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Paul Gauguin Review

5.0 / 5.0
313 reviews
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Editor Rating
Colleen McDaniel

French Polynesia has long been the center of the universe for romantics looking for the ultimate get-away-from-it-all vacation. Adventure-seekers are equally drawn to this chain of 118 islands and motus (little islands) and make the long-haul trip to dive, snorkel, hike and swim with sea turtles, black-tipped sharks and stingrays. Enter Paul Gauguin Cruises, whose flagship of the same name was purpose-built for the region. In a destination that truly is the draw, this luxury vessel provides a comfortable, all-inclusive cruise experience, where the ship, appropriately, serves as a background to the scenery.

Service onboard is among the best we've experienced on any ship, with 214 crewmembers anticipating every need. (We had to laugh when, while attempting to get a cup of tea from the self-service station, three waiters intervened, instructing us to sit down while they served us.) Crew seem genuinely happy performing their jobs; the proof is in the number of crew who have impressively long tenures with the ship, according to Paul Gauguin's hotel director.

For that reason, crewmembers know these islands intimately and pass along that expertise to you. You'll learn about the Polynesian islands from residents themselves, as well as from renowned archaeologists and marine biologists. You'll go ashore with highly rated guides and tour operators, and pre- and post-cruise partner hotels -- Pacific Beachcomber operates six mid-level and luxury resorts on the islands -- will wow you.

Dining options are excellent, with fresh-caught seafood and over-the-top French cuisine, as well as Polynesian standards that will have you eagerly anticipating your next meal. Wines, cocktails, spirits, juices and soft drinks are included in the cruise fares and available all day.

Paul Gauguin's marina, which opens to the lagoons in various ports, is a fun chance to play on the water without needing a tender to leave the ship.

Paul Gauguin is meticulously maintained, though it doesn't have the bells and whistles of newer ships. It doesn't need them. Those searching for a vacation that combines some lazy days with more active outdoor pursuits will be hard-pressed to find a better fit in French Polynesia than Paul Gauguin.


Top-notch service and gourmet dining in three restaurants


Limited onboard activities during days in port

Bottom Line

Active cruise that highlights French Polynesian destinations


Passengers: 332
Crew: 214
Passenger to Crew: 1.55:1
Launched: 1997
Shore Excursions: 89

Sails From

Fellow Passengers

The average passenger age is 55 to 60 years old, but you'll get a solid smattering of younger passengers. A bucket-list destination, French Polynesia -- and Paul Gauguin in particular -- also draws a number of honeymooners. Travelers come mostly from the United States and France, but it's not unusual to find you're traveling with people from Australia, the U.K., Japan and China. Passengers tend to be well traveled. They're also loyal. A good number of people return to the ship again and again; it's common that 40 to 50 passengers on each voyage are "repeaters." Passengers also are fairly active, spending time in the fitness center and snorkeling or scuba diving at the various port stops. Announcements onboard are typically made in English first, then French.

Paul Gauguin Dress Code

These tropical itineraries call for casual attire by day and country-club or elegant resortwear clothing by night. During the day, you'll need bathing suits, cover-ups, shorts, shoes that are comfortable for walking or hiking, and reef shoes, a must for the private island experiences, where rocks, broken bits of coral and sea cucumbers can make for an uncomfortable walk. Bug spray with DEET is also a necessity in the lush, tropical environment.

At night, women traditionally wear skirts or slacks or capris with blouses, and men go for trousers and short-sleeved collared shirts. (Think "Tommy Bahama," rather than golf shirts.) On Tahitian Night, which occurs once a cruise, women are encouraged to wear pareos (Tahitian wraparound skirts, which are available ashore at the various ports or in the ship's gift shop), and men don Polynesian shirts. Fill your suitcase with lightweight clothes made of natural fibers (cotton, linen and silk), and you'll have everything you need.

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More about Paul Gauguin

Where does Paul Gauguin sail from?

Paul Gauguin departs from Tahiti

Where does Paul Gauguin sail to?

How much does it cost to go on Paul Gauguin?

Cruises on Paul Gauguin start from $3,530 per person.

Is Paul Gauguin a good ship to cruise on?

Paul Gauguin won 52 awards over the years.
Paul Gauguin Cruiser Reviews

An incredible exploration of the Tuamotus, Marquesas and Society Islands

If you're looking for a cruise to lay about in the sun and paddle in lagoons around French Polynesia, there are choices other than the Paul Gauguin which better suit that.Read More

2-5 Cruises

Age 50s

Definitely Not a 5 Star Experience

Paul Gauguin under Ponant gets a big thumbs down from me!Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 60s

Seven Day French Polynesian Cruise

The Gauguin is an older ship and apparently does not have the stabilizers of newer ships.Read More

6-10 Cruises

Age 70s

I cannot say enough about this small ship and the crew and the service!

In wanting to explore the South Pacific and the islands, we chose the small ship, The Paul Gauguin. The service and information available to us in preparation for the trip was superb.Read More
Sophie the dog

2-5 Cruises

Age 70s

Paul Gauguin Cruises Fleet
Paul Gauguin
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