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124 Paul Gauguin Cruises Luxury Cruise Reviews

The ship can hold a maximum of 326 or so passengers; there were 260 passengers, 226 crew on our trip. Pretty good crew-to-passenger ratio. Passengers: Mostly English speaking couples, some French, a few Japanese and Spanish (south ... Read More
The ship can hold a maximum of 326 or so passengers; there were 260 passengers, 226 crew on our trip. Pretty good crew-to-passenger ratio. Passengers: Mostly English speaking couples, some French, a few Japanese and Spanish (south American.) There were three young (5-ish) children, from three different families that did not previously know each other. They were well-behaved. Once in a while a bit energetic and rowdy, but in places where this wasn't inappropriate. We only briefly glimpsed one of the families; of the other two, I don't think the children spoke English, but that also wasn't a factor. Most were m/f couples around 45-70, but there was a smattering of everything, including grown kids helping their parents, all types of couples and everything from extreme goths to men who wore dinner jackets with shorts. Cellular Service The ship does have cell service through Maritime. Which is not covered by AT&T Passport. Unlike some other lines, no package available. I didn't use the Maritime coverage. Throughout French Polynesia, Vini is the local cell service. AT&T was definitely confused on the concept of Tahiti vs French Polynesia - I called and they thought they only supported Tahiti, not Bora Bora or Moorea. Post-cruise, I can confirm that AT&T Passport over Vini was covered in all three islands. Vini coverage was fine. The Pool There is a mandatory pool atop the ship. It's pretty small; you wouldn't do laps in it. They drain it for cruising, refilling it (with salt water from the ocean) every morning. Food: The food was mostly very good. Dinners were 50% amazing, but 50% mediocre for a good restaurant. Seafood was reliably fantastic, vegetarian dishes were consistently poor. Drinks were good and as strong as you wish. We didn't have any whisky, but the vodkas and rums were quality, including Grey Goose, Titos and Sky. (Didn't check on others.) Weirdest Shipboard Experience: The hours-long rooster-apacalypse early in Moorea, tons of crowing in the distance for at least an hour. Sounds like a bit of a sports event. Not too loud, but funny. Excursion and Docking information Just in case you weren't aware... excursions are cheapest from the provider. The hotels (e.g. the Intercontinental) mark them up 37%. (Yes, that's the number. Not sure why, but I did verify it.) The Paul Gauguin seems to have an even higher mark-up. e.g. €70 (US$78) for the Blue Lagoon Day vs $109 from the hotel and $139 from the ship. That's nearly double for doing it from the ship (in this case; the ship markup seems to vary.) But it is far more convenient, especially considering... Two of our excursions were cancelled, one due to port change, the other due to weather. We rolled with it. In one case, the "travel concierge" on deck four was able to get us onto a replacement that showed fully booked, when I requested it. (She picked up a phone and spoke in exceedingly fast French for several minutes, hung up and said something like, "It is done." Straight out of a movie.) Snorking quality varies immensely. If you regularly dive or snorkle, you already know this. But if not, just realize that just because snorkling is offered, doesn't mean there's anything interesting to see there. If you're used to using the PGCruises.com "Manage My Trip"... well, they don't keep it up-to-date. (As a rule, the Gauguin technology seems at least a decade behind.) We had two excursions cancelled... change of docking location for one, weather for the other. These aren't removed from the web page. In theory, according to the Travel/Concierge on Deck 4, the T.V. (ironically, their brand-new "ITV System") is kept up-to-date, but it really isn't... our Moorea docking was moved from Oahapanu Bay to Cook's Bay (because a Princess Cruise will be coming on Friday) but the T.V. information wasn't updated. There are detailed schedule sheets. They're pretty useful. But most useful was simply going to the Concierge, who knows what's going on and can sometimes squeeze you in anyhow. Scuba French Polynesia is fantastic for scuba diving. We did several dives. Another passenger referred to this as "Princess Diving", because the equipment (BCD, regulator, tank, weights) are provided and checked for you, they help you strap them on if desired, you flop over the side and then at the end, hand them up and climb aboard unencumbered. It's much easier than the beach drysuit diving we'd mostly done before. You do have to check in with the dive master to schedule dives; he checks your logbooks and medical certificate. You don't have to use the PGCruises medical cert; I brought a copy of my last doctor sign-off, and I believe they can check you there anyhow. But this gave my nervous SO a chance to talk about the dives before deciding. The Zodiac (they have several) leaves from the 3rd-floor boat marina. We brought our own masks, snorkles, fins and computers, but some people used boat-issued ones. Dives were in groups of four, each with a guide. It was a really great time. You don't need to scuba to swim with the sharks and rays; Shark City is a shallow (perhaps a meter) deep area better for snorkling. But we saw much larger sharks, and a lot of other great life, diving. ATV Tour of Huahine Nui We took the Hauhii ATV tour around the island. The highlight was, sadly, the driver in front of me crashing into the driver in front of him. No injuries, but it was exciting. We also did some shore riding, which allowed us to get a better view of the tidal life than we could on foot, because the rocks are simultaneously super-sharp and super-slippery, not a problem for a 4WD ATV but dangerous on foot. We also saw several of the stone marae (temples, basically), the river-eels, a lot of backyards and residents. This gave us a deeper and closer look at the real island than any of the other tours, but that may not be what you really want... because the island's economy really isn't all that great. (My trip notes stated "Third world back alleys.") BBQ on the Motu: This is the excursion, not the "private island" day on Motu Mahana in Bora Bora... covered below. TL;DR: Skip this one. This wasn't all that close to where the Gauguin was docked, so the ride out was long. That may be unusual; our dock was changed because a Princess Cruise was going to need Oahapanu Bay, the larger bay, so the Gauguin docked at Cook Bay instead. On the way, we stopped at Shark/Stingray City, an area out several hundred meters in meter-deep water where the rays and sharks have been fed for decades. This was fantastic and fun. All these large carnivorous fish swimming around you and expecting contact. Definitely do this, but there are other ways to do it than the BBQ excursion. Then we got to the Motu. This one had a lot less going on than Motu Mahana. You're there for hours, but no food or drink for the first several. It's heavily wooded, limited sun. The food is grilled right there, still limited drinks - just beer and water. And not really that great for snorkling either. Eventually, you're glad to leave. Waverunner & Snorkeling Adventure This was a longish ATV ride in very choppy water. Apparently, we were right on the cusp of where they would cancel the excursion, except that two days had already had cancellations due to changed docks. So the ride was a bit brutal. But the scenery was amazing. Snorkling was pretty good, but keep in mind that it may have been more impressive to people who weren't doing scuba dives. The view of the overwater bungalows (and how many resorts have them) was really neat. The guide also prepped some bananas, coconut and grapefruit for us. The bananas and coconut were amazing. We weren't fans of the grapefruit, but it was neat to experience. Motu Mahana This is included with the cruise. It's the "Gauguin Private Island" day. And it's a blast. Imagine it's just past the halfway mark of the cruise. You now have a bunch of friends (it's a small ship, remember? And a self-selecting set of passengers.) The island has wonderful white sand, perfect trees, a huge BBQ buffet, unlimited good drinks, some served in coconut shells (which are greener than you expect from watching Gilligan's Island, apparently not the most accurate documentary.) The water is warm, and even the rain doesn't dampen things. Plenty of chaises, the water is wading-deep for quite some distance, full-plumbing facilities. Really, no downside. Well, one downside. There's an encampment on the other side of the Motu that resembles a homeless camp. I asked about it; apparently one of the local families has "an arrangement." You'll see it if you walk around the Motu (and if they're still there), but if you just stay in the resort-area, you won't. Tip: Don't bother bringing your snorkle gear to the Motu. Despite the description, there's not much to see, especially compared to some other stops. Excursions we heard about: The "Le Truck" excursion disappointed the passengers we chatted with. They didn't see much, were stuck on the road, it seemed aimed at getting them to spend money at local businesses and they just didn't enjoy it. The "personal submarine"/Aquabike's had passengers raving. NOT scuba passengers, but scuba takes prep, training and equipment. It seemed everyone who did the Aquabike loved it. Extras: Get the laundry Service. We booked this electronically well before the trip. It's completely worth it. Just make sure you accurately count your items going out; my SO got it wrong (twice!), with them rejecting the order as a result. Perfectly reasonable, not a big deal. You can't order the internet package in advance; it must be done from on-ship. And it was spotty. The ship's equipment is not a match for today's expectations. This isn't a French Polynesia issue; my cellfone had better coverage and speed than the best of the boat, and large portions of the boat and even some of the cabin had dead zones. But still, it's not expensive and is very convenient. Just realize you won't be doing any streaming or VOIP calls. This had no impact on me other than surprising me. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise over others , first ,balconies, a must while cruising the South Pacific. Second ,reputation. We were not disappointed, from start to finish, the crew of the Paul Gauguin take care of your every need. Pick up at Tahiti ... Read More
