After leaving my heart in Tahiti with the Paul Gauguin and its crew, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new PG ship, the Tere Moana. Although so many reviews deemed it the "Terrible Moana", I was confident that DH and I could have a ball on any boat, especially in the Caribbean.
So, here we go.
The port in Galisbay, St. Martin is a bit third world. If you've been on the Paul Gauguin, the on-boarding experience for the Tere Moana isn't nearly as nice. You pull up to a gate at the port where a Caribbean guard takes your passports and goes back into the building for about 10 minutes. I felt a bit uneasy about my passport running away, but had faith it would return.
Once you get into the pier, you are dropped off at a hot shipping container, where people who aren't necessarily wearing PG clothing, quickly take your bags and send you into "security" inside the shipping container. After the shipping container, you are loaded into someone's random mini-van and driven the 150 yard to a tired looking yacht"" oh wait, it's the Tere Moana.
While the outside of the boat is a little unassuming there is no denying that she is going to take you to fabulous destinations, clearly, due to her size. Tere Moana only has 45 staterooms and 90 total guest, making it easy to navigate into ports that larger ships cannot.
After stepping inside Tere Moana and getting the standard welcome glass of Champagne from the friendly staff, I was shocked by how small the boat was. Yes, I was expecting it to be tiny; no, I didn't realize I could throw a baseball (with my girly arm) the length of the boat.
The ships refurbishment was lovelyâ€" little touches of the namesake Tahitian boat, like artwork, etc. and yet still elegantly appointed. The staterooms were some of my favorite we have seen-- beautifully decorated with calm colors, a nice sized window (we were in C class on the pursers deck), and a pretty good sized bathroom, although a bit space-capsule-esque. There is ample closet and storage space, even having 3 adults in the cabin.
As for tips on room location, try to stay away from the Grand Salon if you are a light sleeper, as the Karaoke Gods may wake you well into the night meaning about 11:15pm, since everyone was in bed no later than 10pm. Nonetheless, it could be fairly painful to listen to the constant wailing in the meantime. Make sure to bring a fan if you like your room cold. The A/C is certainly as old as the boat and kept the room livable, but certainly not cool.
The pool looks more like a hot tub based on size, but is clean and conveniently located with Vishel working the pool bar during the day. Unlike the PG, the bar opens at 8:30am making your ever-growing need for a Bloody Mary happy. The crew keeps each lounge chair stocked with fresh beach towels all day.
Something a little different on the Tere Moana are the tenders also known as Zodiacs. I happened to adore them, but they certainly are exposed to the elements. You can get a little wet, and they can be a bit slippery (we saw the Cruise Director slip and accidentally punch a crew member in the face!) and subject to the motion of the oceanâ€¦
The "tenders and crew are wonderful and really make you feel like you are part of an exclusive yachting cruise. The only down side was that the crew was told to run on a specific schedule" which I totally understand however, when the tenders are completely full with a line of people waiting, there is no reason for them to stay parked at the dock for another 15 minutes in the sun.
The food was fine. Some things were incredible like their soups and presentations of every dish. Some items were atrocious like having the same short list of breakfast options EVERY. MORNING. Or finding a grasspur in your salad. Or the curdled creme brulee
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, order your food spicy. I live for spicy food and this stuff was downright nuclear-- Blow your socks of and send your running for the bathroom hot. The chef was certainly heavy handed in regards to the cayenne pepper.
Also, be aware that there is only one option for dining for dinner in a restaurant.
That brings me to the downsides of Tere Moana which haven't been worked out on the new ship.
The Schedule. It changed 2 times. There were no storms. No broken generators. No reasons.Well, I lied. There was a reason for the first change, which I appreciated. There were to be large cruise ships in port with us at one of the islands. PG thought ahead to help make our experience better with lesser people, so they made that change. What irked me most was when we boared the ship and found a new itinerary.
You have to be kidding me! I went on my own and found a private tour to take us around the islands on the first day. After the second last minute schedule change, our guide had to go even further to pick us up, which meant more in fuel charges for our group. When we asked our "Cruise Concierge" Manuel, he shrugged his shoulders and said I should call my vendor to figure out what to do? Umm, really? Hey mister, pretty sure you shouldn't be in the customer service industry.
And Manuel's poor attitude didn't stop there. He made similarly nasty comments to other guests on board the ship during the course of the cruise. I'm thinking he got a good talking to (by the PG Corporate Team, which was on board to see what was going on with the bad reviews!), because halfway through the cruise Manuel did an about-face. He ended the cruise with a slightly better disposition than he began. My guess is he won't be on the ship much longer at least he shouldn't be.
On the pier, other cruise ships had the standard Paul Gauguin style tents with cold water, tea and cold towels. The passengers on the Tere Moana were left to their own devices and sought shelter under a restaurant overhang. Ultimately, on the days when things like this happened, we all felt like we made a bad decision spending as much as we did on the Tere Moana, instead of picking a similarly priced competitor. When we finally got back to the ship, the normal offering of cold towels and waters were gone just an empty tray and coke can. After a long day, this tiny feature added up to disappointment at its finest.
So, here's the deal. DH and I did have a blast. We met some wonderful people and thoroughly enjoyed the islands. We visited locales we have never been to in the Caribbean and had a heck of a vacation. Was I disappointed at the Tere Moana? Yes. Would I go on it again? ehhh. Maybe. Will I continue to rave and fly for hours to get to the Paul Gauguin in Tahiti? Most certainly.
If you're already booked keep your reservation. Just realize what you're going into. The boat is small. TINY. It's forced socialization at its finest sometimes you just don't want to fess up to the 8th beach bar you've visited on your trip in lieu of an archaeological site. But with that socialization and small feel comes prime destinations, a family atmosphere and personalized service.
Tere Moana is having some growing pains, but is not to be written off. I'm confident the PG Corporate team who was on board this cruise, went back with some valuable information and will be making ample changes. Either way, Tere Moana certainly has the potential to be a major rival for her competitors... just think of her as a diamond in the rough.
For pictures of the TM and our vacation, visit www.sunscreenrequired.com