Q: What are the exact dates?
A: May 19 to May 27, 2018
Q: Will I get seasick?
A: The MSY Wind Spirit uses its tall sails, hydraulic re-ballisting, gyroscopes and electronic stabilizers to provide a ride than belies it’s yacht-like dimensions. Santana’s previous charters of this same vessel crossed a stormy corner of the Atlantic. During those cruises only a few of our participants popped a pill. Fewer missed a meal. The South Seas are famous for being calm — much smoother than the Caribbean. The Wind Spirit has advanced stabilization and Santana’s itinerary links a string of protected lagoons.
Q: What’s the cost?
A: Due to Santana’s long history with WindStar, our per-person first-in pricing for this 9-day Event in Tahiti starts at $3849. Premium stateroom categories cost more. Lowest pricing in every category is limited to the first few rooms. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE. Our reservations page shows pricing of available staterooms.
Q: Is this a good deal?
A: Most couples who cruise reserve their staterooms over a year in advance. Those who want to cruise French Polynesia in May 2018 will book this Spring. Those who wait, however, may get “free airfare.” This past winter, for the second year in a row, Windstar cruises came up with a “free air” offer to clear away leftover rooms for this Spring’s Wind Spirit cruises. Those who pay in full on the day they book get free roundtrip air between LAX and Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui. The remaining problem for cyclists is Windstar’s corporate policy that prevents you from bringing your bike on a standard cruise. Even if you could somehow sneak your bike aboard, none of the remaining cruise dates for 2017 line up with this year’s Le Ronde Tahitienne. Still, free air travel from LAX is an nice consolation for those who are willing to settle for a leftover stateroom and cruise date.
Santana’s first-in pricing for our Premiere Cruise of 2018 is similar to Windstar’s current discount to clear out this year’s leftover staterooms. We’ll actually reduce their lowest pricing by $750 per person. Instead of forcing you to pay in full at the time of booking we’ll allow you to set aside an entire double stateroom on a NO RISK basis for only $3,000 per couple. If you change your mind within 14 days, just send us an email to get back every nickel.
But what about the free air? Although Windstar’s arrangement with Air Tahiti Nui is pretty damn good (What could be better than “FREE”?) it is limited to certain blocks of economy seats on certain flights between LAX and Pape’ete. Want to extend your stay or get a better seat? Sorry. How about a ticket from an airport other than LAX? No. A return via Fiji, Hawaii or New Zealand? No. Can you use or collect airpoints? No. How much will Windstar give you if you arrange or buy your own flights? Not a penny. Although there is nothing remotely wrong with Air Tahiti Nui’s service out of LAX, Windstar’s proposition is a take it or leave it deal that requires immediate full payment and has lots of limitations.
Santana’s air proposal is fairer and more flexible. By July 2017 Air Tahiti Nui will confirm 2018 schedules and pricing. If round trip tickets to Tahiti are higher than $1,000 per person, we’ll send you an order form. If you remit full event balance AND $1,000 per person, you can arrive or leave Tahiti on any of the Air Tahiti Nui’s May non-stops. Additionally, the Air Tahiti Nui tickets provided by Santana include an enhanced baggage allowance. With our $1,000 round-trip tickets each couple can check two large carry ons, two daypacks, two fifty-pound suitcases and the bike or bikes you’ll ride at Le Ronde Tahitienne.
Q: What’s “Early-In” Pricing?
A: To manage the risk of chartering entire cruise ships, couples who commit early are rewarded with discounts of up to $1,500 per stateroom. Lowest pricing in every category is limited to the first few rooms. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE.
Q: What about tipping?
A: Shipboard gratuities are $144 per person. Santana’s cruise hosts don’t accept tips. Santana’s comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $500 per person includes cycling-specific extras and support on seven islands, Le Ronde Tahitienne registration, one-day pro license, custom team jersey, and special finisher’s award. Port Fees and taxes $268. Fuel surcharges (typically $0) can be imposed after a substantial increase of market prices.
Q: Are some staterooms better than others?
A: Certainly. The Wind Spirit features deluxe bedding and spacious floor plans. The rooms have a private bath with shower, air-conditioning with adjustable thermostat, and are soundproofed. All Wind Spirit staterooms are located on the exterior, and offer South Sea vistas through a pair of large portholes.
A: The MSY Wind Spirit has one suite, which sells out notoriously quickly.
Q: Has anyone done this before?
A: We will be the first group of International cyclists to tour French Polynesia, and the first group of North Americans to enter La Ronde Tahitienne.
Q: What’s the next step?
