DIVING FRENCH POLYNESIA ON THE “PAUL GAUGUIN”
When one chooses a dive destination, the choice is usually between great diving and average accommodations / dining choices or superior accommodations/dining choices and average diving. However, one can have it all in a “paradise” that was beautifully described by James Michener, immortalized in song and stage by Rogers and Hammerstein, painted by Paul Gauguin and captivated Fletcher Christians’ heart – French Polynesia.
The M/S Paul Gauguin is a luxury cruise ship of the South Pacific that features a water sports deck off the stern. This affords one an easy entry into a dive boat. On the Paul Gauguin, the dive boats are easy entry Zodiacs – unlike most large dive boats that are crammed with divers – one does not need to exit the ship via a gangway or tender and then travel on to the dive shop.
Diving on the M/S Paul Gauguin is a rather seamless experience. On the first day aboard you may pick up your mask, snorkel and fins on the sports deck, fill out a questionnaire regarding your dive experiences, and reserve your space, after reading the description of the various dives and choose those that most interest you. The dive staff will then determine whether or not you need a refresher course that is conducted in the ship’s pool. In addition to the dive staff, Bobbie Bernigal is the In-house Naturalist who will acquaint and educate you on the native sea life – she is thoroughly interesting and captivating.
It’s at this point that one begins to realize that this dive staff is “special”. Although Laurent, Thiery and Clement were all born in France, all speak English. All are well grounded in French Polynesia, Laurent lives in Mo’orea, Thiery in Tahiti and Clement still lives in Normandy, for now. They are as charming as they are competent, funny as they are serious, leaving one completely at ease in one’s diving experience. All three are experts in the waters of French Polynesia.
Your dives are all about exhilaration, service, excitement and satisfaction. From the time you enter the sports deck, all of your dive gear (BCD, regulator, tank and console) is already aboard the Zodiac labeled with your name. You are handed your weight belt and given a “shortie” wet suit if desired (no charge). The dive profile is presented, emergency signals reviewed and then you are divided in to dive groups of no more than five to a dive master . Climb into your Zodiac and off you go to a terrific diving experience.
What can you expect to see?? Lots of sharks – black tip, lemon and whale sharks (in season), manta rays, moray eels, sea turtles and a plethora of tropical fish all at between 30 – 70 feet. Visibility is good to 100 feet and if one is lucky, you may even run into a pod of dolphins coming back to the lagoon from their nightly feeding in the open ocean.
While other ships may be able to match the Paul Gauguin in one or two of the categories of fine dining, personal service, exotic destination, a world class diving experience – none offer all except the M/S Paul Gauguin. HAPPY DIVING !!!