Who are we?: We took a much deserved family trip on board the Paul Gauguin. Our group consisted of me, my husband, my sister (all mid-30s) my mother (mid-50's) and our 15 year old daughter.
What sold us on this trip?: We are warm weather people that live in a cold weather area. We have been to Hawaii many times, and it's become so incredibly touristy and expensive, we weren't wanting to go back. The Bahamas and Caribbean did not sound inviting. When we discovered that Tahiti is just a couple hours past Hawaii on the flight, we were sold. There is a 7 night cruise that would work nicely with our busy schedules, but we opted for a little longer cruise at 11 nights, as we haven't had a vacation in a while and really wanted to relish the time with our family and seriously unwind.
When looking at hotels, the pricing was very expensive and much like Hawaii, everything you buy such as food and drinks is astronomical. But we were determined to find the best deal. When we found the Paul Gauguin and saw that everything is included (with the exception of optional tours and spa) When I saw that the fare included airfare from LAX I was floored. Pricing it out myself was a great anxiety and this made the price point much more attractive. Plus, I have never seen a cruise line that included alcohol and other beverages. It's not fun when you get to the end of your cruise, that you paid a minimal amount for and you have a ridiculous bill for your childs soda. That always makes me leave my vacation feeling icky. So the Paul Gauguin came out a clear winner. When I saw they had a kids program sponsored by the Cousteau family, that was an added bonus!
A Category Veranda Suite: Our cabin was great! Walking in, directly to the right is the large bathroom with full tub and shower, stocked with L'Occitane toiletries. There was plenty of cabinet space that I could unpack my goodies and not have to worry about living out of my suitcase. The closets were huge, more then enough room for everything. We also received cotton slippers and bathrobes which was nice. We had a king bed and flat screen TV with movies and all the days activities on a loop. Well stocked fridge and mini bar. This suite comes with butler who is amazing. We received all of our room service delivered by him (Richard) and afternoon appetizers at 5pm everyday, as well as fresh ice in our mini bar twice a day. There were other services he offered that we didn't take him up on, like unpacking us or booking our shore excursions, we can do all that ourselves. Veranda was spacious, we had morning coffee out there every day.
We spent our first night at the InterContinental Tahiti. I had read not to arrive at the ship before 3pm on departure day, so we had a late check out and had the whole next day to explore. We were planning on going to the market, by the InterContinental has an ambiance and we didn't want to leave. So we didn't. We wondered the grounds and the pools. Ate lunch and had some beers. The bill just for lunch was about $50 per person, and that was just a sandwich and 2 beers. I couldn't wait to get on the ship where I wouldn't have to pay for a beer! I knew I made the best decision on the value of what I was paying for on the Gauguin.
Since this was a Sunday everything on the Island was closed. I had my diving class to we just went on for a little exploration. It is a really beautiful place, with the most amazing coral reef! Actually it was nice not to be thrown into anything super heavy on the first full day. But I would have liked to see some shops and what not.
Rarotonga is pretty great, you can walk for miles and miles. We went to the local market and picked up some fresh cut coconuts for drinking the milk. We walked around and shopped and just generally took it easy while we enjoyed the town. This island is allot more populated then Aitutaki and had a little more of a metropolitan feel, with the lush mountain backdrop.
When we pulled into Bora Bora at Sunrise it was just like the postcard! A very lazy vibe first thing in the AM. We tendered over and found out there was a festival so the streets were packed with locals. We went to local shops and watched the dance competition at night. The tour we took here was a local Le Truck tour. We had a very informative local guide and navigated the whole island. Stopping at the very cool and famous Bloody Mary's, where we fittingly drank bloody marys. We also visited the private beach, which was nice and relaxing.
I thought Bora Bora was gorgeous, and let me tell you it's nothing compared to Moorea. This was hands down the most beautiful island. With jagged peaks all around, and lush green mountains it was so lovely. We hiked up to the top of the mountain with on board archaeologist Michael Poole. and we visited some ancient sites and saw much of the forest. We stopped at a tattoo artist well known on the island to get commemorative Polynesian tattoos, which he designed right there with a few ideas of what we wanted. They are gorgeous and a proud reminder of our time in Polynesia.