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318 Paul Gauguin Cruises Cruise Reviews

So, this cruise was highly recommended by our travel agent and so we listened and booked it. So right from the get-go after final payment we received the airline reservations for a flight out of LAX that would not arrive until 10:30PM in ... Read More
So, this cruise was highly recommended by our travel agent and so we listened and booked it. So right from the get-go after final payment we received the airline reservations for a flight out of LAX that would not arrive until 10:30PM in Papeete and then they would transfer you to the ship. I am saying why? So, we'll board at Midnight? Yes. Well there goes your boarding experience and no dinner for that evening. Meeting at the airport and transfers to the ship were great, waiting and standing in the rain to board not so much fun. Day 1 of cruise gone! Cabin was great, luggage was already there waiting. The ship is quite old, but clean. I have no real complaints about the ship. Dining experiences were awesome all credit goes to the staff. The menus at the 2 restaurants that you must make reservations for have the same menu every night (bad idea). Earliest you can eat dinner is 6:30PM Food was very good though. All entertainment starts at 9:30PM and that just does not work for us, we did manage to stay up for the Beatles from the Philippines but ended up leaving early, they tried, but sorry out of sync and out of tune. It was the only show we went to. Other activities were going on throughout the days and evenings and the ones we did go to were good. But it should be mentioned that a lot of these activities start at 6:30PM so we did not get to meet the Captain as we had dinner reservations, we did not get to make a Tahitian flower crown for the wife as we had dinner reservations. The fitness center is very small and very crowded and most time we had to wait for a machine to workout. The Public rooms, Bars we awesome and we had a good time. Service throughout the ship was excellent as well as the staff, enough cannot be said about the wonderful staff. The shore excursions we took were average and nothing to get excited about. So let's talk about the Islands...first one we go to is Huahine and I have to say why? Why the heck do they go there? Tender from the ship to the opposite side of the Island and take the shuttle to town 30 minutes away and two stores were open, gezzz what a waste of time. Second one is their private Island Taha'a and it was great and had a good time there until it rained, and everyone scrambles to get back to the ship via tender. Third stop Bora Bora for two days. Toured the Island and went shopping, second day went on the glass bottom boat, it was OK but overcrowded. Next stop Moorea for two days, day one it rained the whole time of our tour around the town and the shops we went to, OK but missed all photo opportunities due to the clouds. Second day we went shopping until it started raining again and again a battle for the tender back. I believe Moorea would have been by far the best Island, but rain prevented most of the great experiences. So finally, back to Papeete and we get there at 7:00PM and receive our Dis-Embarkation instructions, I thought embarkation was bad this was really bad. Must be out of cabin by 9:00AM and can't leave the ship until 12:30PM Breakfast does not start till 9:00AM so 3 hours of sitting or waiting, what to do? They do allow you to walk into town, which we did and went shopping and were back by 11:00AM just in time for lunch. Then we wait till 12:30PM to get off and found out the bus was going to take us on a 2.5-hour tour "to waste time" as the guide said because the Hotel they were taking us to was not ready for us. The tour was OK, and the Hotel was very nice but all you get is a room for 4 hours to kill before you have to check out and wait in the lobby for another 1.5 hours before the bus takes you to the airport for your Midnight flight back home. After loading the bus and luggage in a van we get to the airport at 9:15PM and wait another 2.5 hours before boarding. The flight back to LAX is 8 hours and I can’t sleep on a plane, never could sleep in an upright position. So, from 6:00AM in Tahiti to 1:00PM home 33 hours later is not how I would have planned it. We did get about 2-3 hours sleep in the Hotel in Tahiti and wife slept on the plane home. My advice, don’t book your travel plans through Paul Gauguin, book your own flight and get your own Hotel if you need one and get there 1 day before because the earliest flights all seem to get there after 6:30PM and boarding starts at 3:00PM. Also, the earliest flight home starts at 8:40PM so again I would get a Hotel going home (even though you may not spend the night), some place to go and relax before going to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Let me start with the most positive and that is the staff especially waiting, bar and housekeeping. They are truly amazing and the best I have found on a cruise ship. I'm not gonna bother going into detail about every nook and ... Read More
Let me start with the most positive and that is the staff especially waiting, bar and housekeeping. They are truly amazing and the best I have found on a cruise ship. I'm not gonna bother going into detail about every nook and cranny on the ship, many other people have written reviews about the number of coat hooks on the back of the door et cetera. Let's start with the ship! It's old and dated and poorly maintained. Even whilst waiting to board I was surprised at the amount of rust which has been painted over, on embarkation walking up the first flight of stairs there are dents in the wall, I was hoping that this would not be a sign of things to come as it is a lower deck but unfortunately the whole ship is showing far too many signs of wear and tear for cruise line who have such a glowing reputation. The swimming pool on deck eight is reminiscent of one found on old liners such as the Titanic! Huge great big varnished wooden sides protruding above the deck, the varnish is blistered and pealing, and you have to be careful not to snag your swimming costume or indeed get a splinter from the varnish. In general the furniture in communal areas are well past their use by dates, especially in the La Palette where the seating is stained and ripped. On the outside areas if you like rust and dripping paint you will love this ship! The cabins are a great size and in good condition but hideously dated, all brown gloss varnished wood, the wall units were obviously built for old-fashioned tube style TVs with a great big plinth protruding, obviously this is not needed anymore for the small flat screen mounted at the back, it just gives some sort of indication as to the date! If you're expecting a modern glitzy state-of-the-art cruise ship you will be sorely disappointed. The overall cruise experience unfortunately did not live up to the billing! I think the itinerary is poor, granted I could and should have done far more research on the itinerary but I assumed it would be paradise. In fact cruising at sea for two days to arrive at the Marquesas Islands which pretty much all look the same, with very little to do which is not helped by the fact that there are no beaches and no access to the water; once you have done one island you have done them all. Other than the embarkation port of Tahiti every other destination you have to be tendered to the pier on the island, I imagine I have spent probably 12 hours over the two weeks waiting in line for a tender which is as the cruise ship old and antiquated, you get covered in exhaust fumes and we seem to wait an inordinate amount of time on the tender before it departs. If you wish to get an early tender, be warned that unless you have booked a cruise ship excursion through Paul Gagarin you will not be allowed on the tender as they get first priority. Information given by the travel concierge on the ship I found to be poor, badly informed and contradictory. The talks provided by the travel concierge about the upcoming islands are repetitive and very sales based. I personally find one of the travel concierge to be consistently rude. I was under the impression you are able to do what sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding off the back of the ship, this is true however on our 14 day cruise there were only two days when they offered this! The entertainment on the ship was atrocious, laughably bad but as there is nothing else to do (other than drink the lovely all-inclusive drinks) you find yourself being lulled into it only to ask yourself "what the hell am I doing here". I'm not going to name any specifics as you get to know all the entertainers as it is such a small ship they obviously spend time with you on the ship or on excursions. If you like "it ain't half hot Mum" (an old English sitcom) you might enjoy it! The food on the ship was fine, good at times but nothing to write home about, in fact the best meals we had during the three weeks we were away was in restaurants in Tahiti (definitely worth trying Le soufflé in Papeete) and Bora Bora. Still, we didn't go there for the food! Probably the best day we had was on their own private island of Motu Mahana. We did meet some really nice people and we had some good experiences, it was my girlfriends first experience of a cruise as she has never been keen on the idea, suffices to say she has no intention of ever cruising again! I understand the ship is having some sort of refit in April 2020 in Singapore, apparently it is only for two weeks so how much they will be able to modernise and renew such a small window I do not know! Personally I think they should scrap it! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Wow, what a fantastic experience! My wife and I had been looking forward to seeing the Marquesas islands for the first time. The Gauguin only makes a few trips to these wonderful islands 3 or 4 times per year. There is simply no better ... Read More
Wow, what a fantastic experience! My wife and I had been looking forward to seeing the Marquesas islands for the first time. The Gauguin only makes a few trips to these wonderful islands 3 or 4 times per year. There is simply no better way to visit them. Over the span of a week, we were able to visit 4 unique islands and their authentic local population. Some islands have only 350-850 residents. We met locals who were so proud to show us their islands. Some of the sights were awe inspiring. It's impossible to overstate how much we appreciated the ship's crew and their friendliness. We were onboard only a few days and everyone seemed to know our names. Our cabin was nice, with a balcony. Our stewardess Sharonette kept things tidy and clean every day. The included fully stocked mini bar was always replenished. We had room service breakfast quite a few times, especially nice on the sea days so we could sleep in. The casino had tournaments for roulette and black jack and we had a great time even when I lost. Casino hosts Roderick and Mirella were outstanding. The dining is exceptional, our favorite was the lobster dinner. My wife and I liked it so much John Paul our waiter ordered us another entrée to our surprise and enjoyment. The sommelier Eduardo is top notch and we loved his choices. The trip was an experience my wife and I will always cherish. The ship, it's crew and islands are truly an incredible combination. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Was for our 10th wedding anniversary ,disappointed in the ship and how old it is inside for the 1st since we have cruised we didnt take any pictures of the interior ,the only good thing is that it's going in for major changes just ... Read More
Was for our 10th wedding anniversary ,disappointed in the ship and how old it is inside for the 1st since we have cruised we didnt take any pictures of the interior ,the only good thing is that it's going in for major changes just dont change the crew they are excellent had a great room attendant and server manny in la veranda , love the stops in Bora,Janine,tahaa,moorea fakarava was nothing special unless you dive , the average age was mayb an issue but it's the ships decor that was real bad ,room service was great food was good enough just was expecting more for the money we spent but in the end although the crew were good it didnt justify the money spent free wifi and some excursions would have made it a better deal but it just the look of the interior of the ship which will remain with us just wasnt luxury at all even at the tender arrivals old carpets and nothing luxurious about waiting area other cruise lines do a better job but I'll be honest this is our opinion because people looked happy mayb just wasn't for us . Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
My husband and I were looking forward to this luxury cruise on Paul Gauguin. We have cruised many times in our 36 years of marriage and do not have an alliance with any cruise line. We are most interested in the itinerary. Embarkation ... Read More
