By Published On: 24 Sep 2021

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Effective 01 January 2022 Tahiti will ban “very large” cruise ships from stopovers in French Polynesia. Instead, the idyllic South Pacific archipelago will favour small to medium capacity vessels.

The new cruise industry strategy will seemingly favour the luxury and ultra-luxury cruise lines that operate smaller cruise ships. Indeed, the fabled island of Bora Bora will now be off-limits to all but those vessels.

It’s about sustainable development

Tahiti Tourisme say the move is part of a new cruise industry strategy that will ensure “sustainability and inclusive development” of tourism in French Polynesia. The number of turnaround cruises (voyages that start or end) in Tahiti has doubled in the last 10 years. Cruising was worth USD167-million to the local economy in 2019, with more than 40,000 cruise passengers visiting French Polynesia.

Bora Bora off limits

Also in 2019 the municipality of Bora Bora expressed concerns about the size of visiting cruise ships. After discussions with the municipality, now only 1,200 cruise passengers per day can visit. Tahiti Tourisme have told us it shows a desire to preserve the beauty of its lagoon as well as the quality of service for which Bora Bora has become famous.

The idyllic island paradise of Bora Bora, Tahiti.
The unspoilt island paradise of Bora Bora, French Polynesia.

It’s worth noting that the new industry strategy will preference cruise lines based in French Polynesia. In particular those operating vessels with fewer than 700 guests. The 330- guest Paul Gauguin operated by Ponant and the 230-guest Aranui will be obvious beneficiaries.

Tahiti ban large cruise ships deemed as ‘not suited’

Moreover, the updated industry rules will now only permit voyages to commence or conclude in Tahiti if a vessel carries fewer than 2,501 guests. Larger vessels up to 3,500 guests can cruise French Polynesia, but not turnaround. However, cruise ships with more than 3,500 passengers will not be welcome. A statement from Tahiti Tourisme said: “they are not suited for our destination”.

The limit on cruise ship size in French Polynesia follows similar rules imposed on the cruise industry in Santorini, Greece and Venice, Italy.

Learn more about French Polynesia at the Tourisme Tahiti website.

About the Author: Jason Kerr

Jason is the founder and Managing Editor of The Luxury Cruise Review. He has a passion for travel, a weakness for espresso coffee and a love of Greek cuisine.

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