We chose this cruise over others , first ,balconies, a must while cruising the South Pacific. Second ,reputation. We were not disappointed, from start to finish, the crew of the Paul Gauguin take care of your every need. Pick up at Tahiti airport and taken to hotel was smooth and efficient, as was embarkation, quick ,efficient, and with in minutes we were escorted to our cabin. My only disappointment with the cabin was the dated bathroom, still a bath tub with shower attachment......needs to be updated. Everything else was great.Our room stewardess just couldnt do enough for us, and when she found out it was our 50th anniversary, decorated our cabin with balloons,banner,flowers on the bed and more.....Anna was a darling. 3 restaurants gave way to a great variety of great food , wine, spirits ,beer was free flowing throughout the dining and day, mainly French wines but you only had to ask for one of your chose. Lots of activities going on during the day , piano bar with a very talented piano player to entertain. Crew night and nightly entertainment by the Polynesian dancers, disco and an amazing band, or just sit and chill out on deck. Plenty of shore excursions to choose from, also 2 days at the Paul Gauguin private beaches. One could not fault the service all members of the crew gave. Would we go again, yes,but for longer next time,7 days just was not long enough.........not everything was perfect hence I did not rate as Excellent, but it was so close........ Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
A friend took this cruise and I liked that it was a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. We added two days at the front of the trip to stay in a bungalow in the lagoon at the intercontinental hotel. We flew Air Nui Tahiti and even though ... Read More
A friend took this cruise and I liked that it was a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. We added two days at the front of the trip to stay in a bungalow in the lagoon at the intercontinental hotel. We flew Air Nui Tahiti and even though it was in coach, the food was good and lots of free entertainment. Highly recommend is asking if there are any upgrades available as it is much cheaper. PGC took care of everything as there was someone waiting for us at the airport to take us to the hotel. Our bungalow was great as was the hotel. Do bring an adapter for the electricity though the hotel will sell you one and then refund the money upon checkout. Transfer to the ship, check in and settling in room was seamless. The room reminded us of our Airstream - lots of storage and comfortable. The week on board was great. The staff learns your name and I swear they could read minds as they anticipated everything. Food was wonderful and halfway through the cruise, we were asked if we wanted to share a table which we did. We sat with a couple from Texas and other guests and ended up dining with them for the rest of the cruise. We did excursions everyday as we thought that would be the best way for us to see things. Really enjoyed the two private islands. I have arthritic knees and every time I went down the stairs to the launch, two crew members assisted me on andoff the launch. Every morning I ordered a pot of coffee from room service and it was there in less than 5 minutes. At the end of the cruise, we got a tour of Tahiti since we couldn’t check into the hotel til after 2. I thought that we would all get put in one room, but we were checked into individual rooms. We were not impressed with the Tahiti Pearl as they were rather rude. We got the fun around trying to ear dinne4 as their restaurant was closed for a private party, but finall got to eat. When we checked into the airport, I asked if there was any upgrades available and there were in Premier class. So for $350 a person, we got a roomier seat with foot rest. It made the redeye an easier way to sleep. All in all, it was a great trip. Would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Air fare from Los Angeles is included in the price. Everything was handled to perfection. The ship and its staff was beyond our expectations and we felt like royalty. Food was incredible, and the ports visited were magical! Staff knew our ... Read More
Air fare from Los Angeles is included in the price. Everything was handled to perfection. The ship and its staff was beyond our expectations and we felt like royalty. Food was incredible, and the ports visited were magical! Staff knew our names by the next day, and our preferences. Loved the fact you could choose from 3 dining rooms for dinner each night. 2required a reservation but there was never a problem making them. We were on board for my husbands birthday and they spoiled him all day. Room was even decorated and a special cake at dinner. Also liked the relaxed attire dress code wise. Didn't have to pack my husbands tuxedo to be used only once or twice. A surprise at the end was the fact we were put up in a day room of a beautiful resort with all transfers included, as our plane left after 11:00pm the day we disembarked. That was the icing on the cake! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We have never been on a cruise prior to this trip, we chose this PG because the boat was comparatively small and it was in Tahiti. Tahiti is a very expensive holiday destination and the cruise seemed fairly priced. We had a balcony cabin ... Read More