My husband and I were looking forward to this luxury cruise on Paul Gauguin. We have cruised many times in our 36 years of marriage and do not have an alliance with any cruise line. We are most interested in the itinerary. Embarkation was poorly done. We were advised to arrive at or after 3PM. We arrived at 2:45pm to a line completely in the sun. Buses were backing up running their exhaust into the guest awaiting to board. No where to sit, no shade. At 3pm we were allowed to entire and check in was quickly done in the grand salon. The ship itself is very plain, nothing pretty and in much need of an update. Although everything was very clean. The pool area is very small and there are no hot tubs. The service was nothing special, the same as I've had on other ships and poor in some areas. At breakfast and lunch especially you are encouraged to go to the buffet. You were discouraged from ordering off the fixed menu. Even felt uncomfortable to ask for a soda with lunch and never asked for a refill. The food was excellent at dinner. Most breakfasts and lunch for average. Meal times were breakfast 7am to 10 am, lunch 12 pm to 2pm, tea 4 to 5pm and dinner 6:30pm to 9pm. If you were on an excursion or wanting to eat at a different time room service was available. Entertainment was weak with a few exceptions. The Guaguines a group of Tahitian young people were very entertaining. Though not professional they did their best to entertain us. Polynesian night a local group was brought on and they were great as well. Sitting at the pool there was no band or music during the day. The ports of call were all wonderful and the reason most must come on this cruise. Although when getting off the ship there isn't anyone handing out maps or answering questions. Would be nice if they handed out water bottles as well. The cruise director and assistant were not around much. Actually didn't even know there was an assistant until she was introduced and sang one night. Only 1 trivia over the 7 nights. The lectures were very good and informative. To sum it up. I was disappointed in the ship itself but loved the ports of call. I would return to this area of the world but on another ship. I have been on true luxury cruises and unfortunately this fell short in many areas. Embarkation time of 3pm when needed to checkout of the hotel at 11am is a real problem. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
My husband & I had saved up for our 25th anniversary to go to Tahiti. It was SO worth the wait! No lines anywhere - and they treat you like royalty. The ship is the perfect size. The staterooms are so comfortable. We got a balcony ... Read More
My husband & I had saved up for our 25th anniversary to go to Tahiti. It was SO worth the wait! No lines anywhere - and they treat you like royalty. The ship is the perfect size. The staterooms are so comfortable. We got a balcony room near the front on Deck 7, and were not disappointed. I enjoyed the entertainment at night when I could stay awake that late(!). The dancers are very good. Mahana took us on a ship tour the first afternoon. She was adorable. We tried all 3 restaurants, but we found that the “Veranda” was a bit too fancy for our tastes. Actually, our favorite foods were at the private motu (Taha’a stop) and our ship excursion to a motu in Moorea. We enjoyed the continental breakfast items in the back of the ship every morning. All the croissants you could dream of! All of the ports were just amazing!! SO many shades of blue in the crystal clear water!! Abundant sea life to explore while snorkeling. We saw the huge manta rays, swam with black tip reef sharks, saw a baby whale breaching, spotted eagle rays in large groups, watched dolphins playing. I was amazed at all the different vibrant colors of the clams (oysters?!) in the water. Bright turquoise, royal blue, green, purple, tan, etc. And if you attend the talk onboard about how they cultivate the “black pearls” that Tahiti is known for, it’s very interesting. We enjoyed the pool on the ship and had it all to ourselves! It was crazy! We hardly ever saw anyone in the nice plush lounge chairs around the pool. Maybe the sun is just too intense there for most of the “older” clientele. So if you want to be pampered on your vacation and skip the crowds of the colossal cruise ships, take a Paul Gauguin Cruise. We would highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We planned this trip a year in advance to celebrate anniversary and birthday and were not disappointed. We travelled with our favorite traveling companions but also met many wonderful and interesting people from around the world. The ... Read More
We planned this trip a year in advance to celebrate anniversary and birthday and were not disappointed. We travelled with our favorite traveling companions but also met many wonderful and interesting people from around the world. The service was outstanding in our opinion, especially our favorite waiter Philip and especially in the Veranda restaurant. Those people who rated the service as less probably had a bad waiter. We enjoyed all the meals especially the themed lunch buffets and special gourmet dinners each night. Seafood was offered every dinner and most lunches. Breakfast buffets were the same menu each morning but were still great and you could order any special you wanted e.g. custom omelettes. Staff throughout the ship was attentive and friendly And free liquor of all types with meals, poolside, piano bar. etc. Snorkeling trips were the highlight of our excursions. The only negative was that even though we had signed up way in advance for many trips, some were cancelled because they were not full or because of equipment problems. So maybe a better way to insure trips went without a full load or screening of outside vendors would be in order. The biggest negative had nothing to do with the ship but the airline which was chosen for the package. Air Tahiti Nui has bragged about brand new 787 planes but they are configured for maximum number of seats and the 8 hour flight was extremely uncomfortable. Could hardly fit in the seats and forget about trying to eat on the trays in your lap. Worst International flight I have ever been on compared to Air France, Lufthansa, United etc Also we requested a deviation on our return flight to spend more time in Tahiti. In doing so we lost our ability to enjoy an afternoon in a day room with a meal and shower. Paul Gaugin should have included this since we paid the same price was those flying back home directly It was a long idle time wait with baggage between 10 AM ship debarkation and 11:50 PM return flight. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Summary: the islands and waters of French Polynesia are beautiful, exotic, and clean. The towns and roads are populated by people who are friendly, charming, inviting, and helpful. And I highly recommend you visit them on a cruise ship ... Read More
Summary: the islands and waters of French Polynesia are beautiful, exotic, and clean. The towns and roads are populated by people who are friendly, charming, inviting, and helpful. And I highly recommend you visit them on a cruise ship (especially if you are a scuba diver)…once alternatives to Paul Gauguin become available. The M/S Paul Gauguin is a tired, clunky ship staffed by crew ranging from competent through lazy to actively obstructionist. I have been on many cruise lines, ranging from economy Norwegian to top-end ultraluxury Sea Dream (more expensive than Paul Gauguin…but just barely), and I can honestly say that I have never been on a cruise where so many times I have been told “no.” For example, when we discovered that the chef aboard the Sea Dream II was Polish, we asked half-jokingly if he would be making pierogies…and that night, freshly made pierogies were waiting for us. That’s service. On the much less expensive (but still luxurious in its own right) Regent Seven Seas Navigator when we asked for a glass of white port only to be told they had none, they had the requested wine FLOWN IN the next day. That's service. I appreciate that Tahiti is much further from other population centers than the Caribbean (Sea Dream, Silverseas), Bermuda (Norwegian), or Alaska (Regent) and this makes certain requests for things they do not have on-hand impractical. But I was never told “no” to any reasonable request and the more upscale lines, and even Norwegian in most cases, bent over backwards to meet every guest request. Not so with Paul Gauguin, whose onboard philosophy is less customer-centric than a cheap airport motel. Every day our experience was sullied by a refusal to do some minor thing that was easily within the staff’s ability. For example: I requested a particular drink at the pool bar that required ice cream. “We don’t have any ice cream,” says the barkeep. “But…” I stammer, confused that a passenger should have to explain basic customer service to a cruise employee, “there’s ice cream at the Le Grille.” I should explain that Le Grille is the group of tables constituting one of the three onboard restaurants when they close the doors at night, during the day it is the more-or-less open eating station for breakfast, and it is (surprise!) on the other side of the pool. And we’re not talking one of those Olympic pools aboard an 8,000 passenger superliner, but a walk of (I counted them) 42 steps. So, I walked those 42 steps, got some ice cream, walked the other 42 steps back, and told the bartender to make my drink. Which he did with an extra dollop of sullenness, although he had no other customers occupying his time. Speaking of ice cream, I became rather fond while aboard the Norwegian Dawn of their strawberry ice cream made on-board and which you could get at the pool any time of day; if they didn’t have any, they’d send for it. (On a similar note, once at the bar on the Silversea they didn't stock the particular alcohol at that one bar, but within minutes they had it sent over.) What was the answer when I asked for some on the Paul Gauguin at the evidently outrageous hour of 2 o’clock in the afternoon? No. Oh and the next day, I tried an experiment and asked for a toasted almond (which requires just milk, no ice cream) at the bar. “No, we don’t have any milk.” What!? I realize that this sounds nitpicky. And perhaps it is. But I cannot stress just how expensive Paul Gauguin is…this is one of the most expensive luxury cruise lines IN THE WORLD. And this attitude of the guests being a burden and an inconvenience extends far beyond just the on-board experience and permeates every aspect of their business. Their vendors, for example, are simply unacceptable and company staff could not care less when informed that their vendors have made the most outrageous mistakes. When we arrived at LAX, a Paul Gauguin staffer met us and briefed us on what to expect upon arrival at Tahiti, and confirmed that our printed boarding paperwork included a hotel (a different hotel than what most guests stay at, but we didn’t know that at the time) and transfer information. Well, when we arrived at Tahiti, we quickly found the transfer vendor but she refused to allow us on the van because we weren’t on her list. We showed her our paperwork: her company, her van, and its destination. No. Can you please call Paul Gauguin, here’s the phone number? No. Can you at least CALL YOUR OWN OFFICE? No. And off the van drove, leaving us in a foreign country and no idea how to proceed. We eventually found a taxi that would provide a receipt, but the hotel turned out to be different than the usual one used by Paul Gauguin: much less nice and, important to us at that moment, not the one with a Paul Gauguin representative. I won’t tell you our woe of contracting food poisoning at that hotel, as I can’t in good faith blame that on Paul Gauguin, but it definitely didn’t add to the quality of the start of the voyage. The next day when we contacted Paul Gauguin at the correct hotel (the infinitely more delightful Intercontinental, which I may write a standalone review of) we were told that once onboard that Concierge would take care of everything. Except that took two hours of waiting and re-explaining to each new person we were passed off to (we never did see the person who Paul Gauguin customer service told us to specifically ask for), with each one humming and hawing about how this isn’t standard practice and they could give us credit for a future cruise and me having to show our receipt and the email from customer service yet again, just to get our $50 back. My goodness, Silversea or Regent would probably have fired their vendor and upgraded us to a suite right then and there. Not quite a “no” but in the same spirit of not caring about passengers: don’t believe the final return time posted for the shore tenders. If it’s within a half hour of the posted time and the crew don’t see passengers walking towards them, they pack up and head back to the ship. Now you might think that’s impossible because they know if all the passengers are back, and on most cruises you’d be right. But Paul Gauguin only has the passenger ID card reader back on the ship, not at the tender tie-up, so they would not have a clue if somebody was missing when they start the engine and abandon the remaining passengers. On a side note, whilst on the Sea Dream II (again, only very slightly more expensive than Paul Gauguin), a couple missed the sailing due to a delayed flight and the captain HELD THE SHIP UP AT THE PORT so the inter-island puddle hopper could get them to the ship. That’s service; but being told that I could not make my own choice from the “complementary” wines is not. Once again, no. Oh but when I asked about this on the Regent, they actually manually typed up a list of all the complementary wines just for me so I could, if I wanted to, decide which wine I wanted for which meal. Again, service. Our amidship cabin was satisfactory; it did have the usual minor creaks in the middle of the night common to older boats (the Regent Navigator, a converted Soviet research vessel, is notorious for this). In moderate seas the ship pitches quite a bit, so bring those seasickness patches* (then again, we were recovering from food poisoning). Curiously the ship doesn’t really roll, it only pitches; so there are certain areas like the Spa near the center of the ship where the movement of the boat isn’t noticeable. At either end of the ship, it becomes very evident: I took a video of the small pool sloshing back and forth like a tub of water being carried down a flight of steps. This becomes a real problem when it comes to the two restaurants located in the stern, and especially L’Etoile, which is not only at the end of the ship and therefore most subject to seesawing in the waves, but is directly over the engine room—and the engine struggles mightily with the waves. *You can get seasickness medicine at the concierge. However, unlike other very small ships that are susceptible to waves even under moderate conditions, all they provide is over-the-counter Dramamine (which makes you drowsy); Sea Dream offers newer drugs that are much more effective assuming you take them in advance. The Seven Seas never left the protected waters of the Alaskan inside passage, Norwegian ships are too big to be affected by moderate seas, and I already had a patch on for the Silverseas; so I don’t know how those cruise lines deal with this. Here’s a hint: if while at sea you sit in La Veranda or especially, no exceptions, L’Etoile, insist on a table along the perimeter of the dining room. They’ll all pitch up and down as the ship passes over the waves, but the tables in the middle of the area shake so badly that you can not only feel it in your bones, but silverware loudly clatters and glasses slowly vibrate their way across the tablecloth. By the way, two comments on the food and beverages: 1. There is only one upscale restaurant, that being L’Etoile, and the food is equivalent to one of the pay-per-person venues on a Norwegian or Princess. Very good, but not extraordinary (hint: adding foamed milk to everything on the menu does not automatically make it le repas extraordinaire). Le Veranda is good; think all-inclusive Caribbean resort. Le Grille, being only a part-time restaurant, breakfast nook, and eclectic and therefore confusing lunchtime “tea” corner, was very hit-and-miss. Nothing aboard compares to the very best (or for Seven Seas, ordinary) food of their competitors. Oh, and Le Veranda and Le Grille share menus to a large extent. I do appreciate that this ship is based literally thousands of miles from any major landmass and it must be a logistical juggling act to obtain provisions to provide several hundred good-to-excellent meals each day. But do not let that fool you into thinking you will dine on par with Maxine’s—or a Windstar clipper, for that matter. 