French Polynesia is far away from just about everywhere, and the entire reason people go there generally is to enjoy the beauty of nature. No one wants to be cooped up inside, so it's good news that all Paul Gauguin cabins have ocean views and that almost 70 percent are equipped with balconies. Cabins are quite comfortable and well appointed, though they feel a bit dated when compared with those on newer ships.
Cabins range from 200 to 588 square feet, including the balconies. Most utilize actual queen-size mattresses that don't split into two single beds, although a few cabins are equipped with twin beds that can convert to queens. All but six cabins come with tub-and-shower combinations; the other cabins, including the one wheelchair-accessible cabin, offer showers only. Bathtubs are a bit narrow, with tall sides, so passengers should take care not to step too wide while in the shower and lose their balance. L'Occitane bath products are standard in all cabins. The bathroom amenity kits include verbena-scented shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion, as well as a shower cap, Q-tips, cotton balls, a nail file and bar soap.
The comfortable beds are topped with feather-down duvets. The closets are each stocked with a hair dryer, robes and cotton slippers. Each cabin features a seating area, with a small table, couch and ottoman, as well as a vanity/desk combination. Cabins have small flat-screen TVs with channels including Fox News, Sky Sports 1, CNN and BBC. Movie channels, which loop different movies each day, are available in English and French, and all TVs are equipped with DVD players; you can borrow DVDs from the reception area on Deck 4.
While all cabins have refrigerators that are replenished daily with soda, beer and water, those staying in the 26 cabins that are verandah staterooms (Category B) or higher also get in-suite bar setups and butler service. Cabins and suites share a color palette that includes red carpeting, darkly lacquered cabinetry, chiffon yellow and sheer draperies, beige sofas and brown ottomans, as well as lots of mirrors, including a massive floor-to-ceiling mirror in front of the bed. Drawer space is limited, but the wardrobes offer space enough for hanging virtually any clothing item.
Balconies vary in size, but each includes at least two wicker sitting chairs and a small glass table. Larger balconies are outfitted with chaise lounges.
If you're going whole hog on this trip, book early, and snag a suite. There are two Owner's Suites -- one that's 457 square feet with a 77-square-foot balcony and one that's 531 square feet with a 57-square-foot balcony -- that offer separate sleeping and dining/sitting areas. Two 332-square-foot Grand Suites offer spacious combined living and sleeping spots, along with huge 197-square-foot wraparound verandahs.
A step down from the Grand Suites are the Category A verandah suites at 300 square feet each. They're spacious but have less seating in the living areas than what's offered in higher categories. The balconies are 58 square feet apiece. Category B verandah staterooms are popular because they offer a decent amount of square footage (249, plus 56-square-foot verandahs) and, like the above-mentioned accommodations, include butler service.