Background:My husband and I traveled from the East Coast to Papeete via Delta and Air France. First visit to French Polynesia and first time on Paul Gauguin (PG). Have cruised many times on other cruise lines.
Hotel Information: We arrived in Papeete early a.m., and had a private transfer from the airport to the pier to take the ferry to Moorea for our independently booked three night stay at the Intercontinental (IC) Hotel Moorea in overwater bungalow. Easy and quick transfer to Moorea and IC Hotel. Very pleasant stay--all meals were very good and beautiful, peaceful location.
Ship Information: Efficient embarkation--there is no cruise "terminal"...passengers form a line to have passport checked and board ship. After passport check, the boarding process moves quickly--it may have taken 15 minutes from start to finish to be escorted to our cabin. The cabin was clean but showing signs of age, rust around window, large stains on carpet/dust ruffle and broken tub hardware. There was plenty of storage and closet space. The air conditioner worked very well. Leaving Bora Bora, the ship was "bouncy", we did not have bad weather or rough seas, however, there was a lot of ship movement.
Mechanical/Technical Issues: One evening the ship experienced significant vibration especially in the back of the ship in the main dining room. The Captain announced the next morning we would be delayed arriving at Rangiroa due to a "technical problem". On another day, there was a water problem causing flooding on deck five in the main dining room and loss of hot water--the hot water was restored and the dining room opened after a slight delay.
The food in the main dining room, L'Etoile, was very good and the wait staff, excellent. We dined in the specialty restaurants, however, our dining experience was much better in L'Etoile. Breakfast was the same buffet offering every day, however, there is a limited menu that does not change during the cruise that passengers may order from.
Entertainment/Activities/Guest Speakers: The entertainment was satisfactory..but not especially good. The most interesting speaker on our cruise was the former Captain of the Queen Mary 2.
Service: This is where the PG excels and earns a 5 star rating--the staff are wonderful!
Ports and Shore Excursions: The Society Islands and Tuamotus are beautiful and Taha'a was especially pretty. We booked several shore excursions with PG, however, our favorite "excursion" was was our independent hike up Magic Mountain in Moorea that they crew told us about.
We did not use the ship wifi--we used Tahiti wi-fi, which worked well in port except for Rangiroa and Fakarava.
Disembarkation: Disembarked around 10 a.m. and traveled to IC-Papeete. Pretty property, however, check in took a long, long time.
I'm thankful we had the opportunity to visit this beautiful part of the world, however, once was enough. I would not go again.