2. Wine is TERRIBLE. I did not see a single bottle of complementary wine that I could not buy at home for under ten dollars, and in many cases it was a no-name that a quick Internet check showed retail prices of less then six dollars. This is part of a non-stop campaign to get you to upgrade to “premium” (meaning, drinkable) wines. This is a scheme that might belong on a bargain resort in the Dominican Republic (and I’d resent it there, too) but not aboard a luxury cruise ship. This simply inexcusable; on all of my cruises there have always been premium wines available at additional cost (Regent and Sea Dream included all but the very most expensive of spirits, so paying for an “upgrade” would mean a $300 twenty-year old single malt), but never before has a cruise deliberately given passengers wines that they know are simply awful to blatantly force them to pony up. Even on Norwegian, having gotten an upgrade that included the beverage package, had decent wines in the $12 to $25 category. During a voyage that cost A TENTH of the price. My advice: stick with the rosé, it’s hard to screw that up too badly. Or just sail with somebody else—more on that in a moment. Speaking of upgrades: if you possibly can (i.e. you have enough shipboard credits to cover it), get the unlimited Internet plan. Not that it will go any faster—it won’t—but they use a system in which you must actively log out when finished (it’s actually called “logout.com”; Silversea uses this same dysfunctional system). Now, that already means that whoever is using whichever device must actively remember to log out. But there’s a much darker side to this: wireless on board the Paul Gauguin is both spotty and sporadic, and if your signal vanishes—and it does, regularly—you CANNOT LOG OFF. So your minutes keep ticking by, possibly without you even knowing (we used up our entire allotment overnight, when I logged out but did not wait for the confirmatory message “You are logged out”). Also, if you have two browser windows open and you log out of one, the other might still be clocking usage even if you do get the confirmation. If you can, just get the unlimited plan so you don’t have to worry about it. Or, just sail with somebody else—more on that, as I said, in a moment. The Paul Gauguin has a decent little gym but lacks a jogging track or, to put it more generally, any sort of promenade deck (i.e. a deck that goes all the way around the ship). I have never been on any ship where it is impossible to go around the vessel, although on one I did have to climb up and down ladders (stairs). This confused me at first because there is certainly nothing to prevent it in the ship’s design, and then I realized that it is because there WAS a promenade deck, and then they installed rather clumsy-looking partitions to keep people from reaching the stern on that deck, which now constitutes the “balcony” of the suites. Instead, you could walk around the “solar” (sun) deck, which goes around the top-most bar just above the pool (it’s on top of the bar that refused to serve ice cream). Except, it’s exactly 1/20th of a mile around** (so you have to make a 90 degree turn every 20 yards) and more to the point, you can’t anyway, because that bar is ALWAYS closed; and since it’s closed, hey there’s no reason for passengers to go up there (i.e. the only place on the ship where you can actually WALK AROUND) so they keep the stairs roped off constantly. Just to stick the knife in a little deeper, they’ll post a sign on the rope announcing the hours that the deck will be open…but the rope stays there all day and night, day after day. I asked a crewmember if we could go up, since it was the time the sign said the rope would be removed. No. I asked, why? The crewmember shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Oh, and the one time we did get to go up, during the night, all the light are turned on, so there is not one place to view the night sky aboard. That was the single biggest disappointment of all, we were so looking forward to the prospect of seeing unfamiliar southern hemisphere constellations under the famous South Pacific crystal clear skies, and all we had were electric lights blazing. We couldn’t even skyview from shore, as the tenders always return before night (the was one exception, in Bora Bora, but we only had a small area of sky to view, alongside one of the busier streets in French Polynesia…and again, you do NOT want to wait until the posted final tender departure time). **By way of comparison: the Norwegian Dawn (considered a small ship by modern standards) has a promenade deck that is a quarter of a mile around, and on the Harmony of the Sea (pretty much the opposite of the Paul Gauguin or any of its brethren!) it only takes 2.7 laps to burn up a mile. Yes, the Paul Gauguin is a small ship…but TWENTY YARDS? Not that it matters, since they won’t let you up there anyway. Very nice little spa connected to the gym. The stern recreation launch is, for most people, more of a gimmick than useful, as there are no motorized sports (Sea Dream has waverunners) and although in theory they stock sailboards, paddle boards, etc., as a practical matter they never allot time—and certainly never advertise time—to use them, because that time is devoted to pay-per-use SCUBA training. If you are certifying in SCUBA at additional cost, then it may be genuinely useful…if, of course, you can live with the guilt that the additional costs you are paying is resulting in the other passengers not being able to utilize the supposedly free swimming equipment they were promised. (“No swimming from the stern platform!” says the sign. Again, another NO! I asked why and was told it was for my safety. “But if I pay for SCUBA, I can swim. Why is it dangerous for a snorkeler but not for a scuba diver?” Again, a shrug.) I would be remiss if I did not mention the islands. Tahiti itself is very similar to Hawaii; think Kauai not Oahu. Also, the water is really shallow, so you will see only miniature ships everywhere (I’ll talk about this in my summation)—container ships loaded with fifty containers instead of five hundred and oil tankers the size of ferry boats. This of course is a major reason why everything is so expensive; not only does everything have to be brought in from literally thousands of miles away (um, including the beef we got food poisoning from), but they can’t even be brought in aboard large, economically efficient vessels. Bora Bora is just too big to even begin to see much of anything, which is a shame; it’s the place with the most things to see and do. Moorea, practically within kayaking distance of Tahiti, is likely where the Paul Gauguin will dock overnight just before your return, and there are two beautiful inlets with mountain routes leading into the hills. The ship posted a schedule saying we would move overnight from one inlet to the other, and we had done a lot of planning about where we would explore the next day; but when we woke up we were still anchored in the same spot. The other islands were mostly forgettable. Not because they are not beautiful—they are!—but because the ship remains there for so little time you can’t really see anything. Do not pay extra to take the extended voyage to the big atolls (when I say big, I mean BIG—you cannot see to the other side of the lagoon) like Rangiroa unless you are specifically going on a paid SCUBA or, possibly, drift snorkel excursion***. The atolls are breathtakingly beautiful but they are so big and you have so little time that you will at best see a tiny percentage of them. Be aware that if you snorkel or scuba at the famous passes you will, by all accounts (my wife was too anxious and refused to go, but then she won’t go on rollercoasters, either), come across sharks. Big ones. Lots of them. I would have been worried but then I also know that statistics say that the commercial excursions are incredibly safe even if you are being circled by a dozen hammerheads. But if all you are going to do is swim or snorkel from the shore, stick with the shorter cruises around the Tahitian island chain proper. The lagoon beaches are definitely beautiful, but not exceeding Tahitian beaches. ***Warning! While I suppose there is no law against it (then again, there might be), you cannot drift snorkel (or scuba, probably) the atolls on your own. The way these atolls work is they are bathtubs the size of Connecticut with only a few ways for the water to get in and out. So every time the tide changes, so does the irresistible currents flowing first one way, then the other way. I saw a zodiac in a pass loaded with tourists watching dolphins jumping out of the water and each time he pulled up his anchor, he had to gun his 150 horsepower engine to make any headway. A swimmer wouldn’t have a chance, so you NEED A TOUR OPERATOR who will drop you off and pick you up at predetermined spots on either side of the passes. There are two “private” beaches used by Paul Gauguin. The first one is just that, a tiny strip of a beach on somebody else’s land. Almost not worth taking the tender. The other is an entire island—actually a “motu” (a piece of the surrounding atoll separated by a channel of sea from its neighbor)—and that was a lot of fun, although you can walk around the entire “island” in five minutes. Ironically, I would have to say that the highlight of our cruise was the hotel we finished up at (and which most Paul Gauguin guests stay at both before and after the cruise), the Intercontinental. This is close by both the ship pier and the airport (the other hotel we were put at our first night, whose name I will not disclose, is on the other side of the island). Great place, excellent rooms, great (but REALLY pricey) food, and an absolutely brilliant split pool with conventional filtered water on one side, and the ocean spilling through underwater fences on the other side so sealife can and does swim right in; they even have some coral reefs growing in the pool, separated from guests by more screens. The fish—some pretty big ones, too, ranging from four feet long down to tiny colorful aquarium pets—swim freely to and from the ocean, and to and from the artificial reef and the swim area. The irony of this is that the best snorkeling I had, in fact perhaps the most enjoyment I had, during the entire Paul Gauguin cruise…was at the hotel. Final thoughts: for years, Paul Gauguin has had a monopoly on French Polynesia. I read these gushing five-star reviews, including right here on Cruise Critic, and ask “have these people—including some who claim to be professional cruise critics—ever been on an actual luxury cruise ship in a location where it has competition and has to remain on the top of its game in every way to justify charging these huge ticket prices?” Well, the good news is that as of late 2019, competition is indeed on its way; Regent and Windstar have announced they will be bringing their brand of best-in-class service on their own ships, and Sea Dream is launching a new vessel that may eventually rotate there. On the economy end, the tired old Norwegian Pride of America—hopefully with some much-needed upgrades—will start including Tahiti and some surrounding islands as part of its time-honored circumnavigation of the Hawaiian chain, and it will be joined by the Pacific Princess, similar in size to Regent vessels. Due to the shallow seabed you won’t be seeing any mega-ships arriving (and that's definitely a good thing, as unleashing 6,000 passengers on the islands would ruin them), but you will be seeing competition at long last. Which is great news, because the islands and reefs are gorgeous, the people are friendly (even if you don’t speak French!), and the beaches are clean not because some resort is combing them twice a day but because they actually are clean. French Polynesia deserves better representatives of their tourism industry than the lazy and indifferent monopoly held by Paul Gauguin…and so do you. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
The purpose of my review is to give you some insight on cruising with Paul Gauguin cruises and to offer some tips to make your vacation more enjoyable. I talk about the good and the bad, so that you can be a better-informed consumer. ... Read More
