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Experiences abound on Windstar Star Breeze, the 159-metre long ship that successfully survived $250-million heart surgery and the now-312-maximum passengers are kept kept busy. The number of things on offer seems endless. Included are every water sport under the sun, motorbiking, 4×4 excursions and so on. All this activity meant that a younger age group is attracted to Windstar than is usually the case when it comes to average cruisers, and there is less lunchtime drinking – typical alcohol beverage order for a week-long cruise is 500 bottles of wine and bubblies, which is remarkably little for just-over 300 passengers. There also does not seem to be an obvious smoking area – no ashtrays anywhere.  As has already been mentioned in these daily reports, there is, surprisingly, remarkably little use of the gym, which has lovely views out to sea and over the seventh and eighth decks.

Girlahead will forever remember the two major all-ship excursions to private islands. The evening barbeque, with spectacular fire dancers, including an eight year old with head half-peroxided in Polynesian street style. This was the evening when it suddenly poured, to the minute proclaiming the party’s over. And then, on another island, an all-day party with pop-up boutiques and the Captain, in shorts as always, officiating at renewal of vows, in this case Windstar President Chris Prelog and his gorgeous wife Silke (but apparently this happens typically once a cruise, onboard or on an island – vow renewals (see above)  are an add-on purchase that is available to all).

Windstar is very good at add-ons, click and put into the ‘basket’. About 50% opt for the daily $89 add-on free drinks and WiFi package, going up to $99 in 2023 – the quality of beverages makes this good value for those who like the occasional glass or a Kettel One martini on the rocks. Check your account on your Samsung television, which is remarkably easy to operate.

The final hours aboard were, by the way, jam-packed with memories. There was the cruising-routine penultimate-night crew farewell, but here poolside – see the video below. On the final day, a visit to Moorea’s cultural centre was an introduction to coral and other conservation research being done by University of California at Berkeley scientists, thanks to a 50-year grant (the site and its buildings were largely donated by the Gump family. Hoinano (real name Teurumereariki) Murphy-Teavai, wife of The Brando’s head scientist Frank Murphy, explained how French, not Tahitian, is still encouraged in schools, how ‘I love you’ in local language becomes ‘love me to you’ and the lore of mahu, boy-girls.

And the final joy, what an honour. President Edouard Fritch invited the entire onboard complement to an evening reception, at the official Presidential Palace. It’s easy to picture it as it was when it was built for the French commandeur in 1868, brick buildings, mostly two-floor with wrought-iron balconies at the upper level. The President’s office, nearly tennis-court size, has two separate seating areas and every available horizontal surface is piled high with books, and citations and photos, you name it (pity those who attempt to keep it all shipshape).

There was music, and dancing, and a Milan-calibre catwalk show featuring five slim-line women and a heart-throb guy, all black clad, gliding up and down in a tantalizing array of black pearls from third-generation Papeete jeweller Robert Wan. We had endless speeches, and Windstar Star Breeze’s godmother Wendy Perrin appeared as if by magic: she’s wearing a turquoise shirt in a Presidential line-up, in the image above, that also includes presidential partners.  Then the two Presidents, Edouard Fritch, French Polynesia, and Chris Prelog, cut a giant 35th birthday cake and a jolly good time was had by all.  And, thanks to young Richard Wan, running his grandfather’s empire, we all had bespoke black-pearl bracelets as souvenirs of a unique life-changing week in French Polynesia.