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20 Paul Gauguin Cruises Family Cruise Reviews

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
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
This was our 2nd cruise on the Paul Gauguin but this time we travelled with three generations- us, the grandparents, our daughter and her spouse, and our grandchildren, ages 10 and 11! It was so much fun with every day bringing new ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise on the Paul Gauguin but this time we travelled with three generations- us, the grandparents, our daughter and her spouse, and our grandchildren, ages 10 and 11! It was so much fun with every day bringing new discoveries under the water and in the dining rooms! As always on this cruise line, the customer service was fantastic and all the ship's amenities were outstanding - the food, the spa, the excursions, the entertainment, the cabins, and especially the children's program that was offered on this particular cruise. The two leaders of the group were extremely knowledgeable, approachable, enthusiastic, and fun- our kids had experiences that could have only happened on this boat and with these two young women - swimming with sharks and rays, being in a small boat with a college professor surrounded by 50+ dolphins, going on drift snorkels twice, getting off a boat into a real-life aquarium with beautiful coral, amazing fish and other sea animals, and having study lessons and sessions that were informative and interesting- they did not want to miss a minute! Really an extraordinary experience for all of us! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise ship because we were on it 2 years ago, and LOVED it! There are no words to describe the service on this ship. It is absolutely THE BEST service you will ever receive anywhere in the world! EVERYONE, and this goes ... Read More
We chose this cruise ship because we were on it 2 years ago, and LOVED it! There are no words to describe the service on this ship. It is absolutely THE BEST service you will ever receive anywhere in the world! EVERYONE, and this goes for every person that is on that ship, is amazing! I cannot say enough about the waiter staff, or the housekeeping staff! Kudos Paul Gauguin for hiring people that care about their jobs! The outings were good too, most of the time. The only negative I would give is that they have apparently switched their shampoos and lotions to another brand that is really terrible. Last time we were there it was so wonderful, as far as shampoos and conditioners and lotions go, that I didn’t bring any this time hoping to save some weight in my luggage. BIG mistake! So take your own, if you go! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Incredible 5* service, lovely people, beautiful destination, ship perfect in every way... this cruise will ruin you for all other cruises!! We will return!! It was the best week ever. Everything from Check in to check out was seamless, ... Read More
Incredible 5* service, lovely people, beautiful destination, ship perfect in every way... this cruise will ruin you for all other cruises!! We will return!! It was the best week ever. Everything from Check in to check out was seamless, very well organised and with such a small ship, no waiting for anything!! We made some great friends onboard, especially the attentive staff, Flo, Hermie, Darwin, Anthony, Allan and the divine Jobert who we wanted to take home with us! The food was delicious, nothing was too much trouble, we just had to ask! L’Etoile was our favourite restaurant, La Palette our favourite bar. Book your degustation at La Verandah as soon as you can - maybe for the 2nd and last night as it fills up and book an outsider table in Bora Bora at La Grille. Otherwise, we loved L’Etoile, so much variety. We were up late and stayed up late due to time zone change from Australia, so we often had the “Santa Rosa Band” to ourselves in La Palette bar as most people were from the US. The musicians were top class, get a daily schedule from reception each day so you can follow them around :) The shows were amazing, especially the Magician, Nicolas and the crew show is not to be missed - hilarious!! The included day trips to the PG private island in Taha’a and the private beach in Bora Bora are all you need to do, we did a couple of extra day trips but I was happy to be onboard with the friendly staff by the pool (who automatically brought our favourite drinks/snacks after the first day) We got involved in most of the activities onboard but it is so relaxing to do nothing at all! Travelled with 2 young boys 6&9, they had a ball, were very comfortable and well catered for, but they are well travelled and like talking to adults, they didn’t have any other kids to play with, but they were happy to read by the pool or swim/kayak/play jenga. The built in Marina is amazing, we kayaked every day, get your snorkels as soon as the emergency muster is done on the first day! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Wanted to give a heads up warning to anyone considering cruising on the Paul Gauguin that you will be paying Regent prices without receiving the quality experience you may expect. There are many friendly individuals aboard who work hard ... Read More
Wanted to give a heads up warning to anyone considering cruising on the Paul Gauguin that you will be paying Regent prices without receiving the quality experience you may expect. There are many friendly individuals aboard who work hard to give passengers great service, but there are too many negatives to overcome. It's a long way to travel and a lot of money to spend to sail on a Paul Gauguin cruise. French Polynesia is a wonderful location for a vacation. I would suggest researching alternatives if you decide to visit. We didn't let our disappointment ruin our trip. When it became apparent that drink service on deck 8 aft was terrible, we moved to the piano bar and met Nelson, who was an outstanding crew member. He memorized every traveler's name on the ship. Don't like flies on your lunch buffet food in La Grill? La Veranda had the same food daily served inside. Drinks watered down? Order doubles. Dining for our party of four was very hit or miss. Some items were nice while others were poorly prepared. Our best meal by far was the "specialty" restaurant's evening meal in La Veranda. All lunches were buffets. A phone call to reception complaining about the air conditioning and lack of hot water in our cabin resulted in both repairmen showing up in 5 minutes. Impressive indeed. The plumber replaced the shower temperature unit and all was right. The AC fellow's probe measured the room at 21.8C (71.24F). Tolerance was 21 to 23 (69.8-74.3 fahrenheit). Tough luck for us getting our room any cooler. Fortunately our travel agent had put together a pre/post cruise hotel package that included less expensive and better Air France flights than the cruise line's included arrangements with Air Tahiti Nui. Moorea's Sofitel had world class snorkeling which was the highlight of our entire trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Price point for service/experience provided does not match. Destination (Polynesia) outstanding. Ship experience did not measure up, not a luxury experience. PG had better hope it does not get much competition in this location. ... Read More
Price point for service/experience provided does not match. Destination (Polynesia) outstanding. Ship experience did not measure up, not a luxury experience. PG had better hope it does not get much competition in this location. Itinerary included a trip to the Marquesas - the entire trip was focused on filming an advertising promotion. No excursions one day for the passengers, due to 'rough seas' - however excursion filming proceeded for the advertising crew and 'models.' Talk about a disconnect. No real suggestions for excursions outside the ship's arranged excursions - not a way to promote customer goodwill. Especially at a so-called luxury cruise line. We found - on our own - much better priced local excursions although would have been better for the cruise line to make simple suggestions. This means having to research locations / excursions on your own in advance of the cruise. Again, outside of destination I would not recommend PG. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I will start with this was the worst vacation i ever went on.From the time we got onto boat.First we went up to lunch,what a joke,my buffet in florida blew away 95% food served on this boat.very sad with the money we spent.Lets start with ... Read More