The purpose of my review is to give you some insight on cruising with Paul Gauguin cruises and to offer some tips to make your vacation more enjoyable. I talk about the good and the bad, so that you can be a better-informed consumer. This is my second cruise with PG cruises. My wife and I like that the m/s Paul Gauguin (PG) ship visits exotic locations, the crew and staff provide great service, and the ship is a smaller ship, with only 332 passengers. Our previous one was 7 years ago and the itinerary was Society Islands & Tuamotus. This time, my wife and I wanted to revisit French Polynesia and see Fiji, and hopefully find vibrant corals that have not been bleached out (we found some!). We also had family members who wanted to experience the allure of the South Pacific. So, seven of us and a family friend went to the cruise from Tahiti to Fiji, which occurs every two years. Six of us did a pre-trip stay on our own at the Hilton in Moorea. Five of us did a post-trip stay at the Intercontinental Fiji, through PG. Overall, our cruise portion of the trip was very good to excellent. People in our group were impressed with all the beauty of the area and the turquoise blue water at the islands. The staff were friendly and helpful. We were routinely greeted in the hallways with “Ia Orana” (Hello). Our room was kept spotless (thanks to excellent room steward Rosenita). The food was very good, especially in the main dining room (L’Etoile). There was Afternoon Tea (with yummy pastries and snacks) in Le Grill. Bar staffer William took very good care of us for our drink orders. When we previously cruised with PG, all the shows were on the pool deck. Now there is a showroom called the Grand Salon on Deck 5. The PG “ambassadors”, Les Gauguines & Les Gauguins, performed Polynesian dance routines twice in the Grand Salon during the 13-night cruise. We had the musical talents of the Duo Marc & Abi and the Rhodes Brothers. We had the amazing magical shows by Gustavo Vierini. Gustavo also demonstrated his remarkable mentalist abilities in the Piano Bar several evenings. The Sound Wave Band provided live music and featured some excellent voices. Alex provided beautiful piano music before and after dinner in the Piano Bar. My wife and I had a Category C, balcony room, cabin #741. It was cozy without being claustrophobic. There was a sitting area with sofa and stool by the balcony door. There was also a round glass top table by the sofa. Our room attendant kept a basket of fruit for us on the table. In that area was a large cabinet with multiple shelves, a small TV, and a refrigerator. The shelves were not very deep, so storage of clothes was limited. Behind one of the cabinet doors was the room safe. It was very temperamental. Most of the time, even if I had the safe open only a short period of time, it would not lock when I closed it; I had to keep reprogramming it with the original code I used. The balcony had a small table and 2 high-back chairs. The refrigerator was stocked with waters, soft drinks, and some beers (as I recall). It would be restocked for free the next day. There were wine and other drinking glasses above the refrigerator area. There is a small desk towards the front of the room, by the bed, with a stool for sitting on. It is flanked by 2 closets. The leftmost closet has side-wall-to-side-wall hanging space and 3 large area shelves for clothes or other items. The rightmost closet has about half the hanging space of the other closet, 3 small shelves, and 1 large shelf. There is a small hanging bar attached to the back side of both closets. The desk contains the only practical outlets for plugging in your devices, and there are only 2 outlets: one the US style and the other the European style. The bed was comfortable with 2 pillows for each side. Controls for lights by the room were at each bedside. There was room underneath the bed to store several large suitcases. A key card needed to be kept in the slot by the door, to provide power in the room. Our room attendant provided one for us. The room attendant also provided 2 fresh towels for pool use every day. In the hallway were 2 hooks, and a small dresser with 4 drawers for storing clothes. [Tip to passengers: bring magnetic hooks to attach to the walls of the cabin for hanging hats, clothes, etc. on.] The bathroom has 1 sink, a central area to put toiletries on, and two medicine cabinets with shelves for more toiletries. One problem in the bathroom is the placement of the toilet paper; it is hard to reach, because it’s on your extreme left side, and mostly behind you. If you’re right-handed, you have to reach across and behind you. My wife found a workaround, especially at night. Take out one of the loose rolls of toilet paper from underneath the sink and place it on top of the counter—easy access then. The bathroom has a combination shower and tub, with a handheld shower head. There are pump bottles for shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. Bar soap is provided by the room attendant. I think there was more shopping than on my previous cruise. There were high end pearls that could be purchased in La Boutique (the gift shop). I don’t think the t-shirt selection was as good as it used to be. Apparently PG stopped selling several years ago the PG Cruise t-shirts with a map of the islands being visited. There was a table set up for working on a puzzle on Deck 6. Three to four puzzles were completed during the cruise. There was a library area with lots of books. There was a compact Fitness Center with work-out machines, mats, free weights, 3 treadmills, and 2 elliptical machines. You could watch TV from some of the treadmills and ellipticals. My wife and I both had massages at the Spa. I had the Polynesian massage which seemed to involve using thumbs to get at some of my tight muscles. Even without a spa appointment, you could reserve the excellent Hammam (steam area) for a 30-minute period at the Spa desk. The Hammam had a steam room, and a hot and cold shower room with towels and bathrobes. There were enrichment lectures presented during the cruise—on Captain Cook and his voyages, and on Polynesian culture. I found the one on Polynesian tattoos fascinating. I was surprised that one of these lectures was scheduled by PG on an At Sea day during the time of a crew safety drill; the lecture was repeatedly interrupted by Public Address (PA) announcements and the ship alarm alert system. There are many other activities going on during the day and evening, as shown in the daily program: shuffleboard, morning stretch, Polynesian dance class, social bridge, trivia, karaoke, disco, and many others. There was a salt-water pool on Deck 9, with lots of lounge chairs around the pool. My wife and I did water aerobics in the pool to work off some of the delicious food we were eating. There was no hot tub. Something unique about the ship is that there is a Marina on Deck 4 (aft), and the back of the boat can swing down to water level. This allows boats to pick up scuba divers for some trips. You can also kayak and paddle board from that area—when it is allowed. On my cruise, you could only do it at the stops in French Polynesia at Moorea and Taha’a (but not Bora Bora for some reason). You could also kayak—which we did—at PG’s private island, Motu Mahana, off the coast of Taha’a. My wife and I didn’t do any shore excursions at Taha’a, so that we could spend more time on the Motu. We enjoyed the floating bar at the Motu. There were plenty of lounge chairs and shade on the Motu. One highlight was the Barbeque Lunch. Another was being served drinks in your personal coconut. There was an area for snorkeling. We liked feeding the fish near the shore. [Tip to passengers: don’t feed bread to fish; it’s not good for them; instead bring some fish food from home.] You could buy souvenirs from local vendors who came to the Motu. In general, the food was very good on the cruise. And you could get free wine, beer, and alcoholic drinks with lunch, Afternoon Tea, and dinner—and from any bar at other times. There were premium wines and top-shelf alcohol that you could purchase. For example, you could get a Margarita with Don Julio tequila, but you would have to pay $5 US to get Patron tequila. At the dinners, there would be 2 featured wines, one red, one white, that would be served. You could ask for something different (e.g., a Chardonnay instead of a Sauvignon Blanc). The wine steward/bar staffer would take care of drink orders during meals. Initially we planned to eat multiple meals at the specialty restaurants, Le Grill and La Veranda. Instead, we ate at each of the Specialty Restaurants twice and changed back to the default restaurant, L’Etoile, because the food was just as good, we liked the atmosphere there, and the servers Angelo, Dave, and wine steward Glenn knew us by name and learned what we liked. PG was willing to sit our group at the same table of eight each night we dined there. (We did give the Dining Room manager a heads-up when we planned to eat there.) Be aware that the menus for the specialty restaurants change about halfway through the cruise. It’s the same menu for the first half of the cruise, and the same menu for the second half of the cruise. We selected our dining days so we could have the different menus at the specialty restaurants. We decided that we liked breakfast and lunch at La Veranda better than at Le Grill. You had a view out the back of the ship, you could eat outside, and the buffet had lots of tempting choices. My only complaint with L’Etoile was that most of the time when I ordered meat cooked “medium”, it came out undercooked (not even medium rare); I would have to send it back to be cooked some more. I was disappointed one night when we ate at the French specialty restaurant, La Veranda, and saw that a regional Bordeaux wine was served rather than an AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) quality wine. One of my group noticed one time at lunch that expired (for 6 months) olive oil was being served at Le Grill; that was brought to the attention of management, and the problem was fixed. We generally liked the PG shore excursions that we did. We tried to do as much snorkeling as we could. I learned from the Shore Excursions Director (formally the Travel Concierge Manager) Sorin that PG vets the excursion operators. For example, PG interviews companies for suitability for whale watching. Sorin and sometimes the Ship Safety Officer check boats for safety (e.g., enough life jackets), attitude towards sea animals and the environment, and willingness to work with a cruise ship. Sometimes there are lapses. I heard from a family member that the boat for the snorkeling trip at Beqa Lagoon almost left 2 passengers in the water. There were large swells, and the 2 other passengers were not easily seen. The missing passengers was brought to the attention of the boat captain before he was about to leave, who then located them. On the other hand, on one of my snorkel trips, the boat captain called out passenger names after each snorkel stop, before leaving, to make sure all passengers were present and accounted for; that was an excellent practice by that boat captain. If you like diving with sharks, there were several such dives during the cruise. At the dive at Beqa Lagoon, there were lots of sharks, including bull sharks. Dive staff from the ship accompanied the divers and watched out for sharks from the front and back; they had long metal poles with hooks to deter sharks that got too close to the divers. Because PG only travels to Fiji every 2 years, some information was outdated. For example, there were no changing rooms at Beqa beach for those who wanted to attend the Fire Walking show and go swimming later. The Port Talk indicated that there would be such facilities. Maps for each of the ports were available at the Shore Excursions Desk (formally the Travel Concierge Desk). The quality of the maps varied. There was more information on the maps for French Polynesia ports. Shore Excursions arranged for currency exchange when we visited Tonga and Suva, Fiji. Passengers were told at the Port Talk that the exchange for Tonga would be on the ship starting at 8 am and would last until 2 pm. That would allow those going ashore on the first shore excursion, with the tender leaving the ship at 8:30 am, to exchange some money before leaving on their excursion. At the last minute, the currency exchange was moved to the pier at Vava’u, Tonga. That practically prevented those on the first shore excursion from getting Tongan money, because tours generally left as soon as all the passengers got off the first tender. And then, the bank representative left in the morning, and did not stay around until 2 pm to buy unused currency back. Passengers had to walk to the Bank of South Pacific to re-convert money. Fortunately, the currency exchange worked better at Suva, Fiji, when the ship was able to actually dock (so, no tenders needed), and the exchange was at the dock as you exited the ship. I generally do not purchase Internet usage on a ship. I find the prices expensive and not cost-effective. Service can also be slow. I try to find free or cheap Wi-Fi at the ports. At Bora Bora, I found free, adequately fast, Wi-Fi at the Bora Bora Visitors Center by the pier; the network name and password are posted. At Aitutaki, Cook Islands, I found Wi-Fi I could purchase at the Bluesky Post (BlueZone), a short walk from the pier; for $5 US, I could download 200 MB worth of data. In Vava’u, Tonga, I purchased Wi-Fi at the Tropicana Café (3 Tongan dollars, about $1.30 US). At Suva, Fiji, I did the Uprising Beach Resort shore excursion; I got free Wi-Fi at the resort. We used PG Cruises for some parts of our vacation and not others. We did not use the PG hotels for our pre-stay. We did an air deviation, because we did not like the itinerary that PG offered—arriving late at night to board the ship: we like to arrive a day in advance in case there are flight delays and to start adjusting to the time change. (And then we decided to do a pre-stay on our own, which also would have required paying for the air deviation.) We did use a PG hotel for our post-trip stay. The only PG transfers we had were in Fiji—from the ship to the hotel and