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3 Paul Gauguin Cruises Lautoka Cruise Reviews

A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE The following are my personal observations however, i am speaking as well on behalf of dozens of passengers on board the september 21,2019 paul gauguin voyage to fiji, cook and society islands, many of whom came to ... Read More
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE The following are my personal observations however, i am speaking as well on behalf of dozens of passengers on board the september 21,2019 paul gauguin voyage to fiji, cook and society islands, many of whom came to similar if not the same conclusion as myself, that the cost of this cruise far exceeded the value. AIRLINES My first introduction to paul gauguin staff, was while checking in at los angeles international airport on my air/sea package. One of their representatives appeared and checked my name off their list and shortly after disappeared leaving the passengers to fend for ourselves for the next three or four hours. i was then directed to a gate that was at the furthest end of the terminal. It was so cold i thought i must be on the runway itself. I was extremely surprised that paul gauguin had not provided a more comfortable lounge or waiting area exclusively for their passengers. Upon boarding air fiji, i was stunned to see the narrow seats and aisles that we were directed to for a 10 ½ hour flight. After awaking my seat mates during the night while attempting to slide a blanket under my tray table, i spilled the entire contents over my luggage and finally gave up the thought of sleep only to see the crew preparing for an elaborate breakfast which included cold scrambled eggs and uncooked sausage. ACCOMODATIONS After 25 hours of travelling from phoenix, arizona by bus, taxis and air with no sleep, i was transferred from the airport in lautoka, fiji to a very comfortable hotel room where the paul gauguin passengers were allowed to rest or eat until our bus returned eight hours later to transport us to our luxury cruise. Upon boarding, there were the usual formalities of checking in with staff members and providing passports and credit cards so that no one would consider jumping overboard after realizing what was in store for them. My first impression of my cabin which was one deck above the lowest and had a large window seemed comfortable enough until i entered the bath and noticed the shampoo, conditioners and shower gel bolted to the wall akin to a motel 6. The tub was too narrow and deep for me to attempt to lower myself into, being fearful i would never get out and the phone was too far away to call for help. Upon further investigation i realized that some of the cabin drawers were stuck, couldn’t be pried open and one drawer never remained closed. The cushions and carpet were shabby and worn and the bath sink and countertop needed a face lift. I then turned toward the fridge and found that it could not be adjusted and remained luke warm for the duration of the cruise.the few television channels were limited to the same political news with no option for sports or entertainment other than a handful of videos that were unfamiliar even to me at the age of seventy- six. In addition, shipboard announcements could not be heard inside cabin and i had to open the door to decipher them from hallway. CABIN STEWARD Upon entering the shower for the first time, i observed a used bar of hand soap in the tub dish left over from the previous guest. That bar of soap remained in the shower for the remainder of the voyage along with two cocktail napkins dropped on the floor, one by the bedside and one across the room by the waste basket. Bath mat and washcloths were not replaced daily and at one point i requested more cocktail napkins and a washcloth and was presented with a towel and a box of kleenex. CHEFS Total misrepresentation; no fine french cuisine, no caviar (with the exception of an eyedropper of herring caviar for decoration on one menu item), no tableside dining or recognizable french recipes. DECK SERVICE On several occasions i attempted to visit the bar on deck nine only to discover that it was never open. On days we were at sea there were not enough chairs or lounges on sundeck by pool to accommodate all passengers. In order to secure one, you would have to leave an item on it from early morning throughout the entire day. In addition, staff rarely assisted passengers moving chairs or securing towels to lounges. ENTERTAINMENT With the exception of a maitre d’ named alin and jenny, lead singer of the sound wave both of whom are great vocalists, abby and mark were energetic and very talented as was gustavo the mentalist. The remainder of musical talent was mediocre at best. In particular, alex in the piano bar was pitiful to watch. He plays dinner music all evening and blends into the background so completely that he can barely be heard and never encourages guest participation or asks for requests. However, what was most pathetic to watch was many of the crew members attempt to perform in the evening shows for a third of the voyage. Surely paul gaugauin can afford more professional entertainers particularly when some of the crew members are already working two or three different jobs on board. FOOD SERVICE/MENUS If i had known that three out of four meals daily would be served buffet style with an extremely limited a la carte menu ie; hamburgers, reubin sandwiches, and pizza, i would have thrown