I will start with this was the worst vacation i ever went on.From the time we got onto boat.First we went up to lunch,what a joke,my buffet in florida blew away 95% food served on this boat.very sad with the money we spent.Lets start with a outdated ship,the food rating from 1-10 was 3.For the money we spent,the most ever spent and was to be a trip of a live time.Not even close.upper deck chairs were the worst.Entertainment was a joke.They dont tell you about the Marquesas that their are NO swimmable beaches in the Marquesas islands.Front desk said we should of known that when booking trip.That is total BS.Over 14,000.00 spent and you charge for wifi.How can you have 4-8 drinks and not even get a buzz,we drank so called kettle one.10 days on boat before we got back to Bora Bora to go swimming.on 13 day of cruise we went to a hotel in Moorea and had best lunch/food in 13 days.We should have that on ship breakfest/lunch/dinner.I spoke with VP Sandy Stevens she did not care about our complaints and said that she will do nothing for us and social media does not matter do what you have to.So i will.She needs to go onto the viking star and see how a ship needs to be run,and what real food looks like.We will never cruise Paul Gauguin.I hope this save some people from making the same 14,000.00 mistake we did. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We picked this cruise line and itinerary because we needed to go during the summer, and wanted to go to the south pacific (only 2 cruise lines do this in the summer). Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Also, we brought along our ... Read More
We picked this cruise line and itinerary because we needed to go during the summer, and wanted to go to the south pacific (only 2 cruise lines do this in the summer). Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Also, we brought along our 13-yr old daughter for an adventure of a lifetime. Flight Is included from Los Angeles to Tahiti in cruise fare. Air Tahiti Nui, 2x5x2 configuration. Comfortable, with modern in-seat entertainment system, better than major domestic carriers (UA, AA). Food was excellent or terrible… hit and miss. Free drinks including mini-champagne bottles. Tahiti airport is tiny! One baggage claim, etc. Hotel We elected to spend a couple nights before cruise in Tahiti at the Intercontinental, did the package deal. Transfer from airport to hotel was uneventful, agent waiting for us to take us to the bus (air conditioned). Check in uneventful, but recommendation: ask about your view! It was 10pm local time when we checked in for a lagoon-view room, so we could not see our view. We were disappointed in the morning to see that our primary view was of the buildings and parking, not really the lagoon. I felt like we got a “left over” room... :( (I attached photo). I could have complained then, but we only had that day to spend at the hotel, so it was not worth my time to go complain. Any of the pool/lagoon view rooms would be fine. Nice pool, makes you feel like you are really on vacation. Lagoonarium wowed us until we went snorkeling around the islands. Sat am we had to check out at 11am, but couldn’t go to ship until 3pm…so dead time, I guess we could have swam, or taken a taxi to the market and back in time for lunch (which is included)… but would have been nice if they coordinated timing and offered “market with lunch” shuttles, etc that we figured out AFTER 1pm. Hotel staff did not volunteer this info to us, we learned from other guests. Overall, nice, but expensive way to adjust to the local time zone. Cruise Embarkation - Bus picked us up from hotel just in time to check in at ship. They have this coordinated very well! Waited in AC bus til the tent line diminished, and then breezed through to ship, to elevator, to theater lounge, where we were checked in, photographed, and given id cards in less than 10 minutes. Total time from hotel to our ship room, about 45 minutes! We were escorted to our room immediately, shown around. Our luggage was waiting in our room. Nice so that we can unpack immediately. Then went to make dinner reservations, and were checking out the ship by 4pm. Disembarkation – we have to put our luggage out the night before (like most cruises), and leave our carryons with us. We did have time after we got off the ship to id our luggage, and put some toiletries into our bags before they were taken to the airport for us. Very smooth process. Bus was waiting for us for the airport. We realized that the majority of people on the flight from LA to Papeete were doing the same exact itinerary as us, so you will get to know those folks! And we were able to say our good byes on the 8 hour flight returning from Tahiti to LAX. Meals/drinks Drinks are included in the cruise price. Drinks of the day, daily, yum! The staff started remembering our favorites by day 2 – wow! I couldn’t even remember their names! Breakfast – room service (early to ontime every time), restaurants – mixed buffet/service. Nice variety. Eggs benedict to toast and jam. Lunch (after our morning snorkel excursions) – we ate in the French (but not French food at lunch) and Tahitian restaurants (but not Tahitian food at lunch). Buffet/service combo. Salads, to fresh pasta, to burgers/pizza, to local specialties like tuna cru. Dinner – 3 dining choices, 2 of which need reservations. Main dining room was just as good as the others. Food was presented very attractively, very French style. Very attentive service from staff. I mentioned casually of my lactose intolerance the first night at dinner. Next thing I know, specially assigned staff provided me the next night’s menu (regardless of where I planned to dine, they KNEW somehow!), and I would select menu items that the chef would ensure were prepared without dairy for me. That’s service! Without reservations, we never had to wait for a table, we typically went between 6:30-7:30pm to dinner. Summer dresses, nice slacks/tops, would be fine for all 3 venues. Bring a pareo/scarf/etc for multitasking in chilly rooms/lounges. Men – my hubby wore “Hawaiian” shirts (any buttoned shirt) and slacks (dockers) every day, and was fine. Entertainment We attended the evening show after dinner most evenings. Note they start late: 9:30pm, and we were up and out of our room most mornings by 7:30am to do snorkeling, so long days! Some activities throughout the day, most without huge turnouts, sometimes just a couple of people. Minimal activities, if any between 4:30 and 6pm. Happy hour? Again, drinks free, and freeflowing. Kids/Cousteau program – no activities geared just for kids outside of the Cousteau program. We originally were thinking of having our 13-yr-old daughter do this, but when we went to register on day2, we saw that the average age/gender of kids was 10 and boys, even though target was 9-17. Most of the activities overlapped with excursions, so we skipped the program. Excursions We did not reserve any before the start of the cruise. Most times we were fine signing up 2 days in advance. Day before had limited choices as excursions for the next day were filling up. We did get lucky and reserve (in the am) a same-day (afternoon) excursion once. Most days we went snorkeling. Tahaa, private motu had plenty of self-guided snorkeling, so just did that. Stingray/shark encounter was fabulous and even doable for non-swimmers in 3-4 feet of water. Dolphin/whale watching was amazing, even saw tiger sharks, sea turtles, and advanced surfers. Service Excellent – friendly, willing to help. Wow! I could get used to this lifestyle! By the way, we did the laundry package for $60 pp. Package said that it would be next day service, but if we submitted by 9am, we always got back same day by about 4pm. If I had known this, I would have brought only 3 dresses, and 2 swimsuits (I brought 5 dresses and 3 swimsuits for 12 days). Ship I had read some reviews that claimed the ship was in poor shape, I did not experience this. I have been on Princess and Celebrity ships that were just 2 years old, and in the same shape as this ship. This ship looked like it was well maintained. Our room was very well maintained. My understanding is that the ship is scheduled for dry dock remodel next year – please check. Cabin We had room 738, middle of the ship, category C. Not more than 1 min walk to either elevator. And just below “deck chairs?” – 6am most mornings…but next door neighbor did not hear them. Room itself was very nice, rich wood interior, LOTS of storage space. Our suitcases fit under the bed. We each had a small closet, plenty of drawers, shelving to put everything in its place for 3 of us. Bathroom also had plenty of storage, I was pleasantly surprised. Only one outlet in the bathroom though, for shavers only. We had queen bed set up, with the armchair converted into a pullout single bed. Cozy, but doable for 3 of us. Overall Was it worth the PG price? Yyyyeeeessss, for a once in a lifetime adventure to be treated luxuriously, spoiled, and snorkel daily. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Fabulous experience. Took a one week cruise from Tahiti to Tahiti through the Society Islands and loved every minute of it. Love that the cost is all inclusive so drinks, either alcoholic or soft drinks are included. Great crew. Wait staff ... Read More