from the hotel to the airport for our flight back home. Be aware that the flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti is about 8 hours long, and the flight from Fiji back to Los Angeles is about 10 hours long. We did our own pre-stay, because we did not like what PG was offering. We wanted to stay close to Tahiti, and not take any inter-island flights which would reduce how much luggage we could carry for our 3-week vacation. The Intercontinental (IC) Moorea was being renovated, and we wanted to avoid the noise and construction. It was a good decision. Employees at the hotel ended up going on strike, and PG had to move guests booked at the IC Moorea to the IC on Tahiti, which was OK but not as exotic. My wife’s brother has also stayed multiple times at the Hilton Moorea, and highly recommended it. It was easy to get to (take taxi to ferry terminal, take Terevau ferry to Moorea, take taxi to Hilton). It was a wonderful pre-stay. Our pre-cruise (while-at-home) experience with PG was not good. Shore excursions were not available to book until 60 days before departure. For my previous cruise, I think that shore excursions could be booked sooner. There should be some advantages to booking a cruise early, like being able to sign up for some—the more popular—shore excursions 6 months or so before the cruise. Anyway, the more popular shore excursions were booked within hours of becoming available in July: whale watching/dolphin expeditions in Moorea, snorkeling in Savusavu, and snorkeling at Beqa Lagoon. When my wife and I tried to sign up online, we discovered we were locked out of signing up for any shore excursions. We contacted our travel agent to get the problem fixed. By the time that happened, we missed out on signing up for those popular tours. We tried to get on waitlists. Our travel agent said we were. But when we called PG, we were told we were not signed up for wait lists—which we then requested. That was the first of several situations where PG told our travel agent one thing, and PG told us something different when we called up. That is a surprising situation for a company with PG’s reputation. [Hint to passengers: sign up for shore excursions as soon as possible; if you have any problems, call PG directly and have them sign you up while you’re on the telephone with them.] None of the waitlists ever cleared. I did check on availability, almost daily, in the three weeks before leaving to go on the trip. On two occasions, I found a single slot open for one of the previously-fully-booked snorkel trips. I signed up immediately, and got a morning slot for my wife, and a few days later, an afternoon snorkeling slot for me. Once I got on the ship, the Shore Excursions Desk opened up another snorkel time, and I was able to get my wife and I signed up for the same time. (But then the Shore Excursions Desk did not notify each passenger who had signed up previously that the times had changed. One family member showed up at the time printed on his original shore excursion ticket, and missed the snorkel tour. There were good intentions, but flawed follow-up.) For the whale watching trip, I was able to book an alternative private tour based upon a suggestion made by one of the passengers on Cruise Critic’s roll call for the cruise. I signed up for a tour by the Moorea Activities Center (MAC). What I learned on the ship was disappointing. I talked to Sorin about all the problems I had signing up for shore excursions. He told me that he was never informed by the PG Main Office about any of the wait lists. He only learned about the booked sign-ups a few days before the cruise. He did get complaints from passengers about the full snorkel tours for Savusavu, and his team was able to arrange for a third snorkel tour to accommodate the requests. [Hint to PG: notify the team on the ship in advance about the demand for wait lists for shore excursions.] PG did not provide sufficient information to do planning for your own tours. When I scheduled my private whale watching tour, I relied on the information PG provided about the itinerary, namely an 8:00 am arrival in Moorea. I selected a morning tour, meeting a representative from MAC on the pier about 8:20 am. Unfortunately, PG did not publish more useful information: that there would be tenders from the ship to the pier, and the first tender would not leave the ship until about 8:30 pm. [Hint to PG: let passengers know at the time of booking when they will first arrive physically at a port to do something, not when the ship arrives.] Then, another situation came up. PG prioritizes who can get on the first tender leaving the ship: namely, those who have booked a PG shore excursion, not passengers like me who have booked a private excursion. Fortunately, my party was able to get on the first tender, and the MAC representative did wait for us, because we were in the first tender to arrive at the pier from the ship (two other guests did not show up, and missed their tour). Remark: PG personnel are only checking that you have a PG shore excursion ticket to board the first tender; they are not reading it to check that it is for that day and time. Tickets are collected on the pier for each PG shore excursion. Sorin later told me that passengers should come tell the Shore Excursion Desk that they have booked private tours and need to get to the dock by such and such a time. That way, the Shore Excursion Desk can decide if more than one tender is needed at a certain time. Communication between passengers and the Shore Excursion Desk is important. [Tip to passengers: if you’re on a private tour, let the Shore Excursions Desk (Travel Concierge Desk) know.] There was an issue with my PG transfer in Fiji, and I don’t know where the fault lies. We were transferred via PG to our hotel; we actually did a very enjoyable shore excursion on the disembarkation day and ended up at our post-stay hotel. When we checked in to the IC Fiji, there was absolutely no information about when we would leave the hotel to catch our ride to the airport several days later—this should have been an included PG transfer. One of us recalled that the excursion we took before we arrived at the IC Fiji was through Rosie’s Tours. There was a Rosie’s Tour desk by the main restaurant at the IC Fiji. Someone checked with them, and they had the transfer information. Nothing was ever delivered to our rooms. Originally they told us that we would leave the IC Fiji at 6:30 pm to go to the airport. The Nadi airport was a minimum of a 1-hour drive away. And Fiji Airways asked for a 3-hour check-in for international flights (ours was scheduled to depart at 9:40 pm). There was no way to arrive on time with the scheduled departure time from the hotel. I had to go to the tour desk and complain to get an earlier departure time of 5:30 pm. (There was a Captain Cook tour group staying at the hotel with some guests who had the same flight as us; Rosie’s refused to move their departure time up from 6:30 pm.) Be aware that Ponant recently purchased the m/s Paul Gauguin ship, and perhaps even the PG cruise line. The purchase supposedly happened at the beginning of the cruise; two of the owners came onboard the ship at Bora Bora, and stayed on for the rest of the cruise. There could be some future changes. Hopefully management will not mess with the successful elements of a PG cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE The following are my personal observations however, i am speaking as well on behalf of dozens of passengers on board the september 21,2019 paul gauguin voyage to fiji, cook and society islands, many of whom came to ... Read More
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE The following are my personal observations however, i am speaking as well on behalf of dozens of passengers on board the september 21,2019 paul gauguin voyage to fiji, cook and society islands, many of whom came to similar if not the same conclusion as myself, that the cost of this cruise far exceeded the value. AIRLINES My first introduction to paul gauguin staff, was while checking in at los angeles international airport on my air/sea package. One of their representatives appeared and checked my name off their list and shortly after disappeared leaving the passengers to fend for ourselves for the next three or four hours. i was then directed to a gate that was at the furthest end of the terminal. It was so cold i thought i must be on the runway itself. I was extremely surprised that paul gauguin had not provided a more comfortable lounge or waiting area exclusively for their passengers. Upon boarding air fiji, i was stunned to see the narrow seats and aisles that we were directed to for a 10 ½ hour flight. After awaking my seat mates during the night while attempting to slide a blanket under my tray table, i spilled the entire contents over my luggage and finally gave up the thought of sleep only to see the crew preparing for an elaborate breakfast which included cold scrambled eggs and uncooked sausage. ACCOMODATIONS After 25 hours of travelling from phoenix, arizona by bus, taxis and air with no sleep, i was transferred from the airport in lautoka, fiji to a very comfortable hotel room where the paul gauguin passengers were allowed to rest or eat until our bus returned eight hours later to transport us to our luxury cruise. Upon boarding, there were the usual formalities of checking in with staff members and providing passports and credit cards so that no one would consider jumping overboard after realizing what was in store for them. My first impression of my cabin which was one deck above the lowest and had a large window seemed comfortable enough until i entered the bath and noticed the shampoo, conditioners and shower gel bolted to the wall akin to a motel 6. The tub was too narrow and deep for me to attempt to lower myself into, being fearful i would never get out and the phone was too far away to call for help. Upon further investigation i realized that some of the cabin drawers were stuck, couldn’t be pried open and one drawer never remained closed. The cushions and carpet were shabby and worn and the bath sink and countertop needed a face lift. I then turned toward the fridge and found that it could not be adjusted and remained luke warm for the duration of the cruise.the few television channels were limited to the same political news with no option for sports or entertainment other than a handful of videos that were unfamiliar even to me at the age of seventy- six. In addition, shipboard announcements could not be heard inside cabin and i had to open the door to decipher them from hallway. CABIN STEWARD Upon entering the shower for the first time, i observed a used bar of hand soap in the tub dish left over from the previous guest. That bar of soap remained in the shower for the remainder of the voyage along with two cocktail napkins dropped on the floor, one by the bedside and one across the room by the waste basket. Bath mat and washcloths were not replaced daily and at one point i requested more cocktail napkins and a washcloth and was presented with a towel and a box of kleenex. CHEFS Total misrepresentation; no fine french cuisine, no caviar (with the exception of an eyedropper of herring caviar for decoration on one menu item), no tableside dining or recognizable french recipes. DECK SERVICE On several occasions i attempted to visit the bar on deck nine only to discover that it was never open. On days we were at sea there were not enough chairs or lounges on sundeck by pool to accommodate all passengers. In order to secure one, you would have to leave an item on it from early morning throughout the entire day. In addition, staff rarely assisted passengers moving chairs or securing towels to lounges. ENTERTAINMENT With the exception of a maitre d’ named alin and jenny, lead singer of the sound wave both of whom are great vocalists, abby and mark were energetic and very talented as was gustavo the mentalist. The remainder of musical talent was mediocre at best. In particular, alex in the piano bar was pitiful to watch. He plays dinner music all evening and blends into the background so completely that he can barely be heard and never encourages guest participation or asks for requests. However, what was most pathetic to watch was many of the crew members attempt to perform in the evening shows for a third of the voyage. Surely paul gaugauin can afford more professional entertainers particularly when some of the crew members are already working two or three different jobs on board. FOOD SERVICE/MENUS If i had known that three out of four meals daily would be served buffet style with an extremely limited a la carte menu ie; hamburgers, reubin sandwiches, and pizza, i would have thrown myself overboard on day one. When crepes suzette and bananas foster, flambe were served cold with sauce over vanilla ice cream (sans flambe), on a buffet line at four in the afternoon for tea time, i was stunned. However, i soon learned that many of the meals served even in the dining rooms were also cold or barely warm. For example, on one occasion, i ordered a lobster tail but made the fatal mistake of asking for a boiled potato instead of the pre-prepared mashed or baked. As a result, i spent two hours waiting to complete dinner. When the small lobster tail arrived, it was served with cold vanilla sauce and the drawn butter that i had to request was cold with no flame underneath to warm it. I then realized that most, if not all of the food served was similar to a factory assembly line where no substitutions could be requested or any deviation from menu items without throwing the kitchen into complete and utter chaos. Perhaps most disturbing was that during the entire cruise i was unable to order french onion soup, lobster bisque, baked alaska or even a croissant. Although in all fairness, it is possible that croissants were served on the buffet lines during breakfast or lunch that i chose not to attend because i refuse to stand in line for food at any time much less as early as 7 a.m. It reminds me too much like being on a chow line