A: A near-immediate sell-out of this event is anticipated. Early-in pricing is limited to the first few rooms in each category. To lock-in availability and the lowest pricing on a RISK-FREE basis, reserve your space through our PayPal portal. PayPal’s secure website is open 24 hours per day, accepts all major credit cards, and automatically adjusts for remaining stateroom availability. Reserving your spot is RISK-FREE. In each category the prime location staterooms will be assigned in the same order as the time stamp of your booking.
Q: What do you mean by RISK-FREE?
A: When you use your credit card and book through PayPal, we’ll give you 14 risk-free days to think it over and clear your schedule. If you change your mind, send an email to Matt@SantanaAdventures.com within two weeks to cancel the PayPal transaction and obtain a full refund.
Q: What if we change our minds after 14 days?
A: Because full-boat charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-through-PayPal commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out—for any reason. This is no different than the clear written policy that existed for all except one of Santana’s prior chartered-ship cruises (this Tahiti charter will be our 35th!). While preparing for our 2009 Danube event I neglected to include the following proviso. That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned! Here it is (again) in writing:
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on rallies and tours, Santana’s cruises are non-cancelable and non-transferable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard trip insurance. For the past 20 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without complaint. An informative application will be mailed with your invoice; and further information is available online.
Q: Have you ever relaxed your refund policy?
A: Jan and I have willingly resold a number of fully prepaid staterooms for a fee of $500 per person—which was waived when a vacating couple found someone to take their place. When there has been more than one pending resell request, those who paid-in-full earliest had their space resold next. Using this non-guaranteed method (which is grossly inferior to trip insurance) Jan and I have cheerfully refunded over $250,000 in otherwise non-refundable and non-transferable cruise fares.
Q: How are staterooms assigned?
A: In any category all rooms are identical. Using the PayPal timestamp, those who reserve earliest get staterooms closest to the front of the ship, which Bill and Jan both prefer. If friends desire a pair of adjacent staterooms the timestamp of the first reservation determines the location of both rooms. In short, we will not take requests for specific room numbers. Those who book early obtain prime positioning.
Q: How do we get to and from the tour?
A: Detailed info by July ’17. Those who arrive and leave on the embark and debark days will receive FREE Pape’ete transfers.
Q: Are rental bikes available?
A: Yes. If you own a nice bike that fits, however, bringing it with you is relatively easy and inexpensive. More info on this in Bill’s Travel Tips. Tahiti’s entire supply of racy rental road bikes is zero. If you want to rent a sporty Santana Smooth or brand-new French-made solo bike, your $999 per person rental rate offsets the wholesale purchase price of that bike. The subsidized price you pay includes your donation of that bike to Tahiti’s charity that supports disabled children and athletes.
Q: How many miles each day?
A: In addition to our daily pair of zero-mile options (remaining on the ship or exploring the island by other means), every day has multiple cycling routes. Anyone who can ride 30 flat miles will be able to enjoy cycling on all seven islands. If you prefer hills or want to spend additional hours in the saddle, we’ve got you covered. At each morning’s breakfast you’ll get a map charting the day’s cycling routes and recommended stops. During a brief route talk you’ll hear about each route’s grades and difficulty. Santana’s vets have learned to love and rely on their handlebar-mounted gps unit. Now available for less than $200, these touch-screen marvels prevent the age-old problem of getting lost or riding unplanned miles. Santana supplies free electronic mapping and route files. Simply select the route and follow the highlighted map.
Q: What’s the difference between a SAG-wagon and Santana’s SOS/treasure vans?
A: Most tour companies use SAG-wagons that haul luggage and “sweep” the route between overnight stops. The drivers refill water-bottles, fix flat tires, and retrieve riders who can’t manage the easiest route between the widely spaced hotels. The problem, of course, is that the roving vans tend to be annoying until you actually need help. At that point it’s common to wait for two or more hours until one shows up. Although SAG drivers can fix a flat, they don’t have the tools or know-how to handle serious mechanical problems. Instead, they drive you to a bike shop (which explains why SAG-wagons disappear for hours at a time). This tour’s pair of SOS vans are driven pro bike mechanics who bring tools and spares. When you phone them with the coordinates from your GPS, they arrive in a flash to get you back in the saddle. Because Santana expects participants to fill their own bottles, fix their own flats, and choose a ride they can finish, our SOS drivers are underworked, and have time to retrieve your shopping treasures.
Q: Does the Wind Spirit have WiFi?
Will there be menu selections for vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters?
A: Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
Q: What if we have more questions?
A: The easiest way to get any further info is by phoning or emailing Matt, who is happy to answer your questions.