2019 TAHITI TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE CRUISE2019-04-01T06:26:11+00:00


11 days/10 nights from June 27-July 7, 2019



Get ready for another cruise to totality!  This is the 2nd tour for the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society’s RING OF FIRE EXPEDITION #48 to see the total eclipse of the Sun on July 2, 2019.  This expedition will be led by Paul D. Maley of the NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society.  It will be his 74th solar eclipse.  We have one sold out land expedition viewing it from near the sunset point in Chile but this cruise will attempt to view it from a late morning perspective in the Pacific Ocean.  We are pleased to welcome all of you, especially first timers who got a taste for what a total eclipse of the Sun looks like from the August 21, 2017 USA eclipse experience.

Second contact showing Baily’s Beads (lower left) as photographed on Ring of Fire Expedition #47 by Byron Braswell, August 21, 2017

We have contracted with Windstar Cruises to use their motorized sailing ship the Wind Spirit for this eclipse adventure.  The ship we will use appears in the photo below with the following characteristics:

The Wind Spirit

Deck 2 (above deck 1) staterooms category A (gray) and AX (pink) cabins. 


We have had a huge surge of interest in solar eclipse viewing since this year’s total eclipse in the USA. Because we have a limited number of cabins on the Wind Spirit, Future Travel has decided to consider registration forms where two people sign up sharing a cabin first. Single cabins are NOT allowed EXCEPT where one person books the entire cabin and pays the same price as two people sharing + an $800 additional premium. This $800 premium is a new contract requirement from the cruise company levied on Future Travel. Two people maximum in one cabin and no children under 12.  Persons who want to join the cruise but do not have a  cabin mate will be considered after cabins with 2 people sharing are filled. We will attempt to match people by gender. It pays for you to have a cabin mate that you already know since you never know how compatible a cabin mate chosen in the blind might turn out.

Trip cancellation/repatriation/evacuation is mandatory on this trip since we will be traveling to the end of the range of the ship’s capability quite far from any islands with medical support. If any cruise passenger is in need of evacuation at sea this would be extremely costly and such insurance is vital. See approximate cost of insurance above under the INSURANCE section.


This is actually a three step process. I can confirm each registration form the same day it is submitted. Payments for the cruise and insurance (steps 2 and 3) will take longer and will be confirmed by Judy Shaw with Future Travel.  From the time that you submit your payment (credit card or cash amount) it takes a finite number of days for the payments to be processed by Future Travel. This could be a few does or a week or more. Please do not inquire of me or them as Future Travel will notify you once the cruise payment process is completed.  At that time they will invoice you and inform you about the insurance portion of the payment. Once all three items are completely processed you will be added to the ship’s manifest for the cruise. When the ship fills up, I will post a note on the eclipsetours.com web page to that effect. Any registration forms that are received after the ship is full will be held on a wait list (I will contact those people); excess deposits from those who cannot be confirmed will not be cashed unless you are notified by Future Travel.


CAPACITY: 148 guests
STATEROOMS: 73 deluxe ocean view staterooms
OWNER’S SUITE: 1 ocean view owner’s suite
DECKS: 4 decks
CREW: 101 international staff
LENGTH: 360 feet (110 meters) at waterline; 440 feet (134 meters) including bowsprit
DRAFT: DRAFT: 14 feet (4.1 meters)
TONNAGE: 5,736 gross registered tons (grt)
BEAM: 52.1 feet (15.8 meters)
SAILS: 6 triangular, self-furling, computer-operated sails with 21,500 square feet (or 2,200 square meters) of Dacron surface area
MASTS: 4 at 204 feet (62 meters)
ENGINES: 3 diesel electric generating sets, 1 electrical propulsion motor
SPEED: 10 knots with engines only; up to 15.8 knots with prevailing wind

A fish-eye view of a total eclipse as photographed by Bob Hulse on the Silver Discoverer on our  eclipse cruise in 2016.
A cruise ship can be a good place to adapt free thinking ideas.  Use of a wind-sheltered crew area, hanging a GPS from a convenient hook, using a water bottle as a counterweight for a tripod, use of onsite tie rope tie downs as substitute chairs.  Stefan Meyer photo.