We have never been on a cruise prior to this trip, we chose this PG because the boat was comparatively small and it was in Tahiti. Tahiti is a very expensive holiday destination and the cruise seemed fairly priced. We had a balcony cabin on level 8, it was very quiet and came with a butler. Our butler was Harry and he was fantastic, nothing was a problem. Harry organised dining, drinks anything we wanted really. The ladies cleaning our room were really great also, very helpful. The ship isn't new but we thought it was a lot better than some reviews were stating it was. We had many meals at the Le Grill restaurant that was very well run by Randy with great support from Joey and Roland, all the food was great. A special mention of Jobert a wine waiter, he was an amazing young man, he found out our favourite wine and next day we notice a bottle in our room - what a great touch. He was far more than a wine waiter and in a lot of ways this is how we found most of the staff on-board, this made for a great cruise. The other 2 restaurants were not as good but still very good food and service. We loved the Gauguin performers, great fun. The PG organised shore excursions were expensive, we found it was better simply to get off the boat and organise our own excursions. The only negative was in November it is starting to rain a lot in Tahiti. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We have wanted to return to Tahiti since our last cruise there in 2001. It was the perfect relaxing getaway in a most spectacular destination. French Polynesia has such dramatically beautiful islands. Perfect weather too - not too hot! The ... Read More
We have wanted to return to Tahiti since our last cruise there in 2001. It was the perfect relaxing getaway in a most spectacular destination. French Polynesia has such dramatically beautiful islands. Perfect weather too - not too hot! The staff on the Paul Gauguin were the most personable of any cruise we have taken. Just amazing. The ship is lovely, comfortable and spacious. Three places to dine — all good! Loved dinners in La Veranda but wished the menu changed throughout the week. Nevertheless the food was great, nice presentation and impeccable service. Embarkation and disembarkation was handled very well - smooth and quick. Efficient. Did only two shore excursions as we had been to Tahiti before. Enjoyed the private PG beach - all included. Used the spa for massages - very nice! For a small ship, the Paul Gauguin had a little of everything the big ships have, even a small casino. What it did NOT have was a crowded feeling! We thoroughly enjoyed our week. Will look forward to cruising again on the Paul Gauguin. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I did choose this cruise cause I don't like standard crowdy cruises. Paul Gauguin is definitly ....a different and special option. My expectations were exceeded. Tks for that. My wife and I celebrated our 43rd Anniversary ... Read More
I did choose this cruise cause I don't like standard crowdy cruises. Paul Gauguin is definitly ....a different and special option. My expectations were exceeded. Tks for that. My wife and I celebrated our 43rd Anniversary and our birthday visiting French Polynesia. We spent 10 unforgettable days visiting beautiful islands, motus, and breathtaking atolls aboard the Paul Gauguin (Vairao, Huahine, Bora Bora , Rangiroa, Taha’a, Fakarava, Moorea, Papeete.... Staff was friendly and always ready to offer excellent service. They were always smiling, always friendly, and always accommodating. We loved all of them and shared with most of them Polynesian life style. We learned a lot about Polynesia talking with them. Only 340 guests on board, served by 271 crew members. That makes the difference. We are aware that in 2020 the ship will be surveyed at Singapore (scheduled maintenance), so PG will offer a chance to take an special cruise from Papeete to Bali. Could be an excellent opportunity to enjoy PG once again. Why not? Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I had heard it was luxurious and a once in a lifetime experience. Wrong. The ship is 20 years old and showing every day of it. For the price we paid and the fact that it was an exclusive French ship, I expected the best French food. ... Read More
I had heard it was luxurious and a once in a lifetime experience. Wrong. The ship is 20 years old and showing every day of it. For the price we paid and the fact that it was an exclusive French ship, I expected the best French food. Even perhaps a small French creperie on board. No such luck. The food was average, and not particularly French. I have been on may cruises and most ships have excellent entertainment. Not on this one. There wasn't actually any entertainment to speak of, apart from a Tahitian group who were amateurish at best. The lead singer if you could call her that was often off key. The best thing about this cruise was that the staff were amazing. Highly trained and couldn't help enough. There was also the fact that you could drink as much as you like and didn't get charged for it. There were also a large amount of free in cabin movies. Most of the shore excursions were very expensive, and a bit disappointing except for the Dolphin experience. That was amazing. Being able to get into the water with the Dolphins and get a photo kissing one was worth the trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Everything about this cruise was wonderful, including staff, food, and excursions. We were particularly impressed by the food and restaurant service, with the exception of the on deck restaurant which at night was purportedly a fine ... Read More