myself overboard on day one. When crepes suzette and bananas foster, flambe were served cold with sauce over vanilla ice cream (sans flambe), on a buffet line at four in the afternoon for tea time, i was stunned. However, i soon learned that many of the meals served even in the dining rooms were also cold or barely warm. For example, on one occasion, i ordered a lobster tail but made the fatal mistake of asking for a boiled potato instead of the pre-prepared mashed or baked. As a result, i spent two hours waiting to complete dinner. When the small lobster tail arrived, it was served with cold vanilla sauce and the drawn butter that i had to request was cold with no flame underneath to warm it. I then realized that most, if not all of the food served was similar to a factory assembly line where no substitutions could be requested or any deviation from menu items without throwing the kitchen into complete and utter chaos. Perhaps most disturbing was that during the entire cruise i was unable to order french onion soup, lobster bisque, baked alaska or even a croissant. Although in all fairness, it is possible that croissants were served on the buffet lines during breakfast or lunch that i chose not to attend because i refuse to stand in line for food at any time much less as early as 7 a.m. It reminds me too much like being on a chow line during a cattle drive. In addition to the above- mentioned items, i never expected to see chateaubriand served with brown gravy, meat loaf style. When the bernaise sauce was served the following evening, it was horrible as was the unchilled vichyssoise. Nor had i previously seen snails served dry on lettuce leaves. The final shocker came when i discovered the chef’s version of chocolate mousse was not served in a glass goblet but a piece of cake with cream filling between layers, not to mention the fact that we were travelling in the south pacific and i was informed we had run out of shell fish. RESTAURANTS Dining room menus were unavailable until noon on the same day and reservations were required at two of the three dining rooms. However, by the time the menus were posted in front of their respective restaurants only, it was too late to make reservations and i had to wait three nights before having the privilege of entering the grill or l’veranda. I was also informed that since there was limited seating at both locations, priority was given to couples rather than singles, although i had paid an excessive single supplement for the voyage. L’etoile, where i dined several evenings was so crowded that i missed half of the so-called entertainment by the time i finished dinner and one evening i asked for club soda to remove a stain and was told there was none on board despite the fact it was in my cabin refrigerator. I was also surprised to find that none of the ship bars had a coffee or hot chocolate machine, so i was unable to order hot after dinner drinks like irish coffee without a prolonged delay. On one occasion i was served a hot liquor drink in a plain coffee cup rather than a stemmed glass as it should have been. finally, there was no freshly squeezed orange juice available unless specifically requested. RECEPTION The female staff member of the reception desk barely spoke or understood english and ignored several of my requests. At one time she informed me that the cabin television had no sleep timer program available. Fortunately, i checked the tv remote and discovered there was a sleep timer button. During one instance, i asked repeatedly to speak with the purser before she granted me an audience. I found the purser to be argumentative and unwilling to take any responsibility for the difficulties i had thus far encountered. For the remainder of the cruise, i was harassed over an eleven dollar balance on my account, finally insisting that i sign a promissory note prior to disembarking and threatened with legal action if that amount was not received within 7 days. ROOM SERVICE Once again, an extremely limited menu for breakfast /lunch. since i primarily ate most of my early meals in my cabin, one morning i requested hot cereal, namely cream of wheat. To my surprise it was served dry with no milk or cream. On a separate occasion i requested a bloody mary with extra worcestershire sauce and celery salt on the side. I was informed that there was neither worcestershire nor celery salt available until the bars opened after 9:30 a.m. SERVERS The vast majority of crew and staff are philipino. Despite the fact they appear to be extremely polite and hard workers, i found there to be a difficulty with communication and a definite lack of quality cruising experience. Personally, i prefer quality over quantity and good service over pretentiousness. Some restaurant staff were overly solicitous and smarmy. Although being escorted to and from the dining room table is fine, my preference would have been to receive a fish fork or chilled salad plate and fork while dining. STAFF Some officers on board made excuses that due to the transition of ownership by the ponant cruise lines only days before our departure was the cause of dilapidated furnishings and carpet which would soon be replaced. They also claimed it was difficult to get adequate supplies at certain ports. However, that was no consolation to current passengers some of which were seasoned travelers and noted the change in quality from previous voyages ie; toiletries, liquor, wine brands and lower paid labor. It was suggested that travel agents should