Best way to see French Polynesia and the Tuamotus: Paul Gauguin Cruise Review by travelthroughmyeyes

Paul Gauguin 5
Member Since 2011

Overall Member Rating

Best way to see French Polynesia and the Tuamotus

Sail Date: March 2011
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: Tahiti (Papeete)
Hello i am 45 and my husband is 46 i consider my self well traveled and hope to help you in your choice of cruising with the Paul Gauguin. We had been wanting to go the French Polynesia for about 20 years now but could never seem to be able to afford it they way we wanted to go which was over water bungalows and have to fly to different Islands every few days which all of this after i calculated the expense it was undo able for us. So i started searching around and found the Paul Gauguin then there was some hope, we really like the fact that once you pay for your vacation it was all included especially your alcoholic beverages! That was a plus, even though we are not heavy drinkers it is nice to not have a huge bar tab once your lovely trip has ended from the beautiful 16.00 tropical looking drinks.

We booked are cruise through are Platinum American Express so that we could get the most bang for our buck, American Express offered us an additional 500.00 for the cabin plus the More cruise gave us 300.00 so we had a total of 800.00 on board credit that we applied all of our excursion.

Once you get there you will not need much cash it is better to put any expense like a rental car,food, and souvenirs on a credit card so that you get a much better exchange, most vendors do take American Dollars but the exchange is terrible, use credit.The truth is once you pay for your trip you will not need much at all unless you are a big shopper and like to bring lots back home.

If you are a honeymooner take into consideration that this ship age average is over 50's the nightlife on the ship is quite even though they have an amazing band on board it is relatively quite. There is a show every evening that was very nice but they are more folkloric not like the show you are used to seeing in Carnival or Royal Caribbean lines more native to the area with real Tahitian dancers and music from the local Islands.We are in our 40's and the age group did not bother us at all actually it was quite nice we were there to enjoy the ship and the area with out crowds and noise in a classy environment and that is what we found plus there were a few other couples that were in our age group to. The dinning is open you can go from 7pm until 9:30 and you have the option to sit alone or with your new friends you may make on the ship, they were very accommodating.

This ship is low key, no huge buffets everywhere , nothing is ever crowded, getting on and off the ship is very easy,the excursion and all of the tender services were very well organized and no waiting which was a huge plus. Try to plan your excursion on the website for Paul Gauguin on your reservation number for the one you absolutely would like to do but wait to do the remainder on the ship on the day you board and after remember the ship has a small amount of people on it so they will not book up as fast as other cruises you may have been on.

If you are considering going next year wait until after the ship has been remodeled which will be in January of next year, just give Paul Gauguin a call for exact dates, but if you are going now it is still very beautiful though i do feel it is time for a face lift. It is a little outdated and the carpets need work. But still very nice and well maintained.

Also we heard lots of talk on how so many people were scared about some of the excursions, the descriptions made them seem scary and you had to be highly experienced, as i said before the age group is above 50's and 60's so they have to be careful and cautious, we did all the things that looked the scariest and it was great nothing to be scared of if you can swim, do it all they were amazing!

Enjoy yoru trip and if you would like to read more go to my blog at Less

Published 04/07/11
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: D614

Our room was nice we had a Cat D Balcony room 614 the best part was that this side of the ship seemed to always have the best view of all of our ports. I do suggest to upgrade to a balcony, we would not have been happy arriving to those beautiful ports and looking through a window. It was so nice to just sit outside on our own during the port arrivals. We felt like it was our own private ship and we actually ate breakfast in our room every day it was so pleasant. To the ladies there is only 2 electrical switches for your tools like blow dryers, hair iron , steamers etc.. one at the desk and the other is by the TV on the left side of refrigerator cabinet.

Port and Shore Excursions

Our first day we chose to do Bora Bora on our own, we took the tender to the dock and went straight to the Avis counter and rented a car and drove around the Island, it is very small and you can go all around the Island in less that an hour. Don't miss a stop at Bloody Mary's it is a great place to get a snack and the much needed cocktail!If yo have your own snorkel gear stop at the public beach that is close to Bloody Mary's for a dip, there is nice coral and plenty fish.

The next day we did the Rays and snorkeling by Jet boat, it seems like you are going to go very fast but in fact it was not a race boat it was very pleasant and we stopped to feed the stingrays but the best part was the snorkeling we did in the aquarium and they call it that because it is like swimming in a pool!! Tons and tons of FISH!! Just beautiful.

One thing we did not do that i really wish i had done was a Motu Picnic, if you want to do this Bora Bora is the place to do it and the best is Patrick's Motu Picnic you can look him up online.