Fabulous experience. Took a one week cruise from Tahiti to Tahiti through the Society Islands and loved every minute of it. Love that the cost is all inclusive so drinks, either alcoholic or soft drinks are included. Great crew. Wait staff is primarily from the Philippines and the captain, first mate, etc from Croatia. Could not have better service. Excellent cuisine. We particularly enjoyed the main dining room but also enjoyed the restaurant on the lido deck. My daughter fell ill one day and the medical staff were equally terrific. The cabins are about what you expect. Nicely appointed, small, nice amenities. The lectures were excellent. We didn't partake of the evening entertainment which is typical "cruise ship" fare. Instead, after dinner we headed to the back deck for cocktails, conversation and dancing. This is a perfect cruise for honeymooners or babymooners btw. As to our stops, we loved them all but Bora Bora and Moorea were over the top wonderful. Don't miss the mutu on Bora Bora. We ventured out there the first morning of our 2 day stay and, hardly any other passengers were there. We felt as if we were on our own private island. I don't know if it is because we spend the day on the motu at Tahaha the day before or the fact that there were no facilities on Bora Bora but, we considered ourselves blessed. Also included in your fare is unlimited use of the water toys - kayaks, paddle boards and snorkel gear. We're not much for taking organized excursions so we rented our own car on Bora Bora and explored the island. They have an electric car that's quite cool. It's one seat wide with the other seat behind it and half the price of a regular vehicle. Friends of ours rented that which we didn't discover until we returned our "regular" car. If I had known, I would have gone for the electric. Do take time to spend pre or post cruise in Tahiti. We spent our last night in an over the water bungaloo at Le Meridian and it was just fantastic. Overall: I have always wanted to go to French Polynesia/Tahiti and all I can say is that it is even better than you think it might be. It's only 3 hours further than Hawaii and is way less crowded, the people are wonderful and the French influence is everywhere but primarily in great cuisine. Next time you're thinking of headed to Hawaii, think about Tahiti. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Worst trip ever.Let me start with the staff was 100%.We saved for two years14,0000.00 plus travel, and expected the best food and beaches every day.They dont tell you that their are no swimable beaches in Marquesas islands.We left with ... Read More
Worst trip ever.Let me start with the staff was 100%.We saved for two years14,0000.00 plus travel, and expected the best food and beaches every day.They dont tell you that their are no swimable beaches in Marquesas islands.We left with 40-50 mph winds.People were sick for days,they should have stayed in Bora Bora area,we got to Marquesas and canceled all trips.We did not go swimming on beach until the 10 day of trip.The back of ship opened 2 times.The ship is out dated,food was disgusting,fly all over food on upper deck,drinks are watered down,tenders were very unsafe getting on and off.We went on the 13 day to intercontental hotel in Moorea and had the best food of the whole trip,very disapointing .We will never cruise Paul Gauguin again.Spoke with VP Sandy Stevens and she offered nothing to us and told us social media does not matter.I will posting pictures of our trip on youtube and outher pictures.GOOD VP Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
My husband and I sailed on the Paul Gauguin for 14 magical days in June/July of this year. This was our third Paul Gauguin cruise, but definitely will not be our last. We have traveled all over the world, and this was by far the best ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Paul Gauguin for 14 magical days in June/July of this year. This was our third Paul Gauguin cruise, but definitely will not be our last. We have traveled all over the world, and this was by far the best vacation experience ever. Our balcony cabin was luxurious, clean and comfortable. It is so nice to sleep with the balcony door open at night and hear the sound of the ocean. The food and the wait staff were simply amazing. Shout out to our head waiter Ryan and his assistant Ivan! Their impeccable service was enough to make us want to cruise again with Paul Gauguin. The shore excursions were well orchestrated, and even though it was tricky getting on and off the tender in the Marquesas, there were always 4-6 strong men always there to help each passenger on and off. Every shore excursion in the South Pacific is amazing. We particularly enjoyed the hikes with Polynesian Anthropolist Mark Eddowes. The accomodations and service on the Paul Gauguin are incomparable. From the time we boarded the ship to the time we departed our every need was anticipated and met. The onboard lecturers provided wonderful information about the places we visited, which made the experience even more meaningful. A Paul Gauguin cruise may seem pricey to most people, but if you travel to this area of the world and stay in a hotel, I can almost guarantee the cost of your hotel, transfers, car rentals, alcohol, shore excursions, etc., will be more than the cost of a Paul Gauguin cruise, and not nearly as enjoyable. I urge everyone to check it out, it is worth every penny! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Tahiti and the PG have been a bucket list trip since we got married 18 years ago. Finally decided to go and brought the kids (15 and 13 yo) as the Ambassador of the Environment program was being offered and Jean Michel Cousteau was ... Read More
Tahiti and the PG have been a bucket list trip since we got married 18 years ago. Finally decided to go and brought the kids (15 and 13 yo) as the Ambassador of the Environment program was being offered and Jean Michel Cousteau was onboard. PG and Air Tahiti Nui went above and beyond to get our delayed luggage from...wait for it...shocker, American Airlines. Had they not gone out of their way it would have been a sad cruise for the family! Check in was non eventful and fast! Have read several reviews that said embarkation and disembarkation was a nightmare. Absolutely incorrect! Speedy, organized, and very helpful staff. Cabins were terrific. Stayed on deck 7 with a balcony and a cabin on deck 4 with a large window. If u can splurge for the balcony...do it! So wonderful to wake up and look out as you arrive at a new island everyday whilst having room service breakfast! Beds were very comfortable, American and European plugs available. We brought a small, compact power strip and didn't even use it. Amenities in the bathrooms were great (L'Occitane products) and were replaced as needed. Hair dryers available too. Food was amazing! Le Grill for lunch had a different buffet theme everyday or you could order from their menu. We only did L'Etoile for dinner as no reservations were required and we enjoyed the fact that their menu changed daily. Never a problem to get a table for four...or you could dine with other travelers if u wished. Drinks, wine, sodas galore! Pool bar offered a daily drink that was lovely. Service was extremely attentive and personalized. The staff knew your name by day 2. For example, Anthony at La Palette (bar on deck 8) would great me everyday with my Pinot Grigio as my husband and I sat to watch us sail away to our next island. Excursions were amazing. Don't miss out and book through the ship. Tender service from the ship to shore was organized and prompt. Jet ski around Bora Bora...incredible. On Fakarava, rent bikes and go for a ride to a secluded beach. On Rangiroa go visit the pearl farm. And don't miss the day on Tahaa'a! If you have kids please sign them up for the ambassador program! They learned so much from the 2 naturalists on board and went on many excursions with them. Parents were allowed to go with so we took advantage of this and met lovely families. Kids have other activities planned for them on the ship but are not obligated to go. Well worth the $ we spent to sign them up! Evening entertainment was terrific. Magician, singer, Polynesian dancers, show put on by some of the crew...hilarious! We only skipped one night as we were too exhausted to stay awake! We cannot say enough good things about the PG. A once in a lifetime trip! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We spent three nights prior to the cruise in Moorea and took the 3 PM Arameti ferry to Papeete along with several other cruisers. It was a short walk (800 feet maybe) from where we reclaimed our baggage to the end of the PG dock. Two ... Read More