have been more diligent. In my opinion, unless the agents had recently been on board, they too were exposed to the same misrepresentation of quality by the paul gauguin marketing and advertising department as the rest of the passengers. TOUR DESK Had little to no information on local tours, buses or cabs and were unable to confirm airline seat assignments. During tahitian presentations, tour director was so boring and monotone in his descriptions that i barely could stay awake. He did not ask the audience for questions at conclusion of presentation as i would have expected. He also denied that the day rooms assigned at completion of voyage were determined based on the category stateroom that was purchased. He claimed that the higher quality hotels were fully booked, but were all the same standard which i later discovered was not the case. TAHITI PEARL HOTEL There was no food or beverages included during our stay which i was told by other passengers was not the case at the intercontinental or sofitel hotel dayrooms. There was only one english speaking channel to watch on television and very few of the staff spoke english. The inroom refrigerator was warm. There were no robes, slippers or wash cloths and the toilet barely flushed. The room was worn and dated very much like the ship, both past their prime. Upon my return home, i made several attempts to contact diana moore, ceo of paul gauguin by phone leaving unreturned messages. Finally, due to sheer luck and persistence, i randomly dialed an extension and heard a female voice proclaiming to be sandy stevens (spelled with a v, she insisted), vice president of sales and guest relations. At that moment i was sorely tempted to respond ‘’well, this is queen elizabeth (spelled with a z’’). however, i resisted and instead attempted to share my concerns and experience s. I was immediately shot down and informed that ms. Moore was too busy preparing for her european trip to speak with me and that she herself had only fifteen minutes before her next meeting. During the next ten minutes, i perceived ms. Stevens (with a v) to be arrogant, belligerent, indifferent and unwilling to accept any criticism, constructive or otherwise. She informed me that it would be futile to proceed any further in hopes of any reimbursement or compensation for my thoroughly deplorable experience. Therefore, i am hoping this review will enlighten any future passengers who are contemplating travel on paul gauguin so they won’t be misled by glossy photos and unfulfilled promises of a glamorous past that no longer exists. It is unfortunate that paul gauguin cruises has chosen to ignore myself and concededly a minimum of twenty percent of my shipmates who shared my disappointment and dissatisfaction on board a ship that once was a unique and elegant voyage but has since seen better days and is now existing on their previous reputation. As to my fellow travellers, i commend you for your good will, companionship and joviality that made an otherwise intolerable situation not only bearable but frequently enjoyable. In conclusion, paul gauguin’s marketing and advertising campaign claims to offer fine french cuisine and luxurious accommodations. Well, you can label anything you want as one thing but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. In my opinion, there was nothing fine, french or luxurious on paul gauguin except the scenery. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
After a LONG flight to Fiji (over 24 hours total), and losing a full day, we made it to Lautoka and our hotel room for the day prior to boarding. Fiji Airlines was super comfortable in economy, there was plenty of free entertainment, and ... Read More
After a LONG flight to Fiji (over 24 hours total), and losing a full day, we made it to Lautoka and our hotel room for the day prior to boarding. Fiji Airlines was super comfortable in economy, there was plenty of free entertainment, and the food was decent. The Sofitel was beautiful and relaxing after our long flight. The pool was very welcome! Since we had booked our included air through PGC, all our transfers were included. One headache we didn't have to deal with! Boarding the ship was easy as pie. With only 325 guests, there's NEVER a line. We were shown to our cabin, 432, and proceeded to settle in. Our bags made it BEFORE we did!!! Time to unpack and prepare for Muster. The Gauguin had just come out of dry dock and she looked spic and span! New flooring/deck around pool on 8, new furniture and lounge chairs too! Gorgeous! La Palette had new barrel chairs, but the head of Hotels mentioned they are too large and will be replaced. I found them to be super comfortable, but YES, they are LARGE! We were on a "once every 2 years" itinerary...Fiji to Tahiti, with crossing the international date line! I ticked that off my list! The ports were great. Only complaint? Fiji and Tahiti are very Christian and there is little to do on a Sunday. We booked a tour, so it wasn't a problem though. The weather tried to cooperate, but we had some sea days with rain and some light rain in ports. We started in Lautoka, Fiji; then Suva, Fiji; and Savusavu, Fiji. Then a sea day on our way to Vava'u, Tonga. I absolutely LOVED Tonga! The Ene'io Tongan Feast was delicious and the entertainment was beautiful. After Tonga we had 2 days at sea while we crossed the Int'l Dateline. The weather got rainy by the second day at sea and worse by the time we reached Aitutaki, Cook Islands. It was so bad, the Captain