Wow looked out the balcony this morning when we arrived Huahine around 8:00 am and immediately saw a pod of dolphin, the water were calm and the island was just sitting there looking at us and asking us to come over to visit. We had an early 8:15 Safari Expedition tour around the Island with 4 other people. Decided to do the Cultural thing this day since we will have plenty of water activity to come. The Blue eyed Eeels were the highlight of our tour when they all came out in a shallow river out of the holes in the wall and my husband jumped in to feed them.

This island was very different than Papeete, Huahine was very very clean and quaint it had excellent roads and beautiful scenery.I do suggest taking one of the land tours for this Island just to get you into the culture, the reaming day of the cruise like Fakavara and Rangiroa are the times to never skip the water excursions.

Huahine had a small town right where the tender takes you that you can go for a walk and take a look around, but going with the ships excursions is the way to go they have thoroughly planned these excursions and by no means are they cheesy, even though my husband and i hesitated at first since we were one of the youngest couples on the ship we thought the excursions were going to be at a turtles pace but in fact they were great. So if i had to choose another excursion i would do the Island tour by Wave runner we heard lots of good things about that to. Especially since this day is a short day on the Island excursions from the ship are the best way to explore.

Read 36 Huahine Reviews

Immediately struck by it's natural beauty, jagged peaks, lush greenery and encircled by the deep blue of the ocean and sky that would be Moorea the true Bali Hai pronounced Moe-oh-ray-ah. The coast drive around the whole Island is only 37 miles so it a great island to explore in 2 days. Off to the tender we go and it is around 9:30 am we were ready to explore and see what the day had to bring to us. We were warmly welcomed at the dock when we arrived by conch blowers and beautiful local dancers they immediately placed flowers on my head and welcomed us for photos, French Polynesia has had a very warm and welcoming feeling at every Island we have been to the culture here is still very strong i would say even stronger that the Hawaiian Islands. So off we walked to find a rental car and under a tree we came across the Avis rental car agent, she had quite the nice office under her tree and a small table top, she smiled and had us sign a few lines on a typical contract and said Bonjour here are your keys and have a great day. Moorea is a great place to just go explore and drive around on your own with a car, scooter or dunebuggy most are availbel when you arrive on the tender but if you want a buggy make sure you call ahead to avis so that it is waiting for you at the tender port, they are popular! Our second day in Moorea we did the ATV guided tour. We were transported to the Hilton to meet our guide and got a crash course on how to run the ATV and off we went into the rugged interior of the mountain. We drove off road though beautiful farm lands that grew many fruits and lots and lots of pineapples the aroma in the air was delicious. As we moved along we stopped at the Agricultural School for a decadent tasting of freshly made jams, yummy they were so good i purchased a few. The Agricultural School is also a Scientific center for Berkley University because Moorea is a complete socio-ecosystem, including coupled marine and terrestrial habitats, that has emerged as a key site for collaborative international research and advanced training for students. Then we continued up to the most beautiful views of the Island the Belvedere Lookout Point were you can see both bays, Cook Bay and Opunohu bay and Mt Rotui. These areas were very popular for film makers for movies like South Pacific and Mutiny On the Bounty. This was a photographers paradise day everywhere i turned i need to take a photo , it was just beautiful.
Read 110 Moorea Reviews

3 words WOW WOW WOW i loved the Amazing Rangiroa!!! I use amazing because it was an amazing over the top day. All of you may be familiar with most of the common Polynesian Islands like Bora Bora and Moorea but what an underwater gem there is in Rangiroa!! I have read so much about this place before I got here and it was one of my spots I really wanted to visit, I felt like a pioneer coming here because this area is not really visited much by people unless you are a hard core diver , there is only 1 hotel and it is closed. Rangiroa is actually a series of islands around a lagoon making it the largest atoll in French Polynesia and the second largest in the world. Rangiroa means “extended sky” some 240 motu sit on this reef.