during a cattle drive. In addition to the above- mentioned items, i never expected to see chateaubriand served with brown gravy, meat loaf style. When the bernaise sauce was served the following evening, it was horrible as was the unchilled vichyssoise. Nor had i previously seen snails served dry on lettuce leaves. The final shocker came when i discovered the chef’s version of chocolate mousse was not served in a glass goblet but a piece of cake with cream filling between layers, not to mention the fact that we were travelling in the south pacific and i was informed we had run out of shell fish. RESTAURANTS Dining room menus were unavailable until noon on the same day and reservations were required at two of the three dining rooms. However, by the time the menus were posted in front of their respective restaurants only, it was too late to make reservations and i had to wait three nights before having the privilege of entering the grill or l’veranda. I was also informed that since there was limited seating at both locations, priority was given to couples rather than singles, although i had paid an excessive single supplement for the voyage. L’etoile, where i dined several evenings was so crowded that i missed half of the so-called entertainment by the time i finished dinner and one evening i asked for club soda to remove a stain and was told there was none on board despite the fact it was in my cabin refrigerator. I was also surprised to find that none of the ship bars had a coffee or hot chocolate machine, so i was unable to order hot after dinner drinks like irish coffee without a prolonged delay. On one occasion i was served a hot liquor drink in a plain coffee cup rather than a stemmed glass as it should have been. finally, there was no freshly squeezed orange juice available unless specifically requested. RECEPTION The female staff member of the reception desk barely spoke or understood english and ignored several of my requests. At one time she informed me that the cabin television had no sleep timer program available. Fortunately, i checked the tv remote and discovered there was a sleep timer button. During one instance, i asked repeatedly to speak with the purser before she granted me an audience. I found the purser to be argumentative and unwilling to take any responsibility for the difficulties i had thus far encountered. For the remainder of the cruise, i was harassed over an eleven dollar balance on my account, finally insisting that i sign a promissory note prior to disembarking and threatened with legal action if that amount was not received within 7 days. ROOM SERVICE Once again, an extremely limited menu for breakfast /lunch. since i primarily ate most of my early meals in my cabin, one morning i requested hot cereal, namely cream of wheat. To my surprise it was served dry with no milk or cream. On a separate occasion i requested a bloody mary with extra worcestershire sauce and celery salt on the side. I was informed that there was neither worcestershire nor celery salt available until the bars opened after 9:30 a.m. SERVERS The vast majority of crew and staff are philipino. Despite the fact they appear to be extremely polite and hard workers, i found there to be a difficulty with communication and a definite lack of quality cruising experience. Personally, i prefer quality over quantity and good service over pretentiousness. Some restaurant staff were overly solicitous and smarmy. Although being escorted to and from the dining room table is fine, my preference would have been to receive a fish fork or chilled salad plate and fork while dining. STAFF Some officers on board made excuses that due to the transition of ownership by the ponant cruise lines only days before our departure was the cause of dilapidated furnishings and carpet which would soon be replaced. They also claimed it was difficult to get adequate supplies at certain ports. However, that was no consolation to current passengers some of which were seasoned travelers and noted the change in quality from previous voyages ie; toiletries, liquor, wine brands and lower paid labor. It was suggested that travel agents should have been more diligent. In my opinion, unless the agents had recently been on board, they too were exposed to the same misrepresentation of quality by the paul gauguin marketing and advertising department as the rest of the passengers. TOUR DESK Had little to no information on local tours, buses or cabs and were unable to confirm airline seat assignments. During tahitian presentations, tour director was so boring and monotone in his descriptions that i barely could stay awake. He did not ask the audience for questions at conclusion of presentation as i would have expected. He also denied that the day rooms assigned at completion of voyage were determined based on the category stateroom that was purchased. He claimed that the higher quality hotels were fully booked, but were all the same standard which i later discovered was not the case. TAHITI PEARL HOTEL There was no food or beverages included during our stay which i was told by other passengers was not the case at the intercontinental or sofitel hotel dayrooms. There was only one english speaking channel to watch on television and very few of the staff spoke english. The inroom refrigerator was warm. There were no robes, slippers or wash cloths and the toilet barely flushed. The room was worn and dated very much like the ship, both past their prime. Upon my return home, i made several attempts to contact diana moore, ceo of paul gauguin by phone leaving unreturned messages. Finally, due to sheer luck and persistence, i randomly dialed an extension and heard a female voice proclaiming to be sandy stevens (spelled with a v, she insisted), vice president of sales and guest relations. At that moment i was sorely tempted to respond ‘’well, this is queen elizabeth (spelled with a z’’). however, i resisted and instead attempted to share my concerns and experience s. I was immediately shot down and informed that ms. Moore was too busy preparing for her european trip to speak with me and that she herself had only fifteen minutes before her next meeting. During the next ten minutes, i perceived ms. Stevens (with a v) to be arrogant, belligerent, indifferent and unwilling to accept any criticism, constructive or otherwise. She informed me that it would be futile to proceed any further in hopes of any reimbursement or compensation for my thoroughly deplorable experience. Therefore, i am hoping this review will enlighten any future passengers who are contemplating travel on paul gauguin so they won’t be misled by glossy photos and unfulfilled promises of a glamorous past that no longer exists. It is unfortunate that paul gauguin cruises has chosen to ignore myself and concededly a minimum of twenty percent of my shipmates who shared my disappointment and dissatisfaction on board a ship that once was a unique and elegant voyage but has since seen better days and is now existing on their previous reputation. As to my fellow travellers, i commend you for your good will, companionship and joviality that made an otherwise intolerable situation not only bearable but frequently enjoyable. In conclusion, paul gauguin’s marketing and advertising campaign claims to offer fine french cuisine and luxurious accommodations. Well, you can label anything you want as one thing but that doesn’t necessarily make it so. In my opinion, there was nothing fine, french or luxurious on paul gauguin except the scenery. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
No longer a 5 star ship but now a 4 star ship. The cabin was very spacious. l'occitane was not provided in the room. They use a big bottle of local shampoo and conditioner. I was expecting this but they no longer have it. The ... Read More
No longer a 5 star ship but now a 4 star ship. The cabin was very spacious. l'occitane was not provided in the room. They use a big bottle of local shampoo and conditioner. I was expecting this but they no longer have it. The slippers provided was even cheap. The food was excellent. The service was very good. The ship is a bit dated. The was only 1 restroom around the major dining areas. Always a long line up when it's dinner time. The salt water pool was excellent. The bar service was good. All the staff was very tentative. All the employees know your name after meeting you for 1st day. They do not have any cognac except for the local brand which did not taste good at all. All other cognac was an extra premium. I expected more due to the amount we have paid for the cruise. I was expecting 5 star service but really only received 4 stars due to the room amenities. Lack of local fruits and dishes served. There was not much shrimp. Only 2 days did I see shrimp on the menu. 1 night of lobster. We did meet some amazing people on this cruise. Everyone was so friendly and just wanted to have a good time. The private island was wonderful to be on. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was my 6th cruise on everything from a converted fishing trawler to a mega ship. We chose this cruise because we wished to visit a variety of South Pacific islands (Cook and Society). I'd give the cruise a B+ and our overall ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise on everything from a converted fishing trawler to a mega ship. We chose this cruise because we wished to visit a variety of South Pacific islands (Cook and Society). I'd give the cruise a B+ and our overall vacation an A. The pros include: 1) ports, 2) ease of access, 3) size of ship/number of passengers, 4) quality of food, 5) cabins, 6) excursions. The cons include: 1) mediocre service especially in restaurants, 2) entertainment, 3) tender schedule, 4) poor communication. Our window cabin felt relatively spacious (438) and was very quiet. Full bathroom and lots of storage. I wished we could have controlled how many lights were on at a given time. Beds were narrow but very comfortable. We did "separate" beds, which meant there was a sliver of space between the two. There was a small loveseat, which in this room is an extra bed. Ports we visited were really enjoyable though we heard that the last two ships had not been able to tender at Aitutaki because the water was too rough. That would have been a disappointment. Also, we were told that you don't want to book these cruises during cyclone season Dec-Feb. Except for Tahiti we tendered everyone. Mostly very short tender rides (starting at 8:30) but the schedule is once every 30 minutes in each direction not matter how close we were, and sometimes that was 2-3 minutes away. If you just miss a tender or want to be able to run back to the ship you end up with a lot of time killed. Our ship was about 2/3 of the 330 capacity. It felt busy enough up on deck. Chairs would be taken so I don't know where another 100+ would fit. And because of the relatively smallness of the ship and the multiple uses outside areas are put to, the chairs around the pool deck would start "disappearing" well before sunset as the area was readied for the next event. I found that annoying. Maybe I'd like to lounge at 4:30 or 5:00 and not have the place packed up around me. Food was good overall. We thought many of the lunch offerings were excellent. Breakfast was the weakest offering. Dinners had good choices and different menus across the three dining rooms. But acquiring the necessary reservations in two of the restaurants was a challenge between their hours and some other mystical force. Most nights if we inquired about the availability of last-minute reservations we were told "all booked up." Meanwhile, we'd peer into the windows of the restaurant throughout the evening to see myriad empty tables. And mind you, the ship was only 2/3 full. My husband was convinced the Maitre D liked it that way. Restaurant service was a whole other story. It sucked to put it bluntly. Just about no one learned our name or preferences over 11 days. During breakfast and lunch buffets good luck getting someone to offer you anything from coffee to water to taking an actual order. One morning I nearly got into a fight with a server who cleared my still-full coffee mug from the table and refused to give it back. One night, after 20 minutes had passed and no one had offered me wine, I had to resort to flailing my arms. And the alcohol may be "free" but I did not have one decent glass of wine (and there are many other choices than the two bottles of the night they highlight, which I didn't learn until almost the end of the cruise). If you order one of something, expect that two will arrive. And even if you don't order something, it may appear because you asked about it. And during dinner service the waitstaff would deliver your food and never, ever check back with you to see if it were to your liking or if you needed something else. The entertainment was passable. The piano player couldn't carry a tune and played a non-dynamic range. The magician was decent. The onboard Gauguines are cute to watch for a show or two but after that they got a bit monotonous. The best entertainment was the last night when an award-winning troupe came aboard. There were assorted activities such as craft projects and cultural talks to attend but most of these were scheduled just as excursions started. A number of passengers expressed frustration about there not being more offerings later in the afternoon as people returned to the ship. There are a wide range of high quality excursions to choose from and in many cases the vendors are the same as you would book independently. Pricing was decent. We booked some PG excursions, some on our own, and rented cars on some islands (taxis are expensive and often few and far between). We received contradictory information about excursion length (which according to cruise staff includes tendering time). A hike we booked on Moorea was listed as 4 hours one place, 5 another, and in the end was more like 6 (which caused us to nearly miss lunch - that's a whole 'nother story and yet another example of unaccommodating dining room staff). They are accommodating when it comes to rescheduling and cancelling excursions. There is a decently-equipped gym. Unfortunately, you couldn't walk the upper deck before 8:30 a or in the evening. We had to be creative in going for onboard walks. There is a steam room you can access by reservation in the spa. I managed laps in the postage-stamp sized swimming pool. The advertised onboard marina was a disappointment. Only once, in Huahine, were we able to use paddle board and kayaks. That was it from the ship. Embarkation and disembarkation are really straightforward. We arranged our own transfers and hotel, which I think made for a more pleasant experience on the last day. You can use your room until 9:30. We left the ship at 10 for a full day at the Intercontinental. Passengers being transferred by PG had to mark time on the ship until 3 when they were transferred. A lot of what I'm sharing wasn't readily communicated. One example of poor communication was that one evening we were told everyone would have to present themselves for customs in the Grande Salon when we arrived back into French Polynesia the next morning before they could get off the ship. What they failed to mention was that the entire ship would get a 7:45 a wake-up announcement and that your cabin phone would start ringing at 8 a if you hadn't shown up. I don't know why they made it sound like you could do this at your leisure rather than first thing in the morning. I don't appreciate being awakened while on vacation. I'm happy to answer questions offline: cambiare2011 at gmail. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have been to Tahiti in the past, but never taken a cruise. We decided to give it a try so we could experience several islands and excursions in a short amount of time, without having to worry about accommodations or dining. There were 8 ... Read More
