Shopkeepers set up stalls on the foreshore above the harbour on boat days, mainly for black pearls, carvings, pareu and woven souvenirs. Visitors can also pick up tours and dive boats here.
Saturday was a lovely day, no problem getting people ashore and the island would have looked beautiful to those who stayed on the ship.
There is talk of building an alternative ship’s tender harbour on the western side of Rarotonga. It would be small and only be used when the sea swells in the Avatiu area stop the safe transport of passengers to the island.
A total of 28 cruise ships visited Rarotonga last year but another 13 could not stop over because of heavy swells. In fact the first scheduled cruise ship of 2008, the Seven Seas Voyager, was unable to land anyone. That’s a big disappointment for stallholders and tour companies. However, with world finances in their current state we’re unlikely to see a new tender harbour any time soon.
The Tahitian Princess is heading for the northern hemisphere this year but other cruise lines are planning to call in and they should all be welcomed with open arms, weather permitting, as they make a real difference to the local economy
Well, at least it was fine for the Princess’s final visit so let’s hope everyone had a great time and has lots of happy memories of Rarotonga and the Cook Islands.