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Tia Moana - Superyacht Bora Bora Cruise and Le Taha'a Private Island Resort and Spa (Le Tahaa) Review Flight to Tahiti

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2005 Date: 1/12/2005

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Email: greg@cruisingreview.com

TEL: 608-238-6001

Trip Organization

Basic Packing - One Carry-on

Since I have been on the Radisson Paul Gauguin, I thought I'd try another cruise ship. I knew I wanted to get back to French Polynesia, so decided on a pre-cruise spa, and then a week cruise amongst the islands. I decided on Le Taha'a Private Island Resort and Spa (Le Tahaa) (within view of Bora Bora) and then on Bora Bora Cruises, which has two superyachts that ply the Polynesian waters. BBC refers to their operation as a boutique cruise.

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Le Tahaa Resort and Spa

Flights

Underwater Camera Housing

I did my first searches on the internet, to get some ideas on the price ranges the airlines were offering. Since I have a Northwest Frequent Flyer account, I thought I'd use some of those miles for flights. Luckily, Air Tahiti Nui is a Partner with Northwest. When I called Northwest reservations however, there was no space available on an Air Tahiti Nui flight from Los Angeles to Papeete. I bit discouraged, I decided to redeem miles to get from Madison to Los Angeles, which was a bit easier. Since the flights were nearly booked, I had to use extra miles to get tickets. What was normally 25,000 to 50,000, finally was 90,000 miles for two tickets. I then checked online with Air Tahiti Nui ($1,400 economy, $9,400 business class), Expedia ($1,200 economy) and finally Travelocity ($1,040 economy). I booked through Travelocity, and had to pay an expensive two-day air fee ($25) for ticket delivery.

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Air Tahiti Nui Website

Frequent Flyer Miles

Air Tahiti Boarding Pass

Frequent Flyer partner programs are misleading. The partner airlines only have a select number of seats available for frequent flyers. In this case, there were no seats available for frequent fliers in the weeks before or after my travel dates. Northwest had seats, but charged premium miles to award those seats. Better yet, they charge you a $10 fee per ticket which you have to put on your credit card. The program is nice, but it certainly isn't free. When all is said and done, the flights you exchange for miles earned amounts to at or less than 1% of your credit card charges. So the award is about 1% compared to other credit cards, which claim up to 5% back. I have an Advanta Card, and they barely even gave me a fraction of 1% back. Don't believe all the claims this credit card companies make to draw you to their cards. The US Bank NW VISA is a good card, by has velocity limits and other issues. Velocity limits are how often you can charge and make payments to the card. Typically around two transactions per month. If you pay the card in advance for large charges that exceed your credit limit (as is the case in expensive travel packages) you get charged a finance Charge phone Pay Fee. So, paying ahead incurs charges, just as waiting to pay off a charge.

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Tahiti Inter-island Connections and Cruise Reservations

Air Tahiti Airbus to Papeete

Having used Tahiti Nui Travel via Radisson in the past two years, I decided to use them, since they were local to the area. Originally I only wanted a quote on the resort and cruise, but they also offered airfare from LAX to PPT. The quote for air ended up at $747 economy and around $4,000 business class-- but only after I said I was ordering from the internet. My advice is to tell the travel agent in advance that you're getting quotes from the internet, so they give you the best price from the start. In any case, I booked the inter-island flights, spa and cruise with my credit card. They also arrange all the transfers which is very helpful. Note that quotes are provided as package prices, and they do not separate charges, so you really don't know what any individual item costs (i.e. a day at the spa, or the week cruise).

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Tahiti Nui Travel

Upgrades to Business Class

Business Class Seating

If space is available when you check-in for your flight, you may inquire about upgrades to Business Class from economy. Air Tahiti Nui opens up Business Class for a upgrade fee of around $800 per trip. That's a deal compared to the $4,000 to $8,000 more from an economy ticket they charge you at the time of booking. The only downfall to this strategy is that you may not get upgraded if the plane is full.

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Flights to LAX

Air Tahiti Menu - Download in .pdf Format

Madison was in the middle of a freezing rain and potential ice storm when the flight departed at 6:50 a.m. Luckily, the heavy fog predicted never materialized, nor did the freezing rain. A light drizzle fell as the flight ascended from the runway. Minneapolis was above the freeze line and had light snowfall. Our 757 had to be de-iced before departure. LAX was sunny and about 60 deg. F. on arrival. The flooding from the past two weeks of storms that ravaged Southern California were evident even from the air.

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Flight to Tahiti

Air Tahiti Dinner Menu

We were amongst the last to check-in at the Air Tahiti Nui counter, and were told that Business Class was full, but that First class might have a few openings. The last minute upgrade was $600 for Business and $1,600 for First. I was told to go to the gate and inquire on availability. Once there, the answer was the same-- Business was full, but there might be the possibility of a few spots in First Class. I kept returning to the supervisor until all passengers were checked-in and boarding the aircraft. Finally, with persistence, my strategy paid off. Two of the Business Class people upgraded to First, and I got two upgrades to Business for $600 each. This was a lucky break since the plane was full, and we were seated in the middle of the row in back. On the bus to the aircraft on the tarmac, we met some fellow passengers who also tried to get upgraded, but they gave up early, and were surprised that we go it. They had gotten tickets almost a year ago at $1,700 each in Economy. Our tickets were $1,100 plus the $600 upgrade. Quite a deal since Business Class was at over $4,000 each when I made reservations in December.

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Life in Business Class

Air Tahiti Drinks Menu

The front end of the Airbus is palatial. In First Class, there are three seats across. In Business it is 2 x 2 x 2. You are inundated by never ending course of food and beverages. This is French faire, which I'm not a big fan of, but the food was quite good. The flight is just over 8 hours to Papeete, Tahiti, and the time change is 5 hours from the Midwest, or 3 hours from LAX.

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Beachcomber - Intercontinental

Beachcomber Receipt

The Beachcomber is very close to the airport, and is a good choice for a short stay in Papeete.

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Tahiti Nui Travel Itinerary

Itinerary Page One

I booked my flights online, but booked the resort, transportation and cruise through Tahiti Nui Travel.

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Tahiti Nui Travel Itinerary

Itinerary Page Two

I booked my flights online, but booked the resort, transportation and cruise through Tahiti Nui Travel.

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Tahiti Nui Travel Itinerary

Itinerary Page Two

I booked my flights online, but booked the resort, transportation and cruise through Tahiti Nui Travel.

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CONTACT TEL: 608-238-6001 Email: greg@cruisingreview.com