Our speakers will be Dr. Michael Shara of the American Museum of Natural History and Paul D. Maley, NASA Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society.  We will also entertain volunteer talks from cruise members like we did on our previous cruises in 2013 and 2016.  Some, but not all, of the talks (to be confirmed & subject to change) we plan to insert include:

  1. An Eclipse Primer
  2. The Plan for the July 2, 2019 Total Eclipse Intercept
  3. Einstein: His Life and Times
  4. Merging Black Holes and Neutron stars: Probing Spacetime with gravitational waves
  5. Exoplanets and Searches for Extraterrestrial Life
  6. A Tour of the Universe as Seen by Hubble and Chandra
  7. Ring of Fire Expeditions Upcoming Trips
  8. Capturing the Green Flash
  9. Flying Fish, Flying Squid and Other Things to See on Deck

Tahiti is part of French Polynesia and is located about 730 miles to the northwest of the total eclipse path (grayish area in the lower right) as seen in the map above. It will take about 3 + days of sailing to reach the path of totality. Our viewing location will likely be south or east of Ahurei which is the actual name of the town on Rapa Iti island.   Because of fuel limitations (and no place to refuel) we will have a limited radius of travel to move along the blue central eclipse line.  Map courtesy X. Jubier.

Totality as photographed from Berwyn, Nebraska USA on August 21, 2017 by Jan Hellemans. Note the bright star Regulus in lower left and long coronal streamers.

The sunsets at sea can be amazing. This photo is an example of what you might capture under the right conditions. John DuBois image.

The eclipse observation point is nominally on the blue line.  The island of Rapa Iti (Ahurei) where we will stop is shown above.
















(L) 3rd contact from our Silver Discoverer cruise in 2016. LeRoy Maxfield photo. (R) 1st contact photo by LeRoy Maxfield.

JULY 4 Thursday: AT SEA

A diving sea bird as photographed by LeRoy Maxfield

Venus and the faint glow of the Zodiacal Light. Photo by Paul Maley.

There are other amazing night sights that may be seen at sea.  A band of dust in the plane of the Earth’s orbit is popularly known as the “Zodiacal Light”.  This faint cone of illuminated particles can be seen in a dark sky environment just after sunset or just before sunrise. It will be something else to look for on our voyage though July is not the optimum month for viewing it in the southern hemisphere.

JULY 5 Friday: AT SEA 

Our final full day at sea in anticipation of tomorrow’s land fall at Moorea.  Today we plan to have one or two talks on various topics to be identified later. One will be on photography of native subjects since in Moorea you can get opportunities to take striking shots of even the most obscure targets such as the flowers and shore landscape below.  Other classic targets include rainbows, clouds, sea birds and fish.

Indigenous flowers. Photo by John DuBois.

Island topography. Photo by John DuBois.

We will attempt to look for the green flash each day as sunset approaches from the top deck.


At long last we arrive at our premier French Polynesian island stop of Moorea at about 600am.    Eight voluminous mountain peaks rise from its translucent lagoon, creating a distinctive and rugged silhouette visible from the western coast of Tahiti. Splitting the northern shore are two symmetrical bays: Cook’s (Paopao) and Opunohu Bay. The island is roughly shaped like a heart from overhead; and in the theme of love and romance, Moorea is one of the top honeymoon destinations in Tahiti—second only to Bora Bora.

There are a number of optional cost tours that you can take. Believed to have inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, Moorea is one of the most scenically striking islands in French Polynesia.

A wide angle view of Moorea.  Credit: By 100zax – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5513234

The world’s largest coral reef eco-system actually consists of 3,000 separate reefs. The island of Moorea serves as the perfect base camp for snorkelers and scuba divers seeking to come face-to-face with the diversity of life that darts among the coral. Non-swimmers can enjoy the same parade of astounding creatures from the dry perch of a glass-bottomed boat. Formed when half of a monolithic volcano crumbled to the blue-green sea, Moorea is an achingly exquisite heart-shaped island that is simply paradise found.

Below are OPTIONAL COST tours currently offered in Moorea by Windstar but may be modified prior to our sailing in 2019.  Tours will take place during the day today.  Booking for these tours will begin approximately 45 days before sailing and end 7 days before. However, if you have not booked by the time you get on the ship, and the particular tour is not full, then you can book onboard charging it to your shipboard account.

Moorea: 2 Tank Certified Dive *4 hours*

This program is for Certified Divers looking to do a half day of diving (approximately 4 hours).. The typical time underwater for the 2 tank dive is 45 minutes for the first dive, with a long surface interval followed by a second dive of approximately 45 minutes. For guests only wanting a one tank, you can go at the same price and may choose to snorkel or swim while the second dive is going. Dives will take place at two of the following three sites (weather dependent)
The Anemones: An ocean dive where you’ll be visiting Nemo’s cousin’s house! This is an ideal “first ocean dive” – shallow and easy. You will see sharks (black tips) our friend Janine, a friendly turtle, octopi and many tropical fish.
Sharks Dining Room: An ocean dive in a spectacular spot for watching the big lemon sharks (5-10 feet) that come here for feeding.
The Opunohu Canyons: An ocean dive. Keeping to the bottom of the small canyon, you will see plenty of small marine fauna, black tip sharks, and of course huge lemon sharks. At the end of the dive, you will stop to see pretty anemones with their clown fish.
Please note: The Dive Tour being offered is for Certified Divers only. Certified Divers need to bring their PADI – CMAS Cards or other proof of certification, including a log book. Waiver release forms must be signed and medical conditions must be disclosed. Bring your C-card. Nitrox is free of charge for Nitrox Certified Divers. Please wear your swimsuit under your clothing and bring a towel, spare t-shirt and sun block.Please take a refresher course before the cruise if you haven’t been diving in over a year.