We spent three nights prior to the cruise in Moorea and took the 3 PM Arameti ferry to Papeete along with several other cruisers. It was a short walk (800 feet maybe) from where we reclaimed our baggage to the end of the PG dock. Two porters quickly joined us to take our luggage. We had changed cabins (upsell) after our luggage tags were mailed, but updated tags were quickly provided. We walked to the ship and were welcomed and guided to checkin in the lounge on deck 5. Quick and easy - passport, credit card swipe, and photo - no lines. We were then escorted to our cabin on deck 7 and arrived just after our luggage. The cruise itself was exceptional. Although we are experienced cruisers having taken 14, mostly with Celebrity, this was our first (very) small ship cruise. The staff was exceptional with many remembering your name after the first meeting. Our cabin on deck seven was delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed having a balcony. The cabin attendant kept the room sparkling and our refrigerator stocked with our favorites. Dining staff was quite attentive and quickly learned our preferences. We had no trouble obtaining a table for two (or more if wanted) and although not assigned a table were generally seated in the same area. The waiters quickly learned our preferences and had it at the table as we arrived. As others have reported the Gauguines, although small in number, are everywhere serving as hosts, at the tender landing to assist in boarding, etc. The assistant cruise director was an upbeat fun person from France who mingled with all the passengers. The CD generally introduced the shows and little else. Age range was all over (10-80) with several newlyweds and many older couples doing vow renewals. Since this was a cruise with Jean-Michel Cousteau onboard there were extensive activities and two "guides" for the kids who really seemed to enjoy the interaction often preferring to go with "their" group instead of mom and dad. Costeau's presentations along with one from Mark Eddowes were excellent. There are, however, several differences from a larger ship. The biggest being it moves a lot more. Thus the port order may change if there is bad weather forecast. On our cruise a low developed over Moorea and we spent an extra day in Bora Bora after Taha'a since that harbor was more protected. Please note that you tender to every island except Tahiti and the landing on the private motu may be a very "wet" one - above the knees high and unexpected by some vertically challenged guests. On board entertainment venues are very limited and there is one show at 9:30 or 10:00. You get to know your fellow passengers quite well. Not sure that I would want to spend several sea days onboard, although the library looked interesting. There are three choices for dining - main dining room in Etoile (no reservations), French dining in La Veranda (reservation required) and a grill, Le Grille (reservations required). There was never a wait for dining in the main dining room at 6:30 - 7:00. Reservations were generally available with a day or two advanced notice. The food was very good. I personally preferred the main dining room as the menu changed nightly and had a great variety. Breakfast and lunch were available in La Veranda and Le Grille. Buffet style and order off the menu in both locations. Lamb chops were available for breakfast. We were particularly impressed by the staff and their attention to detail. Our prebooked tour tickets were in our room on arrival with two exceptions. We had a note from the travel desk to check with them. Fearing they had been cancelled, we were pleasantly surprised when they asked us to review them as they had very similar stops. Can't say enough about the dining room staff especially maitre d's Raffy and Christian and their team. We did a combination of ship and private tours: Moorea - Moorea Miti Tours - a great small group snorkeling excursion with no more than 12 people. Tour departs early so you beat the crowds and wave runners to the stingray site. The boat was so easy to reenter after snorkeling or lunch, which by the way was quite tasty eaten while sitting at a table with our feet in the water. Olivia and Romain are great hosts and operators who obviously enjoy their venture. Although we were at the Hilton before the cruise, we stopped at the tender pier for two guests from the Paul Gauguin. Huahine - Huahine Nautiqe - A land tour to see multiple sites followed by an outrigger canoe ride, drift snorkel, lunch on a motu and return to the dock. Absolutely outstanding land tour, snorkeling and lunch with lots of fun times. Bora Bora - Day 1 - Pure snorkeling. Outstanding small boat - 6 people - tour with four snorkeling stops with Fabien. Absolutely gorgeous sites. Day 2 - Maohi Nui ship tour. Good snorkeling with three stops and 10 people. Since our departure was changed from 1700 to 1200 it was nice to be on a ship sponsored excursion as we caught the last tender to the ship. Rangiroa - Gauguin Pearl Farm ship's tour. Nice tour of a pearl farm on a Sunday when most other businesses were closed. Excellent explanation of pearl farming with nice selection to buy afterwards. No pressure to purchase. Fakarava - Walked around town parallel to the coast originally planning to snorkel off the local beach, but there were numerous sharks and we weren't sure they were the friendly types used to tourists that we swam with before. We also learned of a large tidal pool with lots of interesting critters that was accessible if you walked perpendicular to the coast for about two blocks from the tender landing (the island isn't very wide). Friends raved about Ato's tour - next time. Bora Bora - Day 3 (returned due to weather). Island tour with Le Truck ship's tour. Since both earlier days in BB had been devoted to snorkeling (and it being out of the question due to weather), this was an excellent three hour tour with multiple stops including Mama Edna's and Bloody Mary's. Moorea - Since we had spent three days before the cruise on Moorea, we were not disappointed in spending the scheduled first day in Bora Bora. On the second day we visited the shops on the pier, packed and relaxed before the trip home. Tahiti – Had a great tour with Tracey (Unique Tahiti Tours) exploring the west coast of the island and part of Tahiti Iti in her spacious Mercedes van. Not only did we tour, but her commentary provided a lot of info about the island and FP in general. Overnight at the Intercontinental. Not to the same standard as the Moorea Hilton, but nice for a night. We were glad we had pre-booked with the concierge a taxi for our early morning (Air France) departure as there we none in the taxi queue. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was a wonderful cruise. My husband, self and three children 17,19, 21 loved every minute of this cruise. We have cruise the Meditteran and Asia and this was the best. The ship was top notch with superb service and anything you ... Read More
This was a wonderful cruise. My husband, self and three children 17,19, 21 loved every minute of this cruise. We have cruise the Meditteran and Asia and this was the best. The ship was top notch with superb service and anything you could want. This cruise is an active cruise which we loved. Everyday you were snorkeling, scuba diving with sharks, stingrays, and millions of fish. We had been in Australia before and scuba dived and snorkeled from Cairns and this was just as good and even better because here we swam with the sharks and stingrays. There was 4 x 4 tours of the islands we stopped at, or jet skiing, ATVing, shopping etc. We did it all. The private Island was wonderful and even though we only had really two sunny days the rainy mist didn't dampen anything. We still had a wonderful time. The meals and food was excellent. You never wanted for anything. The staff were all so helpful and knowledgeable. The cleaning staff superior. This is definitely a trip every should do from young to old. We had 80's year olds on our 4 x 4 trip and they loved it. Only negative I would have to say is that the nightly entertainment was at 9:30 pm and we were always to tied to make it down for it. Would have love it around 8:30 would have been perfect. We ended up watching an in room movie most nights and sleeping early for the exciting next day. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I’ve traveled twice with the M/S Paul Gauguin, and in my experiences it has been a world apart. That’s its strength and its weakness. When it comes to Tahiti and the Society Islands, PG has a legendary reputation and nearly a cult ... Read More
