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We spent three nights prior to the cruise in Moorea and took the 3 PM Arameti ferry to Papeete along with several other cruisers. It was a short walk (800 feet maybe) from where we reclaimed our baggage to the end of the PG dock. Two porters quickly joined us to take our luggage. We had changed cabins (upsell) after our luggage tags were mailed, but updated tags were quickly provided. We walked to the ship and were welcomed and guided to checkin in the lounge on deck 5. Quick and easy - passport, credit card swipe, and photo - no lines. We were then escorted to our cabin on deck 7 and arrived just after our luggage. The cruise itself was exceptional. Although we are experienced cruisers having taken 14, mostly with Celebrity, this was our first (very) small ship cruise. The staff was exceptional with many remembering your name after the first meeting. Our cabin on deck seven was delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed having a balcony. The cabin attendant kept the room sparkling and our refrigerator stocked with our favorites. Dining staff was quite attentive and quickly learned our preferences. We had no trouble obtaining a table for two (or more if wanted) and although not assigned a table were generally seated in the same area. The waiters quickly learned our preferences and had it at the table as we arrived. As others have reported the Gauguines, although small in number, are everywhere serving as hosts, at the tender landing to assist in boarding, etc. The assistant cruise director was an upbeat fun person from France who mingled with all the passengers. The CD generally introduced the shows and little else. Age range was all over (10-80) with several newlyweds and many older couples doing vow renewals. Since this was a cruise with Jean-Michel Cousteau onboard there were extensive activities and two "guides" for the kids who really seemed to enjoy the interaction often preferring to go with "their" group instead of mom and dad. Costeau's presentations along with one from Mark Eddowes were excellent. There are, however, several differences from a larger ship. The biggest being it moves a lot more. Thus the port order may change if there is bad weather forecast. On our cruise a low developed over Moorea and we spent an extra day in Bora Bora after Taha'a since that harbor was more protected. Please note that you tender to every island except Tahiti and the landing on the private motu may be a very "wet" one - above the knees high and unexpected by some vertically challenged guests. On board entertainment venues are very limited and there is one show at 9:30 or 10:00. You get to know your fellow passengers quite well. Not sure that I would want to spend several sea days onboard, although the library looked interesting. There are three choices for dining - main dining room in Etoile (no reservations), French dining in La Veranda (reservation required) and a grill, Le Grille (reservations required). There was never a wait for dining in the main dining room at 6:30 - 7:00. Reservations were generally available with a day or two advanced notice. The food was very good. I personally preferred the main dining room as the menu changed nightly and had a great variety. Breakfast and lunch were available in La Veranda and Le Grille. Buffet style and order off the menu in both locations. Lamb chops were available for breakfast. We were particularly impressed by the staff and their attention to detail. Our prebooked tour tickets were in our room on arrival with two exceptions. We had a note from the travel desk to check with them. Fearing they had been cancelled, we were pleasantly surprised when they asked us to review them as they had very similar stops. Can't say enough about the dining room staff especially maitre d's Raffy and Christian and their team. We did a combination of ship and private tours: Moorea - Moorea Miti Tours - a great small group snorkeling excursion with no more than 12 people. Tour departs early so you beat the crowds and wave runners to the stingray site. The boat was so easy to reenter after snorkeling or lunch, which by the way was quite tasty eaten while sitting at a table with our feet in the water. Olivia and Romain are great hosts and operators who obviously enjoy their venture. Although we were at the Hilton before the cruise, we stopped at the tender pier for two guests from the Paul Gauguin. Huahine - Huahine Nautiqe - A land tour to see multiple sites followed by an outrigger canoe ride, drift snorkel, lunch on a motu and return to the dock. Absolutely outstanding land tour, snorkeling and lunch with lots of fun times. Bora Bora - Day 1 - Pure snorkeling. Outstanding small boat - 6 people - tour with four snorkeling stops with Fabien. Absolutely gorgeous sites. Day 2 - Maohi Nui ship tour. Good snorkeling with three stops and 10 people. Since our departure was changed from 1700 to 1200 it was nice to be on a ship sponsored excursion as we caught the last tender to the ship. Rangiroa - Gauguin Pearl Farm ship's tour. Nice tour of a pearl farm on a Sunday when most other businesses were closed. Excellent explanation of pearl farming with nice selection to buy afterwards. No pressure to purchase. Fakarava - Walked around town parallel to the coast originally planning to snorkel off the local beach, but there were numerous sharks and we weren't sure they were the friendly types used to tourists that we swam with before. We also learned of a large tidal pool with lots of interesting critters that was accessible if you walked perpendicular to the coast for about two blocks from the tender landing (the island isn't very wide). Friends raved about Ato's tour - next time. Bora Bora - Day 3 (returned due to weather). Island tour with Le Truck ship's tour. Since both earlier days in BB had been devoted to snorkeling (and it being out of the question due to weather), this was an excellent three hour tour with multiple stops including Mama Edna's and Bloody Mary's. Moorea - Since we had spent three days before the cruise on Moorea, we were not disappointed in spending the scheduled first day in Bora Bora. On the second day we visited the shops on the pier, packed and relaxed before the trip home. Tahiti – Had a great tour with Tracey (Unique Tahiti Tours) exploring the west coast of the island and part of Tahiti Iti in her spacious Mercedes van. Not only did we tour, but her commentary provided a lot of info about the island and FP in general. Overnight at the Intercontinental. Not to the same standard as the Moorea Hilton, but nice for a night. We were glad we had pre-booked with the concierge a taxi for our early morning (Air France) departure as there we none in the taxi queue.