Moorea: Active Hike and Guided Tour of Three Coconut Trail *4 hours*

Here’s a brisk 4-mile workout to “get the kinks out,” while seeing some of the most spectacular scenery, flora and fauna of beautiful Moorea. You will transfer from the pier where your hike starts with a trek up to famous Belvedere Lookout Point boasting gorgeous panoramic views of both Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay. Continue your walk until you reach the ridge separating Mount Mouaroa (2,887 ft. high) from Mount Tohivea (3,959 ft. high).  Although named Three Coconut Trail, there is actually only one coconut palm remaining near the highest point of the trail. This intimate walk is one of the best ways to get a close look at the tropical nature of Tahiti. Your guide will introduce you to the fauna and flora of the island and you will sample some of their delicious fresh fruits.
Please note: This tour involves a very strenuous and lengthy hike over partly shaded and uneven terrain, on uphill and downhill trails to an elevation of 1,171 feet. This tour is recommended for guests in very good physical condition. Operation of this tour is dependent upon favorable weather conditions. Wear comfortable hiking shoes or hiking boots, bring insect repellent, a hat, and sunglasses, a change of socks and bottled water.

Moorea: Discover SCUBA *3 hours*

This program is for the guest who wants to experience SCUBA diving for the first time, or for the guest with no dive certification. You will have a great experience, and receive lots of personal attention. Dives will take place at the Aquarium.
The Aquarium: A lagoon dive where you will be visiting Nemo’s cousin’s house! This is the ideal “first dive” – shallow and easy.
Please note: Wear your swimsuit under your clothing and bring a towel. Waiver release form must be signed and medical conditions must be disclosed. SCUBA equipment is provided.
Moorea: Dolphin Eco Tour *3 hours*
Join marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole or his assistant and learn about their ecotourism and research projects on the dolphins that frequent Moorea’s magnificent coastline. Dr. Poole, the founder of the Marine Mammal Research Program, has been studying dolphins and whales in French Polynesia since 1987. Spinner dolphins, rough-tooth dolphins, and pilot whales are often seen around Moorea. Hear details on the remarkable life and society of these fascinating mammals. Learn about the geology of French Polynesia while viewing and photographing the dramatic beauty of Moorea from the water. Dolphins are found on 95% of the tours, and the thoroughness of the commentary and the sheer magnificence of Moorea’s coastline will ensure a rewarding and educational experience. There is the additional chance to view humpback whales during their seasonal presence to mate and calf. This tour company follows international ecotourism guidelines and is an active contributor to the conservation of French Polynesia’s dolphins and whales. Participation in this tour will help to further their goal.
Please note:  As with all creatures in their natural environment, the presence of wildlife cannot be guaranteed, but even so, dolphins are found 95% of the time. This is not a swim with the dolphins, but time permitting you can swim directly from the boat at the end of the tour.  Even though the boat is covered, you are advised to wear sunscreen as protection from the glare of the water.  And definitely bring your camera.

Moorea: E-Bike *3 hours*

Here is an environmentally friendly and active way to discover Moorea’s main viewpoints with this bicycle guided tour to Belvedere and the Pineapple Valley. After an introductory course on how to use the simple E-bike settings, get ready to bike the Bay! Choose the setting that fits your fitness level, from no assistance to Turbo and enjoy the ride. Along the way, the guide will provide information about the sites and their histories, and you will have plenty of opportunities for pictures. Pedal nearby the pineapple plantations and stop for some jam tasting at the Agricultural High School. Visit the famous bay of Moorea, stop at the Marae (archaeological sites) and Belvedere Lookoutpoint. Your electric-assisted mountain bike will make it really fun and easy, and biking the pineapple island remains a unique moment to enjoy nature and its beauty in an ecological manner!
Please note: While this tour is an assisted bike ride, we do require passengers to be in good physical condition and to be able to keep up with a group at a fair speed during the tour. There will be some uphill and downhill parts, and you are riding in a tropical environment (heat & humidity). Guests MUST know how to ride a bike and pregnant women and guests with physical limitations will not be permitted to participate on this tour. Wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and sunglasses. Bring your own bottles of water and a light snack.