decided to cut our stay short and just head to Bora Bora so we could catch some of the Heiva Festival. We kept busy during the raining sea days building boats for a pool boat race, eating, drinking, hearing a guest pianist, watching the Gaugins/Gauguines perform, Que Bola magic shows, and hearing great talks from Mr. Cousteau and motivational speaker, Tom O'Neil. What fun! I took 3rd place in the race. There were about 20 boats :) We arrived in Bora Bora around 10 pm and were able to tender in to see the Heiva dancers and check out the festival. We would overnight here. Our shore excursion for Bora Bora was the Underwater Walk. I had done this 2 years ago and it didn't disappoint!!! After the Underwater Walk, we headed back to the ship and got our things so we could go to Gauguin's private, secluded beach in Bora Bora. We took the tender to the motu/beach and had our first wet landing. What fun!!! No chairs, no bathrooms; just beautiful stretches of white sand, sun, and snorkeling! They provided soft drinks, water, chips, peanuts, and beer. After a couple hours it was time to head back to the ship for lunch, followed by another tender into town for some shopping. The next day we were at PG's private motu; Motu Mohana. Another wet landing, but with far more amenities! Lounge chairs, bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, full bar, swim up bar, snorkeling, kayaks, great swimming, and the best bbq EVER! It was a full day of sun and fun! I found the snorkeling to be better than the tours we had paid for! I saw an eel, an octopus, sea cucumbers galore, sea urchins, tons of fish, beautiful coral, and clams. Do not miss this Motu. It's included in EVERY cruise they do. Our next stop was to Moorea. There is so much to see and do on this island. We took a catamaran tour of the bay, followed by snorkeling. It was a great time! On to Papeete for our last night. Time to pack our bags and have our last big dinner. :( Since our flight out was so late, we took the free Papeete tour before arriving at our hotel with included day room at the Tahiti Pearl. We didn't have to be out of our cabin until 9:30, which was nice. Our disembarkation was set for 12:20. Plenty to do, as all the bars, restaurants were open for us. Since all meals, drinks, etc. are included in the cruise fare, the ship still serves you until you actually leave. Not like other lines where you have to beg for a bottle of water or food. After disembarking and taking our tour, we were delivered to the Tahiti Pearl until 7pm. Our room was delightful and had a HUGE lanai with a fabulous view of the bay. It was nice to be able to swim, eat a little something, and have a shower, etc. before our LONG flight home. The bus took us to the airport around 9pm for our midnight flight on Air Tahiti Nui. About Air Tahiti Nui: I think we got the OLDEST PLANE IN THEIR FLEET! Ugh! The seats were about 16 inches wide at the MOST. The entertainment was sub par, to say the least. Movies just played...the magazine was inaccurate, so I had no idea what was playing on each channel, and if you had to get up to let someone out of the row, you couldn't pause your show. No USB for charging phones, etc. Really bare bones. The service was fine, and the food was great, but it didn't matter when we were all uncomfortable! I feel it's a disservice to this Luxury Cruise Line to put their passengers on these planes. It leaves a bad taste in one's mouth after two weeks of pampering and top notch service. Air Tahiti Nui probably has better equipment, but I wasn't on that plane. Paul Gauguin needs to reassess their airline choice if they want high marks. That being said, I would sail with them again. In fact, I sailed with them in 2015 and will sail in 2018 and 2019 with my husband. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
The itinerary-Lautoka and Suva Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu-all away from the usual haunts and ports-of-call for the Paul Gauguin. None disappointed. The highlight- backcountry excursion in Vanuatu from which we returned covered in ash ... Read More
The itinerary-Lautoka and Suva Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu-all away from the usual haunts and ports-of-call for the Paul Gauguin. None disappointed. The highlight- backcountry excursion in Vanuatu from which we returned covered in ash and dirt. sore from the impromptu ride in the back of a pick-up truck but exhiliarated from the sights and sounds of and energy of an actively erupting volcano and tribal village stop en route. The voyage was first-rate overall as always with PG- clean, comfortable ship with all the amenities including casino and marina, excellent food and no dinner-time buffets, and incredible staff and crew. Interesting expert commentators lecturing on coral and the reefs as well as Polynesian history and cultures. The downsides: as this was not a usual itinerary for PG, some of the excursions were less than advertised. Some lectures and entertainment were more appropriate to Tahiti than the South Pacific Islands visited. This was a trip attractive to scuba divers but the quota of spots available on most dive excursions was quite limited and a number of interested divers were disappointed by being SRO. Overall, an interesting cruise in luxury to sites less-often visited and an opportunity to snorkel and dive on some of the world's best preserved reefs. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
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