We have been to Tahiti in the past, but never taken a cruise. We decided to give it a try so we could experience several islands and excursions in a short amount of time, without having to worry about accommodations or dining. There were 8 of us in our group ranging from 8 to 82 years old. Overall, the ports of call, excursions, crew service, food and cabin were superb. We loved the fact that it was a small cruise (300+ passengers) because everything was more personal. The Good - The food was top notch. Good breakfast and lunch selection and very good dinner selections. The waiters were very attentive. - The cabin was comfortable and nice, but the extras (food, cleanliness, special requests, etc) made it special. - The excursions were entertaining and varied; scuba departing from the on-ship marina was a very nice touch. Room for Improvement - It was somewhat of a hassle having to stay in a hotel a day before departure and during the day of disembarkation. In addition, it wasn't clear what kind of food was included at the hotel; the food was just OK and expensive. - The pool is definitely small and it more for show than actual usage. - The online excursion reservation system was fine, but make sure you do it before the cutoff date. - The entertainment was adequate, but having the same band for "everything" during the cruise got a little tiring. We enjoyed immensely our cruise and next time we will probably do the tuamotus... One last piece of advice, even though the gratuities are included, do leave gratuities to the 4 or 5 people that were outstanding during the cruise; they do appreciate it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Orana, 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, ... Read More
Orana, 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) Such variety! 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!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The ship can hold a maximum of 326 or so passengers; there were 260 passengers, 226 crew on our trip. Pretty good crew-to-passenger ratio. Passengers: Mostly English speaking couples, some French, a few Japanese and Spanish (south ... Read More
The ship can hold a maximum of 326 or so passengers; there were 260 passengers, 226 crew on our trip. Pretty good crew-to-passenger ratio. Passengers: Mostly English speaking couples, some French, a few Japanese and Spanish (south American.) There were three young (5-ish) children, from three different families that did not previously know each other. They were well-behaved. Once in a while a bit energetic and rowdy, but in places where this wasn't inappropriate. We only briefly glimpsed one of the families; of the other two, I don't think the children spoke English, but that also wasn't a factor. Most were m/f couples around 45-70, but there was a smattering of everything, including grown kids helping their parents, all types of couples and everything from extreme goths to men who wore dinner jackets with shorts. Cellular Service The ship does have cell service through Maritime. Which is not covered by AT&T Passport. Unlike some other lines, no package available. I didn't use the Maritime coverage. Throughout French Polynesia, Vini is the local cell service. AT&T was definitely confused on the concept of Tahiti vs French Polynesia - I called and they thought they only supported Tahiti, not Bora Bora or Moorea. Post-cruise, I can confirm that AT&T Passport over Vini was covered in all three islands. Vini coverage was fine. The Pool There is a mandatory pool atop the ship. It's pretty small; you wouldn't do laps in it. They drain it for cruising, refilling it (with salt water from the ocean) every morning. Food: The food was mostly very good. Dinners were 50% amazing, but 50% mediocre for a good restaurant. Seafood was reliably fantastic, vegetarian dishes were consistently poor. Drinks were good and as strong as you wish. We didn't have any whisky, but the vodkas and rums were quality, including Grey Goose, Titos and Sky. (Didn't check on others.) Weirdest Shipboard Experience: The hours-long rooster-apacalypse early in Moorea, tons of crowing in the distance for at least an hour. Sounds like a bit of a sports event. Not too loud, but funny. Excursion and Docking information Just in case you weren't aware... excursions are cheapest from the provider. The hotels (e.g. the Intercontinental) mark them up 37%. (Yes, that's the number. Not sure why, but I did verify it.) The Paul Gauguin seems to have an even higher mark-up. e.g. €70 (US$78) for the Blue Lagoon Day vs $109 from the hotel and $139 from the ship. That's nearly double for doing it from the ship (in this case; the ship markup seems to vary.) But it is far more convenient, especially considering... Two of our excursions were cancelled, one due to port change, the other due to weather. We rolled with it. In one case, the "travel concierge" on deck four was able to get us onto a replacement that showed fully booked, when I requested it. (She picked up a phone and spoke in exceedingly fast French for several minutes, hung up and said something like, "It is done." Straight out of a movie.) Snorking quality varies immensely. If you regularly dive or snorkle, you already know this. But if not, just realize that just because snorkling is offered, doesn't mean there's anything interesting to see there. If you're used to using the PGCruises.com "Manage My Trip"... well, they don't keep it up-to-date. (As a rule, the Gauguin technology seems at least a decade behind.) We had two excursions cancelled... change of docking location for one, weather for the other. These aren't removed from the web page. In theory, according to the Travel/Concierge on Deck 4, the T.V. (ironically, their brand-new "ITV System") is kept up-to-date, but it really isn't... our Moorea docking was moved from Oahapanu Bay to Cook's Bay (because a Princess Cruise will be coming on Friday) but the T.V. information wasn't updated. There are detailed schedule sheets. They're pretty useful. But most useful was simply going to the Concierge, who knows what's going on and can sometimes squeeze you in anyhow. Scuba French Polynesia is fantastic for scuba diving. We did several dives. Another passenger referred to this as "Princess Diving", because the equipment (BCD, regulator, tank, weights) are provided and checked for you, they help you strap them on if desired, you flop over the side and then at the end, hand them up and climb aboard unencumbered. It's much easier than the beach drysuit diving we'd mostly done before. You do have to check in with the dive master to schedule dives; he checks your logbooks and medical certificate. You don't have to use the PGCruises medical cert; I brought a copy of my last doctor sign-off, and I believe they can check you there anyhow. But this gave my nervous SO a chance to talk about the dives before deciding. The Zodiac (they have several) leaves from the 3rd-floor boat marina. We brought our own masks, snorkles, fins and computers, but some people used boat-issued ones. Dives were in groups of four, each with a guide. It was a really great time. You don't need to scuba to swim with the sharks and rays; Shark City is a shallow (perhaps a meter) deep area better for snorkling. But we saw much larger sharks, and a lot of other great life, diving. ATV Tour of Huahine Nui We took the Hauhii ATV tour around the island. The highlight was, sadly, the driver in front of me crashing into the driver in front of him. No injuries, but it was exciting. We also did some shore riding, which allowed us to get a better view of the tidal life than we could on foot, because the rocks are simultaneously super-sharp and super-slippery, not a problem for a 4WD ATV but dangerous on foot. We also saw several of the stone marae (temples, basically), the river-eels, a lot of backyards and residents. This gave us a deeper and closer look at the real island than any of the other tours, but that may not be what you really want... because the island's economy really isn't all that great. (My trip notes stated "Third world back alleys.") BBQ on the Motu: This is the excursion, not the "private island" day on Motu Mahana in Bora Bora... covered below. TL;DR: Skip this one. This wasn't all that close to where the Gauguin was docked, so the ride out was long. That may be unusual; our dock was changed because a Princess Cruise was going to need Oahapanu Bay, the larger bay, so the Gauguin docked at Cook Bay instead. On the way, we stopped at Shark/Stingray City, an area out several hundred meters in meter-deep water where the rays and sharks have been fed for decades. This was fantastic and fun. All these large carnivorous fish swimming around you and expecting contact. Definitely do this, but there are other ways to do it than the BBQ excursion. Then we got to the Motu. This one had a lot less going on than Motu Mahana. You're there for hours, but no food or drink for the first several. It's heavily wooded, limited sun. The food is grilled right there, still limited drinks - just beer and water. And not really that great for snorkling either. Eventually, you're glad to leave. Waverunner & Snorkeling Adventure This was a longish ATV ride in very choppy water. Apparently, we were right on the cusp of where they would cancel the excursion, except that two days had already had cancellations due to changed docks. So the ride was a bit brutal. But the scenery was amazing. Snorkling was pretty good, but keep in mind that it may have been more impressive to people who weren't doing scuba dives. The view of the overwater bungalows (and how many resorts have them) was really neat. The guide also prepped some bananas, coconut and grapefruit for us. The bananas and coconut were amazing. We weren't fans of the grapefruit, but it was neat to experience. Motu Mahana This is included with the cruise. It's the "Gauguin Private Island" day. And it's a blast. Imagine it's just past the halfway mark of the cruise. You now have a bunch of friends (it's a small ship, remember? And a self-selecting set of passengers.) The island has wonderful white sand, perfect trees, a huge BBQ buffet, unlimited good drinks, some served in coconut shells (which are greener than you expect from watching Gilligan's Island, apparently not the most accurate documentary.) The water is warm, and even the rain doesn't dampen things. Plenty of chaises, the water is wading-deep for quite some distance, full-plumbing facilities. Really, no downside. Well, one downside. There's an encampment on the other side of the Motu that resembles a homeless camp. I asked about it; apparently one of the local families has "an arrangement." You'll see it if you walk around the Motu (and if they're still there), but if you just stay in the resort-area, you won't. Tip: Don't bother bringing your snorkle gear to the Motu. Despite the description, there's not much to see, especially compared to some other stops. Excursions we heard about: The "Le Truck" excursion disappointed the passengers we chatted with. They didn't see much, were stuck on the road, it seemed aimed at getting them to spend money at local businesses and they just didn't enjoy it. The "personal submarine"/Aquabike's had passengers raving. NOT scuba passengers, but scuba takes prep, training and equipment. It seemed everyone who did the Aquabike loved it. Extras: Get the laundry Service. We booked this electronically well before the trip. It's completely worth it. Just make sure you accurately count your items going out; my SO got it wrong (twice!), with them rejecting the order as a result. Perfectly reasonable, not a big deal. You can't order the internet package in advance; it must be done from on-ship. And it was spotty. The ship's equipment is not a match for today's expectations. This isn't a French Polynesia issue; my cellfone had better coverage and speed than the best of the boat, and large portions of the boat and even some of the cabin had dead zones. But still, it's not expensive and is very convenient. Just realize you won't be doing any streaming or VOIP calls. This had no impact on me other than surprising me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise specifically due to the smaller number of passengers. We like a less crowded experience. We really loved the locals who entertained us and helped with local crafts. What a way to learn! If was fantastic. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically due to the smaller number of passengers. We like a less crowded experience. We really loved the locals who entertained us and helped with local crafts. What a way to learn! If was fantastic. We haven't cruised in a long time, but found getting aboard and finding information about the excursions we chose very easy. Of course there was no shortage of people to help you! We dined in all of the restaraunt's and they were all superb. Staff were very courteous and never seemed so overwhelmed with passengers that they couldn't provide good service. I loved the ports. I especially liked Huahine but maybe it was our tour guide. We did the 'Sacred Sites' one and our guide was very well educated and also could answer random questions about plants, shells, animals........and what a sense of humour! Of course the picnic on Motu Mahana was so incredibly relaxing.....or busy if you wanted to partake in water actvities. Did I remember to say how beautiful the Motu is!! On our last day at Mooreau we spent at the InterContinental Resort and Spa, my husband enjoyed to rest by the pools and read. A rest after nearly 5 weeks of traveling. It was our 40 wedding anniversary and we had a wonderful sunset cruise of the bay in Bora Bora and a private dinner on the ships marina! It was so romantic, the highlight for sure. The staff did such a good job of keeping this a secret from my husband and he loved the surprise. Thank you for that! Loved the entire experience and would love to do it all again........ Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise over others , first ,balconies, a must while cruising the South Pacific. Second ,reputation. We were not disappointed, from start to finish, the crew of the Paul Gauguin take care of your every need. Pick up at Tahiti ... Read More