We started the day with a walk around the island of Tiputa It was just 1 big circle, saw plenty of doggies and lots of beautiful plants and interesting church and grave yard, we walked over to the pass where the ship came in from between the 2 Islands and saw tons of parrot fish eating coral and dolphins frolicking in the waves and Mike and I thought wow I hope this is not the pass we are doing our drift snorkel in because the current was cranking and had very large waves at the entrance and it was very deep and scary looking, this pass is called the Tiputa channel and allows constant exchange of water between the open sea and the lagoon so god knows what that hell is in there ,but later we were to find out that indeed that was the pass we were going to drift through, I had a long thought about this and almost cancelled, but my husband and I had a pow wow and we both decided to do it. The ship had very few excursions for this island unless you were an advanced diver but they did have something for one seeking some adrenaline and it is called shooting the pass, and as I said above it was the Tiputa channel, I can talk about this experience for hours it was the most amazing thing I have ever done!!!!!!!! We went by a small boat with apporx 8 brave people with us and they the took us to the entrance of the channel which is the barrier reef and where the Pacific ocean meets Rangiroa inside lagoon.Ok if any of you watched the movie Nemo it was the part that the turtles rode the pacific stream to travel and they flew through the water through the pacific ocean, that is what it felt like when we jumped in the water and we had to let the very fast moving current that just carried us through the pass, it was the ultimate rush, it was like getting caught in an under tow but we knew there would be some on the other side to pick us up! They took us when the tide and current switched from Pacific going into the lagoon so that we would not get pushed out to sea in the large waves and current and we had to wait until 1:30 pm to do I. When we first got in we were all so freaked out that we missed the first part which was amazing coral and fish, it was the quickest 1/2 mile I have ever done in the water, the best part was that when the first ride was over we were all bumming out because we thought it was so fast and it was over but our guide said oh no no no we get to do it 2 more times!!! It was off the hook the second time was even better and more beautiful and we knew what to expect I cant even begin to explain how much coral and fish we saw we were drifting pass a huge wall of coral, amazing amazing amazing, the third time we went to another part of the channel that did not have as much current and saw smaller fish and a beautiful moray eel. Got back on the boat and all of us had the same look on our face like we just did the coolest thing ever! Do not miss this if you are comfortable in the water, the ship excursion desk make some of these excursions sound scary but please remeber the age group that is on this ship they must take caution. If you have snorkeled before so not miss it is truley amazing!

Lucky for us it continued they took us by boat just a minute away to Motu Nui Nui and it is a natural open water aquarium, the coral here was so healthy it look like broccoli no kidding it was green green green and very large coral heads, the small black tips showed up here and swam around us, saw eels and most of all the most fish I have EVER seen! There were so many I did not think I could swim through them. It was just so beautiful that no words can describe and this is what I came to French Polynesia to see the amazing clear beautiful water and marine life this place has to offer and the beautiful welcoming culture and people that are here. They all have a smile and are so thankful we came to visit!

Maururu ( Thank you) Rangiroa

I do suggest getting to your Embarkation port a least 2 days prior to your departure,it really helped us get acclimated to the time change and ease into the trip. Most flights get in around 11pm or midnight so you only actually have the whole next day to acclimate then the following day you get on the ship and you will be much happier starting you cruise with sleep and well rested before your amazing journey.We chose to start off at the Intercontinental in Papeete, this hotel had beautiful grounds and the rooms were clean and well maintained, restauraunts were good, pool was nice with a gret tiki bar,but i would not say they are 5 star i would give it more of a 4 but the views of Moorea are amazing and thier hotel lobby has the most beautiful view i have ever seen.The most you want to be in Papeete is 2 days not very attractive compared to the rest of the Society Islands.So great place to start the trip but if you are going to stay a few days extra after the cruise do not do the overwater bungalows here i would choose Le Taha'a in Taha'a or the Thallasso in Bora Bora overwater bungalows now these are 5 star!!!!

Back to Papeete The first words that come in my mind is Bon Voyage, we have gone full circle all around the beautiful islands of French Polynesia and the Tuamotus Islands and unfortunately it is are last day in this paradise. Today we leisurely woke up and went in to the downtown of Papeete for a stroll before our last lunch on the ship. Shortly after our lunch we were transported to our day hotel the Radisson to spend the remainder of the day there before our flight at 11:59 pm this is one of the great perks of traveling with the Paul Gauguin cruise the leave no details out, we had this beautiful room on a black sand beach for us until the evening and it is included with the price of the cruise. Once we checked in we headed straight out to the pool to squeeze out as much more fun as we can have until we had to depart. You have until 8pm at the hotel so no worries you can just relax this day until your flight. Be prepared that when they shuttle you back to the airport there will be several flight going out and there will be huge lines for the check in, get a cart and sit back for the wait, they get you there early but as soon as the counter opens it moves right along. If you are wanting an upgrade for your flight , walk up to one of the hostesses that will be there for your flight and let them know you would like to check on upgrades they are very helpful and will guide you to what you need to do t get it.

Compare Prices on Paul Gauguin South Pacific Cruises

Read more Paul Gauguin cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic’s Paul Gauguin Review >>

Compare Prices on Paul Gauguin South Pacific Cruises

Member Since 2011
Enrichment Activities
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Onboard Experience
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
Value for Money
Skip X

See Paul Gauguin deals up to 82% off:

October Deals
Paul Gauguin 82% Loved It

7 Night South Pacific Cruise
See all Paul Gauguin Deals >>