As the boat docked in Port Papeete (Tahiti Island), she was welcomed by orchestra and dancers. With 450 passengers onboard (out of max capacity 930), Orion is the first Transpacific ship to stop in Tahiti since March 2020.
While some ships like Star Breeze, Aranui 5, and Paul Gauguin which embark/disembark passengers from Tahiti and remain in French Polynesia, were able to restart cruises several months ago, international voyages had to wait for the lifting of the ban until November last year. It was during this period that Tahiti Tourism industry began to prepare for the recovery, both in terms of health protocols and tourism.
Cruise ship visits to French Polynesia were suspended because of the COVID crisis, but tourism officials expect the 2022 numbers to rebound and match those of 2019.
According to the Ministry of Tourism this year, 200 international cruise ship calls were expected in the archipelagos of French Polynesia, giving the sector a boost. ~1000 ship calls were expected in 2022 sailing from Papeete, which is about that of 2019 when French Polynesia had a total of 1200 stopovers.
Viking Orion departed from Los Angeles (Long Beach-San Pedro, California) on January 5, for a 32-day Grand Polynesia cruise to Hilo, Hawaii Island (Jan 11), Kahului, Maui Island, Hawaii (Jan 12), Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii (Jan 13), Nawiliwili, Lihue, Kauai Island, Hawaii (Jan 14), Bora Bora Island, Society Islands, French Polynesia (Jan 21&22), Moorea Island, Society Islands, French Polynesia (Jan 23), Papeete, Tahiti Island, French Polynesia (Jan 24&25), Nuku Hiva Island, Taiohae, Marquesas French Polynesia (Jan 28), San Diego, California (Feb 5), prior to sailing back to LA on February 6.