I’ve traveled twice with the M/S Paul Gauguin, and in my experiences it has been a world apart. That’s its strength and its weakness. When it comes to Tahiti and the Society Islands, PG has a legendary reputation and nearly a cult following for the quality of the experience it provides. As evidence of this, more than half the travelers on my recent cruise were “repeaters.” PG’s Tahiti reputation is hard earned and well deserved on several fronts. As a floating restaurant, PG mixes quality, style, elegance, and informality into a unique brew. There is an endless variety of food, the option to order “off menu” at every meal, and choices for restaurants — all at no extra charge. No matter what dining option you choose, the wait staff is attentive, enthusiastic, and responsive to your needs. This is not to say the food service couldn’t be tweaked. For example, I don’t really need Mexican, Italian, or America-themed lunch buffets. I’m in the South Pacific for heaven’s sake. How about local-themed buffets every day? As a hotel, the service excels at every level. When calling Reception for assistance with everything from an uncooperative safe to the services of a tailor to a need for an extension cord, I never waited more than five minutes to have a person at my door. As with any hotel, there are some glitches like the lingering smell of mildew in some of the cabin corridors or the inability to get air conditioning to work consistently — or at all — in some cabins. In all of these areas the staff is more than willing to do everything they can to ensure your satisfaction. With PG you are in a world apart and they brings their full attention to every aspect of your food and lodging. Unfortunately, PG does not do a very good job of connecting with the world beyond Tahiti. When PG steps outside its geographic sphere of familiarity, it stumbles. This is true in matters both small and great. And it has been true for me twice. For example, on my recent cruise we went to Vanuatu, Guadalcanal, Papua New Guinea, and Cairns. Nonetheless, the ship’s program ran as if we were in Tahiti. The ship offered language lessons in Tahitian and French even though no locals within a thousand miles of our itinerary spoke those languages. How hard would it have been to have classes teach a few words in the dialects of the people we visited? We also had the opportunity to learn how to tie — pareos which no one in the area wears — and to buy postcards picturing Tahiti. How hard would it have been to stock some more relevant postcards in the Boutique? We were traveling through an area rich in World War II history, but were treated to lectures about Paul Gauguin. Don’t get me wrong, these lectures were great. If we had been in Tahiti, they would have been phenomenal, but we were in Papua New Guinea. Of course, there were wonderful — and on point lectures— by Cousteau, and a guest was allowed to give an impromptu lecture on Guadalcanal, but there had been no advance effort to connect the ship’s lectures to its itinerary. A further disappointment was the replacement of the promised anthropologist with some combination of a magician and a performance artist. These acts would have been better left in third-tier Vegas lounges. Though this lack of effort to intersect with a world beyond Tahiti was merely somewhat odd in most cases, in others it was a major problem. The ship’s programs are well-honed for PG’s standard itineraries, but there didn’t seem to have been any inclination to connect to what was a new world for it to travel through. For example, when traveling in the Society Islands, the ship will exchange money for its guests. This was not done — except after vociferous complaint, and then only for a few stops — on this trip. Surely the need for local currency could have been anticipated. As a result, passengers were often in situations where their money was not accepted and where there were no ATMs or banks. The saddest thing about this was the local craftspeople who went without sales. Perhaps the worst of the failures concerned shore excursions. The port talks were abysmal. There was no more information or accuracy from the presenter — and frequently there was much less — than a person could get on the web. I can understand, I suppose, that the person in charge of shore excursions hadn’t been to the particular ports we visited. But I can’t understand not doing a better job of learning about them. For example, people would ask, “Is there good snorkeling nearby?” or, “Are US dollars accepted?” or, “What’s the shopping like?” In all cases, the answer was some variation of “I don’t know?” The shore excursions themselves were poorly researched, uneven at best, and flat out unsafe at worst. Even if the ship hadn’t been to these ports previously, surely there are experts who could have informed the planning. Excursions took guests to swimming holes at low tide when they were closed, to a museum that wasn’t open, to a promised three-hour walking tour with snack that lasted 25 minutes without a snack, and to a snorkeling experience that was an exercise in staying alive in the water. PG was responsive to most of the shortcomings and refunded all or a portion of the cost for some of the most egregious excursions, but people who are paying a premium for a cruise should not be expected to serve as guinea pigs. Finally, there was great unhappiness among many of the divers on board. For a host of reasons, many who had traveled thousands of miles just to dive were unable to sign up because all the spots were taken. This was not because people were late in trying to sign up. It was because all the spots were taken before everyone had even been processed for embarkation and allowed to sign up. Again, the staff did what it could to open more spots, but they should have known in advance that the large number of divers on board would not be compatible with the limited spots available. To be fair, I have to add that this trip included the most remarkable shore excursion I’ve ever taken. We were the first cruise ship to visit Bougainville in decades and we received a carnival celebration of a welcome. Wave after wave of dancers surrounded us and invited us into their community. We were literally immersed in an unaffected local culture. The last matter of concern for me was the itinerary. It changed at the last minute and Port Moresby was substituted for Rabaul. Port Moresby is a town that virtually no cruise ships or tourists go to because of concerns about violence and instability. Guests on the Port Moresby excursion weren’t even allowed to get off the tour buses at the main viewpoint because it was judged unsafe. In addition, we stayed in Port Moresby for far longer than any other port. We were also told not to get off the ship after dark. We were informed that this itinerary change was because of the ship’s need to refuel. Really? It wasn’t possible to figure this out before advertising a much more attractive port stop? I’d suggest that radical changes in itinerary such as this be accompanied by an option to cancel reservations at no charge. Finally, you can trust PG to provide full value for your lodging and dining dollars, but their charges for pre/post lodging and transfers were at least 30% higher than it was possible to book independently. The bottom line for me is that if I travel with PG again — and I would like to — I would only book an established itinerary that the ship has traveled multiple times over many years. When PG tries to go outside its comfort zone, passengers can become most uncomfortable. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
An altogether pleasant vacation experience. This ship is small, that is why we selected her. Her ports of call (except St.Kitts) were devoid of any large cruise ships. On all, but one day we anchored, and tendered into shore to small ... Read More
An altogether pleasant vacation experience. This ship is small, that is why we selected her. Her ports of call (except St.Kitts) were devoid of any large cruise ships. On all, but one day we anchored, and tendered into shore to small port towns. Our company in the bays, were yachts of all kinds, from all over the world. There were sufficient cruise sponsored shore excursions, if you did not want to just strike out on your own. They were on a par price wise with other cruise ships for duration, and activities. Service was uniformly excellent, and responsive. Menus were never posted for meals. Breakfast was the same each day, with the usual selections that you would expect, lunches were themed, with the menu items offered based on the theme (asian, mexican, italian, beach BBQ, etc.) and extremely varied and tasty. Dinner was served (as the other meals were buffet style), and everything on the menus (which varied each night) was superb. There was no "lobster night" for reasons (sustainability) which were explained. All sea food was fresh, and local, and the meat dishes were of the highest quality. Liquor was available at your whim, at no additional cost, and included wines were good, but not of wine snob quality. The "PianoMan" was the the entertainment on the ship, and he was versatile, and talented, and had us singing songs with the teen passengers till late in the night. The ship is the former Le Levant, built in 1999. She shows wear appropriate for her age, but has been maintained well, and completely refurbished inside. She has a shallow draft, and even with four stabilizers will roll a bit in seas--like any yacht. If you are prone to motion sickness stick with the floating hotels, but you will never see these islands! Improvements that could be made 1) A few more staff to service cabins, 2) Hamburgers, and hot dogs available everyday, and on the room service menu, 3) upgrading(moving)the embarkation/disembarkationport, 4) sorting out the boarding process. It was not well organized, and if you got to the port area they would not let you in before the appointed 3:00. I did have the opportunity to visit the Doctor for treatment of a pre-cruise broken toe. Dr. Vasili was a pleasant, competent man who showed me the proper way to splint my broken digit, which reduced the pain, and gave me much more mobility. This is a good cruise to take a group on, as you will have a built in circle of friends, and can add more if you find other passengers who are compatible. All in all a different and enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We booked a cruise on the Paul Gauguin which included a three night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tahiti prior to the cruise and a day room there the day of disembarkation. At the last minute, we were joined by another couple on ... Read More
