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Visitors enjoy snorkelling, sightseeing and exceptional service

Thursday 29 February 2024 | Written by Candice Luke | Published in National, Travel


Visitors enjoy snorkelling, sightseeing and exceptional service
French tourists Mathilde, 27, and Marie, 23, loved snorkelling at Fruits of Rarotonga with the Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise team. CANDICE LUKE/ 24022870

The cruise ship Paul Gauguin was in Rarotonga yesterday with 253 visitors on board, enjoying a south Pacific paradise tour.

Cruise Cook Islands managing director Stuart Henry said 130 passengers explored the island with Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruise, Raro Safari, the Circle Island tour, or took in the sights at their leisure. 

After a morning of exploration, snorkelling and enjoying local culture, many passengers made their way back to the Paul Gauguin for lunch. 

Henry said: “It’s 5-star food on board. Most people take advantage of that.”

Members of the 213 crew had been holding out for their Rarotonga treats though.

“It’s the crew that will go to Palace. They like to do that or go to CITC to get some noodles, snacks and chips; things they don’t get on board.”

French passengers Marie, 23, and Mathilde, 27, loved the snorkelling and trying local fruit on offer at Captain Tama’s. 

“It was very good. We really appreciate it,” said Marie, who works taking care of airline staff accommodations. 

Human resources worker Mathilde couldn’t fault her experiences on board: “The crew is exceptional.”

The Paul Gauguin route went from Tahiti to Aitutaki, Rarotonga, and last night it departed for Tahiti again. Marie and Mathilde were looking forward to docking in Bora Bora. 

Cruise ship Crystal Serenity was in Avarua Harbour on Saturday with 373 passengers who were mostly American. 

Three cruise ships are scheduled to visit Rarotonga and Aitutaki next month: MSC Poesia (March 1, Rarotonga and March 2, Aitutaki), MS Volendam (March 20, Aitutaki and March 21, Rarotonga), and Hanseatic Spirit (March 28, Rarotonga).

Approximately 11,000 cruise ship passengers arrived in Aitutaki and Rarotonga in 2023.

For Rarotonga alone, there were 6500 visitors and 4500 for Aitutaki. And out of the 38 cruise ships scheduled across Aitutaki and Rarotonga, only 22 were able to land passengers ashore.

For 2024, roughly 34 cruise ship visits are scheduled across Aitutaki and Rarotonga, spread throughout the year.