Moorea: Island Tour Featuring Belvedere Lookout *3 hours*

Moorea is one of the most spectacular islands in the world, and it has a vibrant cultural history. The island itself is about 2 million years old.  People have lived on Moorea for almost 2,000 years, and a rich history of traditional knowledge has been passed down through the generations.  With two major research institutions here, including UC Berkeley’s Gump Research Station, it is also now likely the most studied island in the world. This tour has taken all of the available information generated by researchers and local elders and woven it into a tour that will introduce you to how the island of Moorea came to be as it is today, in all of its natural splendor and cultural richness.  You will explore beaches, forests, and take a walk through an ancient village where archaeologists are piecing together the pre-history of the Polynesians. Along the way you will learn and talk about the geology, plants and animals, Polynesian settlement, European explorations, and modern environmental issues.The leisurely pace of this tour will allow for plenty of photo opportunities and discussions and will leave you with a new appreciation for this wonderful island and its people.  

Please note: Some of the stops include walking on uneven ground however guests with limited mobility can remain on the bus. Bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, water from the ship, and  wear comfortable walking shoes.

Moorea: Photographers Eye View of Moorea *3 to 5 hours*

Capture the beauty of Moorea on a unique and exclusive walking and 4X4 driving tour accompanied by an accomplished professional photographer, who will offer photographic tips and interesting information throughout your tour.  Begin your journey in the stunning interior of the island along large pineapple fields.  You’ll pass through lush subtropical forests dotted with ancient archaeological sites, and reach the Belvedere Lookout Point. This panoramic location offers amazing photo opportunities of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay and the endless horizon of the Pacific Ocean.  You’ll see Mount Rotui, also known as Magic Mountain, with spectacular views of the barrier reef.  Riding along the coastal road to the west coast of the island, you’ll see expansive views of lush green vegetation, beautiful gardens, and a turquoise-blue lagoon. Highlights may also include Papetoai fishing village, and the interior of the Moorea Crater.
Please note: Based on the expertise of the photographer, your tour will be adapted to the weather forecast and light of the day. As a combined walking and 4X4 tour that involves bumpy roads this tour is not recommended for pregnant women and guests with back or neck problems. You will need to negotiate a high step to board the jeep. Bring your camera, memory cards, and protection for your photography equipment, biodegradable sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, and water. Wear comfortable clothing and trail shoes with nonskid soles.

Moorea: Snorkel Safari *3 hours*

Board a comfortable boat with a cover to protect you from the direct rays of the sun and travel along a colorful lagoon. Dive into this magnificent lagoon — there’s no need to be a skilled diver to swim freely in the warm waters and enjoy this experience. The boat will take you near a gorgeous sandy islet surrounded by transparent turquoise waters. You will be able to enjoy time for snorkeling and even glide with the stingrays in these clear waters. As with all creatures in their natural environment, there is no guarantee you will see stingrays, and tickets are non-refundable should a sighting not occur.  Guests may remain in the boat, but from there viewing will be limited.
Please note: There are some stairs involved so aqua shoes are recommended. Guests should be accustomed to wearing snorkel equipment and coping with occasional currents. While snorkel equipment is available (mask & snorkel), it is recommended you bring your own for maximum comfort. Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed. For your own safety and to preserve the environment, when snorkeling, do not touch or step on the coral reef.

Moorea: Stingray encounter by Waverunner Jet Ski *3 hours*

Enjoy an adventure full of fun onboard a Waverunnerjet ski through the clear waters of Moorea! You will be transferred from the pier to the Activity Center where you will receive your safety and operating instructions from your guide. Then, it’s off to enjoy your ride! Led by your guide, you will see some amazing views of the mountain and the lagoon of “Gecko Island.” Along the way, a stop will be made at a motu islet for an opportunity to swim and/or enjoy a pause with some local refreshment. Snorkeling is an option here since the place boasts a lovely coral garden. Continue on to the shallow waters of the lagoon for a close encounter with the stingrays and black tip sharks populating the lagoon. It is a thrilling sensation to be in the water with these animals and see them gliding around you.
Please note:  This tour includes a 45-50 minute ride on the Waverunner plus time at the different stops. The cost of this tour is per Waverunner which can accommodate two average-sized adults (max 440 lbs. /machine). The tour is sold per machine, not per person.  When booking, please select only one ticket (for 1 or 2 adults).

A wide angle view of stars in the southern night sky.

The southern Milky Way can be a fabulous sight. The image above was taken by one of our team members from Bora Bora on a Tahiti solar eclipse cruise in 2010. It always helps to have a land based stable platform to shoot images like this.  Depending on the ship to shore transfer schedule, it may be possible to get a photo like this when it gets tonight before we depart Moorea.

Depart Moorea around 1100pm for Papeete.


This morning we arrive back into Papeete about 9:00am.   Transfer to the airport for your flight home or extend in Tahiti as you choose.