Having been on 4 cruises with Seadream including the epic Amazon trip and never feeling disappointed with all the boat had to offer .....we were recommended the Paul Gauguin as a real alternative comparison to see a part of the world that Seadream doesn't sail in.
We took up the specially promoted Whale watching tour in the South Pacific which included a detour away from the society islands down to Rurutu in the Australs (some 350 miles south) to witness a great whale watching experience with the Humpback Whale population. The tour included Jean Michel Cousteau & other expert whale academics.
During the first part of our tour we were not disappointed with our experiences on TaHa'a , Huehine & Bora Bora , seeing both sharks and whales close up in the lagoon surrounding Bora Bora. The islands are spectacular and the people very welcoming. The on-board Polynesian team delivered great high quality entertainment along with their duties as hosts along the way.
After the Society islands we journeyed for a whole day at sea down to Rurutu to see the whales. I was slightly surprised at outset to receive a booking for a 1hour tender whale watching slot ! ( after that journey). However , when we got there the whales decided to vacate and we caught long distance glimpses. We spent a little time on the sparsely populated island and then proceeded on a further 1 day at sea back to the Society Islands (Moorea) where the Whales were in abundance. We had a trip out with Dr Michael Poole and had close up sightings of Spinner dolphins and the Humpback whales. The need for our expensive diversion to the south seemed like an extravagance too far and not necessary ( particularly as the whales are commonly sighted in the society islands at this time)
In short , the islands were great , the people fantastic ....but the boat fell short of its billing. The food was good but not exceptional , the service was all about getting you through your meals in record time. You had to be in the know to realise that booking all your restaurants the moment you get on Board will save you the embarassment of having to wait 5days for next available slot! ( on a boat that was well short of capacity) . The lectures were informative & the accommodation was very good.
However all this comes at a high price and the overall experience (whilst good ) was not equivalent to the quality we received on our previous cruises. The extra 3 day diversion was a real let down as there was little content at all ( i know that whales cannot be ordered to stay around but they are commonly found further north so the need to go there appeared weak and felt like a filler to make the cruise its full length.