We arrived two days prior to departure to allow our bodies to acclimate to the time change. We chose May as this is the start of the winter season, which means less rain and kids still in school. Time difference was only 3 hours, but if traveling from east coast would highly recommend doing this. We arrived late, 10:10 pm. We arranged through Paul Gauguin to stay 2 nights at the Intercontinental Resort. Transportation was provided to the resort and then to cruise ship terminal. Pape’ete was 5 mi from resort, Too difficult to walk. We spent our first morning in town, then afternoon at the pool. The resort had a nice restaurant and bars, so really no need to leave.
Boarding the ship was easy. Can’t get onboard until after 3pm so no need to arrive early. Once onboard the food and drink experience begins!
We stayed in a balcony room 622 - port side. Having a balcony came in handy to dry out all our wet things from rain and water excursions. If we didn’t have a balcony we would have taken advantage of unlimited laundry service they offered, I think for only $200. Our room was centrally located, close to everything - using the stairs as only 2 elevators. Room was adequate size. Lots of storage. Have plenty of both 220 & 110 plugs available, no need to bring converter. The shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel seemed cheap or diluted. No lather noticed when used. Other cruisers who had rooms on the 6th floor more forward, above the Le Salon, said they heard the evening shows from their room each night. They said it was very loud. Our cabin stewardess Clara, was wonderful. Very helpful!
Day 2 in Variao-Tahiti Iti. Paul Gauguin is the only Cruise ship to come here. Not much to offer for excursions. We did Boat to Teahupoo surf site, exciting to see surfers in action with great photos, then we went to a snorkeling site. Few fish, not great, but fun to be in the water.
Day 3 -Huahine -We took a Safari tour in am. It was very humid, so going early was good. We toured Huahine Nui. Roads all paved and in good shape. Went to Pearl/Pottery farm by boat, vanilla farm, sacred sites and few other good photo op spots including a Belvédère. Guide Josefina was very informative. We used bug spray for all land excursions and didn’t get any bites.
Day 4- Paul Gauguin Motu.
We didn’t do an excursion this day as all was provided. Take first or second tender over to claim a spot & lounge chair. We snorkeled here, saw more than in Vairao. You could kayak as well. The BBQ was excellent and again unlimited drinks. Many local people selling their wares including pearls. I thought they were a little pricey.
Day 5 - Bora Bora
We took the Safari Jeep Tour 4x4 in the morning. It rained all morning, jeep trail was rough going up mountain. We Toured around the island, visiting World War 2 Artillery sites, a plantation with a view while watching an artist painting a pareo.
In the afternoon we walked around the small town. Went to Tahitian Pearl Market and bought a pendant and earrings. (FYI: We attended the Pearl Lecture offered on the ship which was very informative. We have a whole new appreciation for pearls) I picked my own pearls to be mounted. They give you a certificate of authenticity and duty free price. This was fun and fair priced compared to others we saw.
Day 6 - Bora Bora
Went scuba diving twice. First site Tapu was lovely. Lots of coral, fish and a few reef sharks. Second dive was Anau- it was awful! Low visibility and saw nothing! A Rare fish and little coral. That afternoon we hired a local as wanted to see more sharks and rays. (M/S PG excursions book up fast for this and rightfully so) Got to see lots of reef sharks and manta rays.
It rained on and off all day. Make sure you have a waterproof bag to protect your phone and camera.
Day 7 - Moorea
Beautiful island. Went scuba diving in the morning to “The Ledges”. This was our best dive. Got to see turtles, reef sharks, lots of fish and coral.
In the afternoon took the slow paced E-bike tour. We rode over 20 miles! Thank goodness for the electric support which made it much easier. Went to top of a Belvédère for great photos, Stopped at agricultural school for treats, as well as a pineapple farm. Thought I would be sore the next day but pleased I was not!
That night we set sail for Pape’ete and arrived back in port early that evening.
Lots of activities to do on ship. We didn’t partake during the day as always off the ship enjoying island sites.
Every morning we went up to deck 8 at La Pallette to view our new port. Phillip would make us a yummy juiced beverage and a cappuccino to start our day.
We always came back to ship at lunch. Each day in La Verranda they had a themed lunch (Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc)
Each afternoon as the ship set sail the Santa Rosa Band played around the pool. It was great to sing along and have a refreshing beverage. They were awesome!
We loved to go to the piano bar to meet up with new found friends and have a pre dinner drink/appetizer. Anthony always was prepared for us! We played different trivia games, which were hard, but thankful for my husband/friends, we won 3 out of 4 nights! (We shared our prizes with second place teams as we only needed one pen and magnet).
We only saw 2 of the shows at night. A tribute to the Beatles by the Santa Rosa Band was great and the Variety Show (not so good). They started each night at 9:30 - difficult for us to stay awake. We heard the crew show was great!
The restaurants were all different-
L’Etoile - main restaurant, menu changes daily. Always something good to choose from. No reservations needed.
La Verranda- came here for breakfast and lunch on most days. Lovely view! Have same menu for dinner which was Okay but not favorite. Must make a dinner reservation.
Le Grill - must make a reservation here for dinner also. Same menu nightly. It was outdoors, no a/c, so warm for lunch.
Departure- we didn’t fly out until midnight so had a day room arranged by Paul Gauguin to go to La Ora Resort in Pape’ete. In the morning, we got to stay onboard the shop and enjoy all amenities including lunch. We departed at noon, went by bus on a 2 hour tour of town, then to the resort. Again, it was cloudy and rainy, but lovely grounds to walk about. Rooms were comfortable. Pool side restaurant served dinner and had local band. We were able to relax, shower, then taken back to airport.
If you have access to internet would check in for your flight home. Even though we had assigned seating, the check in process would have been much faster if we had pre- checked before arriving at airport, allowing us to go through much shorter line.
Air Tahiti Nui service was great! We were served 2 meals each way. All beverages were free including alcohol. Offered over 40 movies and many video games to choose from. Made for a “quick” 8 hour flight to LAX.
We chose the 240 hr internet package on board the ship. Make sure you logout fully as directed. Many passengers didn’t and lost all their hours overnight! We quickly checked our emails once a day. At end of cruise we still had over 100 hours to use!
All and all, our experience with Paul Gauguin was wonderful, a trip that will never be forgotten! Hope this post was informative and helpful. Happy cruising!!