We are currently thinking about going on the Tahitian Princess sometime next year. The question I have is what are the port cities like? Are there actual cities? I am assuming they are much like the cities at the ports in the Caribbean (Georgetown, Ocho Rios, etc), is that right?
You can't compare Tahiti to the Caribbean. They are very different.
Papeete on the island of Tahiti is the only city. All other places or islands you visit are like small towns. Really small towns. If shopping is available its a few stores together in an outdoor mall type of setting along the one road that goes around the island.
These islands in Tahiti feel like they are untouched compared to the Caribbean. The Caribbean is shopping after shopping with hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists. In Tahiti if you where to drive around any of the islands you'll rarely see others driving on the road and if you do they are locals in small old European cars.
The main focus or activities to do in these islands all have to do with the water. Snorkeling, scuba diving, whale watching, swimming, kayaking, jet boat trips, or just lying on the beach.
If you are looking for a relaxing vacation in the sun Tahiti is the right place. Uncrowded and beautiful!
The other replies are correct. Except for Papeete on the main island of Tahiti the rest are more like villages. Caribbean has more people visiting the cities in one week than Tahiti has in 6 months. Very slow, relaxed atmosphere. Nothing like the Caribbean...you will be pleasantly surprised.
Thanks for the informational responses about the island ports. We are booked for a trip in June/July on Radisson's Paul Gauguin. We are hoping that it will be completely rural compared to the Caribbean island ports and numbers of ships visiting. I didn't care for the Caribbean ports over all that much because of the crowds, but everything we read and hear about Tahiti and area is that it will be well worth the time and investment for its relaxation and beauty. We think it will be a unique cruise of a lifetime for me. If you book a trip I think it will be an excellent vacation.
The Paul Gauguin exhibition is worth checking out. It's been a number of years since I visited, but as I recall, it's a short cab ride from Papeete. There are only a few paintings on display, but they are set up in grass huts surrounded by a tropical garden. It's the kind of setting the painter might have experienced. As I say, it's been several years, and I don't know if it's still around, but it might be worth looking into.
I'm revisiting Tahiti in about a month, but don't think I'll have much time for sightseeing. I have a morning arrival, and the ship sails at midnight, so I won't have time to do much more than break out in a sweat.