We did a one night prestay and a day poststay at the Tahiti Intercontinental. Now this is a great property! We did the 14 day cruise to the Tuamotus (we saw one island), the Marquesas (four islands), and the Society Islands (five islands). We really aren't cruise travelers, so the days at sea were long and there were two rough nights at sea. Due to high winds and rough water, we missed going ashore on one of the islands in the Marquesas and Huahine. The Tuamotus are interesting as they are atolls, remainders of coral reefs after the islands have disappeared. The Marquesas are beautiful, and interesting historically, but there are no coral reefs so no water activity. The Society Islands are the stars here so if you are craving beauty, water activity, and some history, these islands are perfect.
We would describe the Paul Gauguin as a luxury cruise ship. Service is absolutely topnotch as is the food. The small size was a plus for us-ship was not full and we had about 260 passengers. The small size would be a deterrent if you want a lot of entertainment. Entertainment was largely enrichment lectures, with one show per night for an hour. Enrichment was terrific with anthropologist Mark Eddowes and naturalist Bobbie. The Gauguines were also great entertainment and did many daytime activities. There is a small fitness room, a nice but expensive spa (we used when we were at sea), and a small casino and lounge. There is a small pool and deck as well and a deck above the pool deck. There are three restaurants and all were excellent. We especially enjoyed Le Grill and Le Veranda for evening meals. Eating when we wanted and with whom we wanted was a plus for us. So was the casual dress. We would highly suggest doing many of the excursions unless you are just on the cruise to rest. They are really the only way to see and experience the islands as there isn't much in the ports. Or you could do your own excursions.
We liked the convenience of the ship's excursions. We did rent a car on Bora Bora and did the circle island tour on our own, but if you are only in port one day, cars are usually already taken. So book ahead. We did many of Mark Eddowes excursions and lectures which are historical in nature. We also did any driving tours of the islands to see and experience them. We did the whale and dolphin watch in Moorea which was great as we saw both. Snorkeling was great in Bora Bora and we heard the same of Moorea. Embarkation on the ship is a breeze.
Disembarkation was highly organized and pain free. The ship served both breakfast and lunch. We took the time before disembarking to see a little of Papette-the waterfront, cathedral, market. We also took the free Tahiti tour offered by the ship before going to our day room (we had a night departure flight). It was an okay tour but in retrospect, we would have just gone to the Intercontinental and enjoyed their amenities.