We booked a cruise on the Paul Gauguin which included a three night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tahiti prior to the cruise and a day room there the day of disembarkation. At the last minute, we were joined by another couple on the cruise portion of the package. First, let me say that the Intercontinental Hotel in Tahiti is a beautiful facility, with plenty of lounge chairs and towels, several pools, and a closed lagoon area for snorkeling. The rooms were clean and comfortable. We had some issues with service, but management went the extra mile to correct and make right any issues we experienced, so kudos to them. We would stay there again. On to the cruise. Our wait to board was non existent, with embarkation a simple walk on, get your ID, and then we were led to our room by one of the stewardesses. Our bags were already there. This was only a portent of the wonderful treatment to come. This cruise was absolutely, without a doubt, the A # 1, first class cruise we expected. In fact, it exceeded our expectations. The meals were exceptional dining experiences, and, we ate in the " no reservations" restaurant most nights. We made reservations in the La Veranda French restaurant one night, and the food there was also perfectly done. This restaurant was patterned after the Michelin Two Star restaurant of the same name, and it lived up to the same rating. The wine selections at dinner were very nice, and the wait staff was very accommodating to special requests. Even the breakfast and lunch dining options were special. In addition to the buffets offered, there were also menu items for those who weren't buffet fans. If you decided on the buffet, they wouldn't even let you carry your plate to the table. Once you selected your food and filled your plate, a waiter magically appeared at your elbow, asking to take your plate to the table for you. A little disconcerting at first, but a nice touch. And, if you ordered an omelet or custom pasta at lunch, they took your order, then had it delivered when it was done. There was no charge for any of the drinks that anyone in our party ordered, and we were drinking top shelf liquors, including Gran Marnier, and Dewars. Although the brochures for the cruise stated that there might be an up charge for some drinks, I can't imagine what those would be. I noticed that they freely poured other top shelf liquors such as Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. The fruity drinks that most cruises and resorts charge $15 for we're plentiful and tasty. The service throughout the ship was OUTSTANDING! From the wait staff in the dining room, to the drink service by the pool, to the bartenders or drink service at the numerous events and parties, the waiters alway had cold drinks and warm smiles. The room stewardesses, or as my wife refers to them, housekeeping fairies, did an excellent job while remaining seemingly invisible. I don't know how many times each day our young lady, Teresa, came through, but the room was always immaculate. The evenings included a turndown service and a quality chocolate on each pillow. Ahhhh! The entertainment on board was also top notch. Dan the Piano man kept us entertained, whether it was during an after dinner drink, or hosting a Name That Tune quiz / contest, his kind demeanor and light hearted banter made everyone feel at home. There was also a house band, Santa Rosa, that did a great job of providing dance music for parties and events. The nightly shows in the main theater were entertaining, informative, and amusing, sometimes all at once. The Gauguin brought in local dance troupes and cultural groups from the different islands, and they were very entertaining. In addition, and separate from the entertainment groups, they brought in expert speakers who were very engaging in their fields. The two that we attended were "Spinner Dolphins and the Whales of Tahiti" and the "True Story of the HMS Bounty" were both fascinating. Also on board, there were games and activities hosted by their hospitality team, the Les Gauguines, which included several lovely young Polynesian ladies, and one young Polynesian man. There was something for everyone. We participated, collectively, in several activities, including trivia contests, jewelry making classes, a Polynesian language class, ukelele lessons, and others I'm sure I've forgotten. The Gauguines were multi talented, intelligent, graceful and engaging. Included at no extra charge are trips to the Gauguins Private Motu off Bora Bora, where you can sun, snorkel, swim, and eat a BBQ lunch and drink your fill; and to a less appointed motu just off Moorea (only drinks available), but with great snorkeling. There was also kayaking off the Marina deck pretty much any time we were at anchor. We stopped at several islands, snorkeled, swam and shopped. We also did some excursions (extra charge) including tours, a helmet dive, and dinner at Bloody Mary's on Bora Bora. This cruise was stellar right to the end. We had to be out of our stateroom by 9:30am, but the pool bar was open early and a full lunch was served, starting at 11:00am. Our disembark time was 12:20pm, and there was a free three hour tour of Tahiti, if you wanted to go, rather than go directly to the hotel, where our day rooms wouldn't be ready until 3 pm. We thought it would be a sales type trip, but were we wrong. It was an excellent tour! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, and told us much of the history of Tahiti. We went to a spectacular waterfall; to the house which belonged to the author of Mutiny on the Bounty; toured the coastline; and stopped at a historic lighthouse constructed in the 1867. And thanks to our longtime travel agent, Linda Herron, from Cruises Etc, out of the Cleveland area, for putting together another stellar vacation experience for us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Let me start by saying, I cannot wait to book another cruise aboard the MS Paul Gauguin. The boat, service, ports of call, and atmosphere were everything I hoped they would be and so much more. My group consisted of myself and husband ... Read More
Let me start by saying, I cannot wait to book another cruise aboard the MS Paul Gauguin. The boat, service, ports of call, and atmosphere were everything I hoped they would be and so much more. My group consisted of myself and husband (late twenties) my mother (early 50's) and a family friend (thirty something). We have all done many cruises across various cruise lines and prefer hotels such as Fairmont, Le Meridien, Intercontinental, etc.-- Just to give you an idea of who is writing this review. Embarkation: After going on many of the larger, mainstream, cruises, the embarkation process was such a pleasant experience. A first word of advice: do NOT arrive before 3pm to the pier in Papeete. You will NOT be getting on early and you will be standing out in the sun. However, once you board, the crew is waiting happily to take your hand luggage and replace it with a sparkling glass of cold champagne. Hindsight shows that this event would set the tone for the cruise to come. Ports of Call: Raiatea We absolutely loved all of the ports on PG. The first day in Raiatea, the winds were very strong and we ended up with a cancelled excursion to Tahaa. Given that it was a Sunday, there were no shops open other than a local grocery store. Paul Gauguin's excursion desk was wonderfully accommodating and helped my party of 4 find a similar excursion to The Pearl Farm. Ultimately, I'm sure we liked it better than the other option. The only thing I do not understand is why PG would dock in a town that had nothing open (Sunday) to accommodate the tourists. The very next day, we arrive at the Paul Gauguin private island, Motu Mahana. It seems they would happily switch the days of Motu Mahana and Raiatea in order to help the local economy and to cater the their guests a bit more. Motu Mahana: What a gorgeous island! You can walk the entire way around the little island, it is well kept, beautiful and full of life. The Gauguin crew makes a delicious beach bbq lunch, and by that point, we had made friends with a boat bartender, Elmo. He found us as soon as we arrived to Motu Mahana and handed us our drink of choice, inside of a fresh coconut with a gorgeous flower. The service he, and