While Mangareva was shrouded in clouds during our visit the previous day, it now presented itself in gleaming sunlight with Mount Duff towering over the little town of Rikitea. Many of us enjoyed beautiful views of the island and a warm breeze from the observation deck before we set sail for the Pitcairn Islands in the early afternoon.

The seas were high, but the weather was stunning. Many of us made use of the time to take in the vast expanse of the ocean and the sun glittering on the waves. The naturalists spotted several interesting birds from the observation deck, including a rare Murphy’s petrel.

We were able to enjoy two lecture presentations in the lounge during our passage to the Pitcairn Islands. The first was given by cultural specialist Annette Kühlem and entitled “Palm-Fringed Paradise? Perceptions and Misconceptions about Polynesian Lifestyles,” and the second was given by guest speaker Christina Thompson, acclaimed author of the bestselling book “Sea People,” on experimental navigation in the wake of the Polynesian Expansion.

After these talks, the hotel team surprised us with a beautiful sunset cocktail hour on deck 6. Most of us dressed according to the theme “Polynesian Nights,” donning the palm frond hats we had been gifted and colorful pareos that many of us had purchased during our previous stops. We were rewarded with a spectacular sunset while sipping on tropical drinks. With the last rays of the sun coloring the clouds in bright shades of orange, red, and purple and the first stars appearing in the darkened sky, we proceeded down to the back deck. A true Polynesian feast had been prepared for us with many local specialties, seafood favorites, and fresh coconuts from Amanu Atoll.