We are from central Indiana and have traveled quite a bit over 30 years. This was our first trip to the South Pacific. We traveled to LAX from ORD and then onto Papeete, staying in a day room at the Intercontinental. On the ship we had cabin 408. It was in a great location, even during the rocking and rolling sailing days. Our journey to the South Pacific on the Paul Gauguin was a wonderful value despite the costs. I felt a little misled by the all inclusive that included a small frig in your state room "stocked". Beer and water and soft drinks are all that were in the frig. When I asked for a small bottle of rum/vodka for the room I was told no, that we could order room service. No cocktails were served up on the top/sun deck while we were sailing. There were very few lounge chairs up top as well. I asked if some could be brought up for us and was told YES, but they were never delivered. Clearly there are not enough lounge chairs on this ship.
We might possibly be in the minority when it comes to dining on a cruise ship. Food means very little to us, except for nourishment. Everything we ordered/ate was good except for the steaks. But it could be they were non grain fed beef, and that would be the difference right there. The Creme Brulee was the exception, just wonderful. We did enjoy the delicious dessert every time it was offered. It would have been so much better not to insist on reservations on such a small ship in the restaurants. One is so busy with excursions/day trips etc., that making a dining reservation is not of importance. We used the room service for breakfast often, but the stateroom is clearly not a good place for two to dine, the table is very tiny. Food was delivered promptly as ordered.
The Le Gauguin ladies were always cordial, welcoming and willing to help and steer you in the right direction. I especially enjoyed the Pareo tying class at La Palette. Coming back to the dock on Rarotonga and finding one of them playing the ukulele and singing while you waited for the tender was delightful.
Our room stewardess was wonderful, we never wanted for anything. When she discovered it was my birthday she jumped for joy and gave me the biggest hug and good wishes. She was the best.
We were a bit disappointed that our passports were taken away when we checked onto the ship(I understand why) and were not aware that we could have had it back to have it stamped at One Foot Island.
The Polynesian night in Bora Bora aboard ship was intoxicating. You really felt like you belonged to the island wearing the crown of flowers and leis and tropical clothing. Although when I took my crown off and laid it onto my bed, little ants came crawling out of the flowers...
Beware that you really need to research your excursions and be knowledgeable of exactly what is on the islands for you to do/see. I feel that we missed several opportunities, but maybe that is because we are meant to go back again to the South Pacific?? Moorea offered the least of things to do, and believe me there is not much but sightseeing. We did do the Helmet Dive on our second day, and I can highly recommend it. Take a credit card with you because you will want to purchase their video of your dive.
We rented a scooter on Autaucki and visited a nice beach. Rode around to see the island which was beautiful! Take a lightweight back pack with you to put your things in as these scooters have no racks or places to hold your snorkel gear or your camera etc. My husband lost our camera as it slipped out of his pocket on the bike :-( Be warned that you are suppose to get the New Zealand drivers license to drive here.
The ship's day on the Motu was such a wonderful experience. Everything was top notch and you needed nothing but your desire to enjoy it and take photos and your snorkel gear. I can honestly say I never sat down on the motu except to eat and listen to the gentleman speaking on Tahitian vanilla. I wandered and took photos and snorkeled and shopped with the vendors. Such fun!
Loved the disco in La Palette.
I loved that we were able to do the Cruise Critic Roll Call and be able to meet a lot of people on board ship that we were in contact with before we sailed. New friends is always a plus!
It would have been nice for this ship to have even a small/tiny chapel. Sometimes one needs to be quiet and be alone for just a bit.
One last thing. The Internet service is really BAD. Don't' spend your money trying to stay in contact with home. Relax, and enjoy the trip!