First Time PG Cruiser Does Tahiti and the Tuamotus

Paul Gauguin Cruise Review by BSinPNS

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We spent three nights prior to the cruise in Moorea and took the 3 PM Arameti ferry to Papeete along with several other cruisers. It was a short walk (800 feet maybe) from where we reclaimed our baggage to the end of the PG dock. Two porters quickly joined us to take our luggage. We had changed cabins (upsell) after our luggage tags were mailed, but updated tags were quickly provided. We walked to the ship and were welcomed and guided to checkin in the lounge on deck 5. Quick and easy - passport, credit card swipe, and photo - no lines. We were then escorted to our cabin on deck 7 and arrived just after our luggage.

The cruise itself was exceptional. Although we are experienced cruisers having taken 14, mostly with Celebrity, this was our first (very) small ship cruise. The staff was exceptional with many remembering your name after the first meeting. Our cabin on deck seven was delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed having a balcony. The cabin attendant kept the room sparkling and our refrigerator stocked with our favorites. Dining staff was quite attentive and quickly learned our preferences. We had no trouble obtaining a table for two (or more if wanted) and although not assigned a table were generally seated in the same area. The waiters quickly learned our preferences and had it at the table as we arrived. As others have reported the Gauguines, although small in number, are everywhere serving as hosts, at the tender landing to assist in boarding, etc. The assistant cruise director was an upbeat fun person from France who mingled with all the passengers. The CD generally introduced the shows and little else.

Age range was all over (10-80) with several newlyweds and many older couples doing vow renewals. Since this was a cruise with Jean-Michel Cousteau onboard there were extensive activities and two "guides" for the kids who really seemed to enjoy the interaction often preferring to go with "their" group instead of mom and dad. Costeau's presentations along with one from Mark Eddowes were excellent.

There are, however, several differences from a larger ship. The biggest being it moves a lot more. Thus the port order may change if there is bad weather forecast. On our cruise a low developed over Moorea and we spent an extra day in Bora Bora after Taha'a since that harbor was more protected. Please note that you tender to every island except Tahiti and the landing on the private motu may be a very "wet" one - above the knees high and unexpected by some vertically challenged guests. On board entertainment venues are very limited and there is one show at 9:30 or 10:00. You get to know your fellow passengers quite well. Not sure that I would want to spend several sea days onboard, although the library looked interesting.

There are three choices for dining - main dining room in Etoile (no reservations), French dining in La Veranda (reservation required) and a grill, Le Grille (reservations required). There was never a wait for dining in the main dining room at 6:30 - 7:00. Reservations were generally available with a day or two advanced notice. The food was very good. I personally preferred the main dining room as the menu changed nightly and had a great variety. Breakfast and lunch were available in La Veranda and Le Grille. Buffet style and order off the menu in both locations. Lamb chops were available for breakfast.

We were particularly impressed by the staff and their attention to detail. Our prebooked tour tickets were in our room on arrival with two exceptions. We had a note from the travel desk to check with them. Fearing they had been cancelled, we were pleasantly surprised when they asked us to review them as they had very similar stops. Can't say enough about the dining room staff especially maitre d's Raffy and Christian and their team.

We did a combination of ship and private tours:

Moorea - Moorea Miti Tours - a great small group snorkeling excursion with no more than 12 people. Tour departs early so you beat the crowds and wave runners to the stingray site. The boat was so easy to reenter after snorkeling or lunch, which by the way was quite tasty eaten while sitting at a table with our feet in the water. Olivia and Romain are great hosts and operators who obviously enjoy their venture. Although we were at the Hilton before the cruise, we stopped at the tender pier for two guests from the Paul Gauguin.

Huahine - Huahine Nautiqe - A land tour to see multiple sites followed by an outrigger canoe ride, drift snorkel, lunch on a motu and return to the dock. Absolutely outstanding land tour, snorkeling and lunch with lots of fun times.

Bora Bora - Day 1 - Pure snorkeling. Outstanding small boat - 6 people - tour with four snorkeling stops with Fabien. Absolutely gorgeous sites.

Day 2 - Maohi Nui ship tour. Good snorkeling with three stops and 10 people. Since our departure was changed from 1700 to 1200 it was nice to be on a ship sponsored excursion as we caught the last tender to the ship.

Rangiroa - Gauguin Pearl Farm ship's tour. Nice tour of a pearl farm on a Sunday when most other businesses were closed. Excellent explanation of pearl farming with nice selection to buy afterwards. No pressure to purchase.

Fakarava - Walked around town parallel to the coast originally planning to snorkel off the local beach, but there were numerous sharks and we weren't sure they were the friendly types used to tourists that we swam with before. We also learned of a large tidal pool with lots of interesting critters that was accessible if you walked perpendicular to the coast for about two blocks from the tender landing (the island isn't very wide). Friends raved about Ato's tour - next time.

Bora Bora - Day 3 (returned due to weather). Island tour with Le Truck ship's tour. Since both earlier days in BB had been devoted to snorkeling (and it being out of the question due to weather), this was an excellent three hour tour with multiple stops including Mama Edna's and Bloody Mary's.

Moorea - Since we had spent three days before the cruise on Moorea, we were not disappointed in spending the scheduled first day in Bora Bora. On the second day we visited the shops on the pier, packed and relaxed before the trip home.

Tahiti – Had a great tour with Tracey (Unique Tahiti Tours) exploring the west coast of the island and part of Tahiti Iti in her spacious Mercedes van. Not only did we tour, but her commentary provided a lot of info about the island and FP in general.

Overnight at the Intercontinental. Not to the same standard as the Moorea Hilton, but nice for a night. We were glad we had pre-booked with the concierge a taxi for our early morning (Air France) departure as there we none in the taxi queue.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 702
Great Cabin. Could watch the tenders come and go below us. You could tell when the anchor was dropped, but it was not loud or disturbing.
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