Tia Moana cruise a Tahitian treat

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BORA BORA, Tahiti -- There I was, sitting on the beach of a remote island in the middle of the Pacific, my toes in the water, watching a silent movie, the screen a white sheet tethered between two palm trees.

Dinner earlier that evening had been filet mignon and lobster tails. Now a deckhand brought me dessert: a warm crepe filled with homemade ice cream.

These are the images I carried home after my seven-day sailing with Bora Bora Cruises through the Tahitian islands of Bora Bora, Tahaa, Raiatea and Huahine.

The vessel was the Tia Moana, one of two luxury yachts owned and operated by Bora Bora Cruises. Its a 226-foot-long luxury vessel with 34 cabins spread out among its five decks. Its single-hull design allows for smooth sails through shallow waters.

Its a lot smaller than the other cruise options out there -- compare 68 passengers on the Tia Moana with 670 passengers on the Tahitian Princess.

My cabin is what I think of as ideal: light wood paneling and flooring, accented by a colorful bedspread; a flat-screen TV on the wall opposite the bed; fresh fruit and fresh flowers in the room; and Philippe Starck bathroom fixtures.

The Bora Bora Lagoon Resort.Other amenities are what you would expect on a boutique ship: a library; an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi tub; afternoon tea; the services of a masseuse; and the use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment. There are various activities (some that cost extra) and a number of lounge areas, both indoor and outdoor, for those who want to read and relax.

Activities include shark and manta ray feedings in the open ocean, river kayaking to a botanical garden, a visit to a Tahitian vanilla farm and sacred healing grounds, and an off-road tour of an archaeological site.

We left the boat via a pair of skiffs located in the rear.

Those who wanted to create their own activities were encouraged to do so.

One afternoon as I was preparing to join other passengers on the river kayak and hike through the botanical gardens and jungle, a young newlywed couple from Ecuador set off on another skiff.

They later told me they had retreated to a nearby island for a private lunch and some snorkeling. The staff landed them on the motu (island), arranged towels, beach chairs, a cooler with bottles of water and secured the time they would be picked up.

On the evening before debarkation, I found myself angling for silver jackfish off the stern with one of the activity directors and a couple of members of the kitchen staff, as though we had known each other for years.

We watched a pair of octopuses awkwardly thrust past the lights that shined from the bottom of the ship.

Not a bad life out here, I said to the activity director.

Not bad at all, he replied.

To contact reporter Brian Berusch, send e-mail to [email protected].

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