others, provided was impeccable and unmatched to this time... and I'm not a cruise newbie. Make sure you bring water socks though, as the beaches have lots of shells and coral. We are SO thankful we had them! Bora Bora: Heaven! The first day we chartered our own, un-sponsored tour in Bora Bora. I am so glad we did. It ended up with 12 people on board the outrigger and cost a total of $110 per person, which included snorkeling the coral gardens, swimming with sting rays and sharks, Lobster lunch in the water and alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks. It was for about 6 hours and circumnavigated the whole island. I highly recommend this! The next day we booked the Jet Ski Tour through PG. They dropped us off at our tour guide, Louis' building and we quickly boarded the jet skis. This trip was amazing and Louis really made the trip one of the best. He was even able to pick up a swimming sea turtle for us to take pictures with. He also took us to his house (situated between the Four Seasons and the St. Regis!) where he showed us coconut shaving, pineapple plantations, etc. I highly recommend Louis and the Jet Ski Tour! Moorea: This was a beautiful island with so much charm. The guys golfed at the Moorea Pearl Golf Club, which was beautifully groomed and had incredible elevation changes. Go hang by the pool at the Moorea Pearl Resort. My mom and I had a wonderful massage and a fabulous lunch while looking over the beautiful lagoons. The Boat: While at first I was a little disappointed with the look of the boat's lobby, that feeling quickly subsided when I realized the glitz and glamour was replaced by unparalleled service and the best food on the high seas. Our room stewardess, Kim, did a wonderful job of keeping the room clean and tidy. I wish I could take her home with us! Our group was on level 3 and level 4, neither of which had balconies. I would highly recommend these rooms, as to us, the substantial difference in price wasn't worth it. The rooms were wonderful with a full sized bath tub/shower combo and a great dressing area. The food served on the boat was GREAT. Every dinner had multiple courses of delicious options, all paired with wines from around the world. Our favorite bartender even served us in the dining room every night and kept us truly happy. Alicia at the Piano bar, Elmo and Ernesto who made my omelet every morning at Le Grill were all impeccable. I cannot say enough good things about them. OH, and did I mention the cold face towels every time you were waiting for a tender back to the ship? AMAZING! Disembarkation: I cried. Seriously, in my after lunch, wine-driven, stupor, I cried. But it was totally warranted! There were no loud speakers corralling guests to specified areas. You could hang out by the pool while sipping daiquiris and then leisurely make your way to the gangway around noon. There, the crew met you while singing "You Are My Sunshine" and strumming ukuleles and handing you a cold bottle of water for the road. I get chills thinking how great that was. The only things I would change: - Don't take the flight in that arrives at 9:55pm the night you depart on the cruise. You will miss so much of Tahiti by not getting to explore Papeete. This is a happy, populated, thriving metropolitan area, all with a down to earth, vacation-y feel. It's worth coming in early and getting an overwater bungalow. (I recommend the Le Meridien over the Intercontinental!) -Have Paul Gauguin switch Sunday in Raiatea with Monday in Motu Mahana. It would give everyone better experiences and would help the Tahitians! - The bars on the boat don't open til at least 9am. That's 1pm Houston time. You can't even get a bloody mary with breakfast! However, you can have the crew deliver champagne to your room a glass at a time. Seriously, if I'm paying for an open bar, I want it, when I want it. Period. -I would like to have stayed in Bora Bora a third night. Maybe next time! Overall this cruise was worth the money 5 times over. It is an experience like none other. Whether you have to book the cruise and pay it off for a year, or you can purchase it tomorrow and fly out on Saturday, DO IT! I can only hope my heaven is as wonderful as Tahiti. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Who are we?: We took a much deserved family trip on board the Paul Gauguin. Our group consisted of me, my husband, my sister (all mid-30s) my mother (mid-50's) and our 15 year old daughter. What sold us on this trip?: We are ... Read More
Who are we?: We took a much deserved family trip on board the Paul Gauguin. Our group consisted of me, my husband, my sister (all mid-30s) my mother (mid-50's) and our 15 year old daughter. What sold us on this trip?: We are warm weather people that live in a cold weather area. We have been to Hawaii many times, and it's become so incredibly touristy and expensive, we weren't wanting to go back. The Bahamas and Caribbean did not sound inviting. When we discovered that Tahiti is just a couple hours past Hawaii on the flight, we were sold. There is a 7 night cruise that would work nicely with our busy schedules, but we opted for a little longer cruise at 11 nights, as we haven't had a vacation in a while and really wanted to relish the time with our family and seriously unwind. When looking at hotels, the pricing was very expensive and much like Hawaii, everything you buy such as food and drinks is astronomical. But we were determined to find the best deal. When we found the Paul Gauguin and saw that everything is included (with the exception of optional tours and spa) When I saw that the fare included airfare from LAX I was floored. Pricing it out myself was a great anxiety and this made the price point much more attractive. Plus, I have never seen a cruise line that included alcohol and other beverages. It's not fun when you get to the end of your cruise, that you paid a minimal amount for and you have a ridiculous bill for your childs soda. That always makes me leave my vacation feeling icky. So the Paul Gauguin came out a clear winner. When I saw they had a kids program sponsored by the Cousteau family, that was an added bonus! Embarkation: Immediately when you step off the plane and that humid air hits you, you relax. You feel warm and satisfied that you have made the right decision by coming to Tahiti. You are greeted by flowers and music, our bags were taken and we were given chilled towels and champagne in return! And very warmly greeted by our incredible Cruise Director, Michael Shapiro and the group of hostesses on board named the Gauguines. A brief check-in and we were given our key cards that link to our account and act as ID for getting on and off the vessel. That night consisted of a welcome party and dancing. But what I liked most about it was there was no pressure to do anything but relax, have a drink and enjoy your surroundings. This set the precedent for the rest of the trip. The Ship in General: After an exploration of the ship on the first night it is easily navigable. I really liked the layout, clear direction, and the fact that the ship is large enough to feel substantial, but not so huge that you get lost. We have sailed on very small ships (100 or less guests) and very large (1000+) and this really was the perfect size at 330 guests. My husband and I were in an A Suite and everyone else had C staterooms. Both were really roomy and exquisite, with balcony and stocked fridge. Our suite was bigger then our room at home! And came complete with mini-bar and butler service. Our butler and our stewardess were so very sweet and accommodating. My husband was sea sick one evening when we hit open-ocean, and when I saw them in the hall I let them know. They rushed down to see what he needed and if there was anything they could do to make him feel better. Turns out all he needed was a Dramamine that first night, then he was fine the rest of the cruise. I do recommend taking motion sickness meds, you may need them and you may not. I felt great the whole time without them! THE FOOD!: Our first meal there was dinner and it was amazing. I had a Tahitian Wok dish with pork, sauce made from coconut milk. My husband who is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy was very happy with his steak. Then we topped it off with delicious desert and the best cappuccino I've ever had in my life (I had one every night after that!). WARNING: Do not go on this cruise with any other expectation then gaining 5+ lbs. The food here is amazing! Some of my other favorites included Chicken Stir-Fry, Greek Lamb, Beef Wellington, Lobster in Tahitian Vanilla cream sauce, and the best Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee and Cheesecake. My mom, who is diabetic even got desert every night, as there is always a sugar free option! I will also mention the drinks are included and poured freely. And we're not talking about watered down drinks and cheap wine. It was nothing but the best! They do charge for some top name brand stuff, but nothing we ever drink. Service: Don't lift a finger! When I read