There is absolutely no comparable experience to being on the m/s Paul Gauguin in the South Pacific. This was our third time back onboard...and certainly not our last. Thanks to our wonderful travel agent, we were upgraded to the Paul Gauguin Grand Suite (801) at the front of the ship above the bridge. This itinerary was 14 days to the Marquesas, Tuamotu, and Society Islands.
First time to Huahine...an absolutely spectacular island. The beauty Marquesas Islands were as beautiful as they are remote. Due to a critical accident which required that a passenger be airlifted back to Papeete, we had an additional day at sea (a total of five). Many passengers do not like sea days, but we think that it provides extra relaxation since you are not rushing to an excursion and they are also great days to take advantage of the spa services! We bought bicycles in Papeete at Pacific Cycles for about $250 each and brought them on board. We were able to ride on many of the islands and it was a great way to sight see and get some exercise. At the end of the cruise, we donated the bikes to the crew so that they have them to use when they are allowed to have some time off the ship.
There is much conversation about whether a balcony and/or butler is worth the expense. We have had both on all three trips and to us there are well worth it. Our stateroom had two balconies including a huge one on the front of the ship. We spent a lot of time on the balconies as were arrived/departed ports, watching sunsets and star gazing. Our butlers, Shernan and Abner, absolutely made the trip special. Each afternoon one would show up with cocktails and appetizers just in time for sunset. They also made reservations in the various restaurants and handled a variety of special requests with a smile.
There has also been a lot of discussion about PG during the Regent days vs. post Regent. Having been on both sides of that fence, let me assure any doubters that the experience has actually improved under the new leadership. They have implemented ways to enhance the experience including a Block Party where everyone brings a wine glass into the hall and socializes with other passengers while the crew serves wine (sounded cheesy, but it was a lot of fun!) and a sail away gathering in the bridge for repeat passengers.
The entertainment on board is always fun. Michael Shapiro is the hardest working Cruise Director in the industry. While the ship does not have big productions and high priced talent, the shows are always fun. The band (Santa Rosa) and pianist (Rueben) are very talented.
The food is outstanding. Chef Grant and the entire restaurant/bar staff do an outstanding job of keeping it interesting over the length of the cruise. Lots of fresh fish and produce purchased at ports along the way. The wine selections each day were great...and included!
All said, the best part of the cruise continues to be the service. Each and every staff member went out of their way to make everything perfect...without exception. Everyone was smiling and cheerful...and called guests by their names after day one.
We were able to view the new decor plans that will take place during the January dry dock and 2012 passengers are in for a treat. The colors/fabrics are more tropical and lush. Every part of the ship will get a new look and should be spectacular.
If you are planning your first trip on Paul Gauguin...be aware! This is a "trip of a lifetime" that you will want to take over and over!