We chose this cruise over others , first ,balconies, a must while cruising the South Pacific. Second ,reputation. We were not disappointed, from start to finish, the crew of the Paul Gauguin take care of your every need. Pick up at Tahiti airport and taken to hotel was smooth and efficient, as was embarkation, quick ,efficient, and with in minutes we were escorted to our cabin. My only disappointment with the cabin was the dated bathroom, still a bath tub with shower attachment......needs to be updated. Everything else was great.Our room stewardess just couldnt do enough for us, and when she found out it was our 50th anniversary, decorated our cabin with balloons,banner,flowers on the bed and more.....Anna was a darling. 3 restaurants gave way to a great variety of great food , wine, spirits ,beer was free flowing throughout the dining and day, mainly French wines but you only had to ask for one of your chose. Lots of activities going on during the day , piano bar with a very talented piano player to entertain. Crew night and nightly entertainment by the Polynesian dancers, disco and an amazing band, or just sit and chill out on deck. Plenty of shore excursions to choose from, also 2 days at the Paul Gauguin private beaches. One could not fault the service all members of the crew gave. Would we go again, yes,but for longer next time,7 days just was not long enough.........not everything was perfect hence I did not rate as Excellent, but it was so close........ Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
A friend took this cruise and I liked that it was a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. We added two days at the front of the trip to stay in a bungalow in the lagoon at the intercontinental hotel. We flew Air Nui Tahiti and even though ... Read More
A friend took this cruise and I liked that it was a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. We added two days at the front of the trip to stay in a bungalow in the lagoon at the intercontinental hotel. We flew Air Nui Tahiti and even though it was in coach, the food was good and lots of free entertainment. Highly recommend is asking if there are any upgrades available as it is much cheaper. PGC took care of everything as there was someone waiting for us at the airport to take us to the hotel. Our bungalow was great as was the hotel. Do bring an adapter for the electricity though the hotel will sell you one and then refund the money upon checkout. Transfer to the ship, check in and settling in room was seamless. The room reminded us of our Airstream - lots of storage and comfortable. The week on board was great. The staff learns your name and I swear they could read minds as they anticipated everything. Food was wonderful and halfway through the cruise, we were asked if we wanted to share a table which we did. We sat with a couple from Texas and other guests and ended up dining with them for the rest of the cruise. We did excursions everyday as we thought that would be the best way for us to see things. Really enjoyed the two private islands. I have arthritic knees and every time I went down the stairs to the launch, two crew members assisted me on andoff the launch. Every morning I ordered a pot of coffee from room service and it was there in less than 5 minutes. At the end of the cruise, we got a tour of Tahiti since we couldn’t check into the hotel til after 2. I thought that we would all get put in one room, but we were checked into individual rooms. We were not impressed with the Tahiti Pearl as they were rather rude. We got the fun around trying to ear dinne4 as their restaurant was closed for a private party, but finall got to eat. When we checked into the airport, I asked if there was any upgrades available and there were in Premier class. So for $350 a person, we got a roomier seat with foot rest. It made the redeye an easier way to sleep. All in all, it was a great trip. Would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We sailed on a 14 day cruise on the Paul Gauguin 26th January 2019. Paul Gauguin booked us on Tahiti Nui airlines from LAX to Papeete, an airline that I don't recommend taking. However, The transfer from the airport to the ship was ... Read More
We sailed on a 14 day cruise on the Paul Gauguin 26th January 2019. Paul Gauguin booked us on Tahiti Nui airlines from LAX to Papeete, an airline that I don't recommend taking. However, The transfer from the airport to the ship was not too stressful. I found the ship dated (démodé), the cabin not that comfortable, the bathroom was not up to scratch with a tiny shower and a bath that was scratched and stained. As for the shampoo, conditioner soap etc-I definitely feel they need to change the brand as they all had an unpleasant smell. The one good thing was the room attendant Anna, who was absolutely great cleaning and tidying the cabin twice a day. They have three restaurants on the ship, the food I found was mediocre- however the staff and service (always with a smile) in all of the restaurants and decks was by far the best thing on the cruise. I was very disappointed with the guest speakers on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
It was an excellent service aboard the PG. No matter if maid or waiter, all super nice and very friendly. The cabin had a normal size, fine wood furniture. We had a porthole cabin and it was adequate, since you are not very much in the ... Read More
It was an excellent service aboard the PG. No matter if maid or waiter, all super nice and very friendly. The cabin had a normal size, fine wood furniture. We had a porthole cabin and it was adequate, since you are not very much in the cabin anyway. The food was very good. If you wanted, you could eat all day! There was always a restaurant open somewhere! In the evening we ate at the main restaurant. The food was very good and the service there was excellent. The show program was not so good. Since we are used to much better from our previous trips on other ships. The offered excursions were well organized and you had the choice. But you could also do something on your own. The ship itself is getting old, which one unfortunately sees at one point or another. That would not have to be. You can work on it! Otherwise it was by and large a very nice trip, but we would not book it again! Sorry! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Air fare from Los Angeles is included in the price. Everything was handled to perfection. The ship and its staff was beyond our expectations and we felt like royalty. Food was incredible, and the ports visited were magical! Staff knew our ... Read More
Air fare from Los Angeles is included in the price. Everything was handled to perfection. The ship and its staff was beyond our expectations and we felt like royalty. Food was incredible, and the ports visited were magical! Staff knew our names by the next day, and our preferences. Loved the fact you could choose from 3 dining rooms for dinner each night. 2required a reservation but there was never a problem making them. We were on board for my husbands birthday and they spoiled him all day. Room was even decorated and a special cake at dinner. Also liked the relaxed attire dress code wise. Didn't have to pack my husbands tuxedo to be used only once or twice. A surprise at the end was the fact we were put up in a day room of a beautiful resort with all transfers included, as our plane left after 11:00pm the day we disembarked. That was the icing on the cake! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We have never been on a cruise prior to this trip, we chose this PG because the boat was comparatively small and it was in Tahiti. Tahiti is a very expensive holiday destination and the cruise seemed fairly priced. We had a balcony cabin ... Read More
We have never been on a cruise prior to this trip, we chose this PG because the boat was comparatively small and it was in Tahiti. Tahiti is a very expensive holiday destination and the cruise seemed fairly priced. We had a balcony cabin on level 8, it was very quiet and came with a butler. Our butler was Harry and he was fantastic, nothing was a problem. Harry organised dining, drinks anything we wanted really. The ladies cleaning our room were really great also, very helpful. The ship isn't new but we thought it was a lot better than some reviews were stating it was. We had many meals at the Le Grill restaurant that was very well run by Randy with great support from Joey and Roland, all the food was great. A special mention of Jobert a wine waiter, he was an amazing young man, he found out our favourite wine and next day we notice a bottle in our room - what a great touch. He was far more than a wine waiter and in a lot of ways this is how we found most of the staff on-board, this made for a great cruise. The other 2 restaurants were not as good but still very good food and service. We loved the Gauguin performers, great fun. The PG organised shore excursions were expensive, we found it was better simply to get off the boat and organise our own excursions. The only negative was in November it is starting to rain a lot in Tahiti. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We have wanted to return to Tahiti since our last cruise there in 2001. It was the perfect relaxing getaway in a most spectacular destination. French Polynesia has such dramatically beautiful islands. Perfect weather too - not too hot! The ... Read More
We have wanted to return to Tahiti since our last cruise there in 2001. It was the perfect relaxing getaway in a most spectacular destination. French Polynesia has such dramatically beautiful islands. Perfect weather too - not too hot! The staff on the Paul Gauguin were the most personable of any cruise we have taken. Just amazing. The ship is lovely, comfortable and spacious. Three places to dine — all good! Loved dinners in La Veranda but wished the menu changed throughout the week. Nevertheless the food was great, nice presentation and impeccable service. Embarkation and disembarkation was handled very well - smooth and quick. Efficient. Did only two shore excursions as we had been to Tahiti before. Enjoyed the private PG beach - all included. Used the spa for massages - very nice! For a small ship, the Paul Gauguin had a little of everything the big ships have, even a small casino. What it did NOT have was a crowded feeling! We thoroughly enjoyed our week. Will look forward to cruising again on the Paul Gauguin. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Chose Paul Gauguin and French Polynesia as that destination was on our bucket list. Had independent air travel so waiting almost 12 hours by the cruise port was a drag. However embarkation was a breeze compared to larger ships. If you ... Read More
Chose Paul Gauguin and French Polynesia as that destination was on our bucket list. Had independent air travel so waiting almost 12 hours by the cruise port was a drag. However embarkation was a breeze compared to larger ships. If you are looking for a floating resort to wow you with headliner names and fancy facilities like an ice rink or water slide, this is not the ship for you. If you like the smaller ship atmosphere along with learning about the local culture, this is an excellent choice. We ate most of our meals at the Veranda where we received excellent service and delicious food. We tried the main dining room a few nights and had a great experience there too. The ship might not be brand new, but offers the same comfort and facilities as newer ships; nothing to complain about. The beach days on the motus are highlights of the itinerary. If you snorkel, you can pick up the equipment and keep it for the duration of the cruise. The shore excursions of the islands where OK, some not as informative and engaging as others. The entertainment is mostly focused on the local culture along with a crew show. The cabin was comfortable and well equipped. Kudos to PG for including drinks and gratuities. Planning our next PG cruise already! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
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