that there is a staff member for every 1.5 guests, I couldn't imagine what that would be like. How about awesome! I'd load up my plate at the buffet and my good friend and waiter Michael was right behind me to take it to my table. Drinks by the pool in the afternoon, don't get up, they bring them to you! Your wine glass doesn't get past half empty unless you want it to. And they all remembered each of our names, and what we liked to drink. I really felt a clear connection between the guests and the staff that I've never felt before. Usually there is a clear divide. But the staff members on this ship are all genuinely cheerful and happy to help, without the feel of them being labored. They even put on a talent show for us, which was probably my favorite show of the whole cruise. The Spa: I booked a very expensive massage that I probably shouldn't have, but I was on vacation. And let me tell you, that was the most WONDERFUL massage I have ever had in my life. If you go on this trip and make an apt., you must ask for Ivy. She also did my moms body scrub and wrap which she informed me was also heavenly. Marina: The water marina off the back of the ship is pretty cool. I haven't seen anything quite like it. We went down to get our snorkel gear that we checked out for the whole cruise. You can windsurf and kayak off the back of the ship (if the stabilizers aren't on in inclimate weather). Pretty sweet. Gym: There isn't much to the gym, it's well enough equipped for a good workout. I peeked inside but didn't bother with a workout. If you're in a place like this, why are you going to go to the gym? SCUBA Diving: I have always wanted to SCUBA but no one else in my party wanted to do it with me. Out of curiosity I went down to the dive desk the first night to chat with the dive master, Laurent. When I told him about my interest he was very excited and passionate about teaching me what he knew, we became instant friends and it didn't feel as though I was going to be alone on my adventures. We did a 2 hour class in the pool, where about 10 of us (both new divers and those who haven't dived in a while) learned the basics and had our pool time. I felt totally safe the whole time and it came pretty naturally with the help of Laurent and Thierry, the other dive master. With the completion of this class I was eligible for 2 beginner dives, Bora Bora Lagoon and Moorea Shark Dive. Dive 1 Bora Bora Lagoon: Arg! I was so nervous, this in not the pool! I let Laurent know I was feeling apprehensive and he just smiled and said to breathe (and gave the hand sign for "breathe" that we had learned in class) Assured me that with them and it was the safest thing in the world. He was right, I was silly to be nervous. There were only 3 of us on that first dive and we went in with Thierry while Laurent stayed on the surface in the dive boat as look out. Thierry was just as amazing of a guide and teacher as Laurent, patient and kind. I've heard horror stories from friends about how they learned to dive and how short and unclear their guides and instructors had been. I Thanked my lucky stars for the dive team of the Gauguin. We explored the bottom of the lagoon at 20 ft and saw so many amazing things! I couldn't believe it, I was diving, and in one of the most beautiful places on Earth! The water is warm, clear and blue, you can see everything. After about 40 minutes we surfaced, no problem. Dive 2 Moorea Shark Gallery: I'm nervous again! I'm a pro at diving but now I have to do it with sharks. I actually really love sharks and I'm not too afraid of them, I have snorkeled with them in Costa Rica. But now I'm going to have all this equipment on me at 40ft down, what if they sneak up behind me? The first thing that was said when I came onto the marina was "there is no danger in diving with the sharks here". Phew! Well I have to say the scariest part was pulling up and seeing the sharks from above the water in the boat. Once I got in the water I felt totally at ease. There were lots of sharks and other really gorgeous fish, anemone, sea stars and the most brightly colored clams. This is another world. This time I was diving with David as our guide since there were 7 of us on this one, we split into 2 groups. There was even an 8 year old boy diving with us, and he did great! I love that Gauguin Dive Team, that was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And easier then I ever would have thought. If you are thinking about diving, do it here! Youth Program: The Ambassadors of the Environment Youth program was really great and added to my daughter experience tremendously. There were other kids to hang out with and she didn't have to hang with us lame adults if she didn't want to. The program is sponsored by Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society, which made me feel better about pulling her out of school a little early. At least I knew she'd learn something! The leaders of the program were Megan and Bobbi, both are super smart and very easy to get along with. They made the kids feel right at home and got them talking to one another by playing games and doing crafts. They usually had one excursion planned a day (and it's optional for the adults to go on as well, they just pay the fee for the excursion. Either me or my sister went with her most days, as did allot of other parents.) The kids and the adult learned so much from these amazing ladies about French Polynesia above and below the water, culture, anthropology and environment, and it felt like our own little private group. This is really great if you have kids. Also they gave them certificates for completing the program, which won't hurt on my daughters college application! Shore Excursions: The Travel Concierge team on board is lovely. Our ladies were Pia, Sandy and Christina. You can book your excursion before you leave on the website, but we wanted to see shat to expect before we made any plans. The easiest thing for us, since there were 5 of us, was getting together for lunch and seeing what excursions were offered the next day. Then after lunch go down to the travel desk and book. There were never any space issues that we weren't able to book, and the girls there were incredibly helpful. Nightlife: After dark is pretty tame on board. There is always some kind of show featuring the Cruise Director and the Gauguines. Then after we usually hung out at La Pallete Lounge. The bartender knew our names and knew what we wanted by the 3rd night, and there was the most amazing bad called "Siglo" that covered everything from Journey to 80's classics. There is a small dance floor and when the band is done the DJ starts. It was the best time being able to dance the night away with my 15 year old. It has a night club feel but I didn't have to worry about sneaking her in or them serving her since they knew how old she is. There was also the Piano bar which has a very relaxing vibe. And there is a black jack tourney in the Casino every night which sounded so fun! We always planned on getting in on the action but never got around to it. Next time! Honestly, this is one of the best decisions we've made for travel plans. When we got our bill at the end of the cruise I couldn't believe that was all I spent. With everything being included and only paying for excursions and spa treatments, it was minimal. Even with 11 days, I still didn't get to fit in everything I wanted to do. So we're planning another cruise with them in 2013! Aitutaki (this port so remote it's not offered as option to pick) - This was my favorite port. It tiny and everyone is friendly. We went on a hike with the youth group to a private beach and went snorkeling. The we did the 4x4 Safari, which we visited an ancient site and learned so much about this island from our local guides. we went to the very the top of the island where you could see all the way around, breath-taking! Then we stopped and visited a small resort, had a beer and a snack and watched the most gorgeous lagoon I've ever seen. You have to do this tour! But bring bug repellent as the mosquitoes are thick in the hills. Taha'a (Motu Mahana Private Island) - This was probably my favorite day. We started out about 10am and the first tender was so full we missed it. Everyone wanted to get over to that private island! We found our perfect spots under the shade of a palm tree in front of the lagoon and staked our claim. I was brought a margarita in a coconut, yum! We were also very blessed to be able to witness a couple celebrating their 30th anniversary and renewing their vows with a ceremony right on the beach, set up by the staff. It was so beautiful I cried and I don't even know the couple! Later on we dyed Pareos with the Gauguines (who serenaded us with music all day by the way!) and ate the most delicious BBQ lunch. We finished up the afternoon with a nice long snorkel, witnessing some great sea life. I didn't want to leave, but we caught the last group back. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
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