Everything about this cruise was wonderful, including staff, food, and excursions. We were particularly impressed by the food and restaurant service, with the exception of the on deck restaurant which at night was purportedly a fine dining restaurant which needed special booking.Unlike the other La Veranda fine dining restaurant, which had amazing food and wonderfully attentive service, Le Grille food was limited in choice and in our view mediocre, and there was little ambiance when we went on 14th September. Our six thirty booking was early, and they must have overbooked for later because our three courses were rushed to the extent that by 7.20 pm 50 minutes later we were being asked if we wanted coffee with our desert! Couple this with a waiter who firstly forget my order for Cointreau without ice with my coffee, and when reminded took another ten minutes to bring a bottle over and asked if I wanted it on the rocks. I confirmed again no, and he went off for a further ten minutes, and then came back with it on ice! When the maitre de asked how things had gone I told him, and he was almost rude in his defence of the rushed meal (we always serve the coffee with the desert) and his defense of the waiter (he's very busy and he has to go all the way to the bar for drinks) What a let down on an otherwise wonderful cruise! So, forget special bookings at Le Grille, and make extra ones at La Veranda, but the main restaurant was also superb both in food choices and great service. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Before going on our cruise, I spent countless hours reading reviews - mostly from cruisecritic - and they were so incredibly helpful that I feel like I have to now return the favor as some of the advice I read was outdated and I picked up ... Read More
Before going on our cruise, I spent countless hours reading reviews - mostly from cruisecritic - and they were so incredibly helpful that I feel like I have to now return the favor as some of the advice I read was outdated and I picked up a few tips of my own. This is a long review so feel free to skip it if you don't like novels. BOARDING THE SHIP We were on the dock at 3PM and there were only about 20 people waiting with us. Onboarding was very quick and very easy. We immediately went to the travel concierge desk to pick up our tickets for the excursions each day. You can also go to the marina after the safety drill to pick up your snorkeling gear that you will use and keep throughout the cruise. We did not have to give up our passports, only showed them upon check in. DINNER RESERVATIONS Once onboard, you can immediately make reservations for any of the two reservation-only restaurants at either one. We went to Veranda for lunch when boarding at 3PM and made our reservations for dinner at Veranda and dinner at Le Grille. You will receive priority when booking each restaurant for the first time, and then reservations are subject to other cruisers who have not been to dinner. We had trouble getting another reservation but on the last night we went to the Grille for breakfast and they were able to fit us in for that night. One thing I didn't realize is the restaurant where you don't need a reservation - L'Etoile - is a sit down very nice restaurant as well. I assumed it was something lessor but we thought it was very good and the menu changes daily whereas at Le Grille and Veranda, the menu stays the same so you really only need one reservation at each to get a taste. They told us on the last day that if you really want to eat somewhere and don't have a reservation, you can head there around 7PM and see if any of the 6:30PM reservations didn't show up - it's worth a shot. IN THE ROOM In the room, you will find full size shampoo/conditioner that I felt was very adequate and you do not need to bring your own. There is a mini fridge with sodas, waters and beer. There is a hair dryer. Each day, they will set out two new yellow beach towels for your use. There are american outlets and french polynesia outlets if you don't have a converter. There is plenty of storage, as many have said. ROOM TV The in-room TV does a lot things. You can see excursions at each port and book them. You can order room service. And you can request things like more hangers. There is also a great selection of movies and we were able to watch the news. Yes, we should be out more, but we enjoyed having some downtime in the room and being able to watch a movie and hang out was a nice perk. The room service portions are small - order more rather than less. LAUNDRY SERVICE We paid for the laundry service which we enjoyed having. In the room, is your laundry bag as well as a sheet detailing which items you are having laundered. You have to fill out a new sheet, place in the laundry bag and put on your door each morning and it will be back to you by the afternoon. The middle section "Laundry & Pressing" is what you will fill out if you have a laundry package (which does not include eco friendly cleaning). EXCURSIONS We did one excursion a day. I was torn on doing morning or afternoon excursions so did a few of each, but we preferred mornings. I would sign up online for the excursions ASAP as they do fill up. Our first port was Huahine and there is not much to do on this island so I would think you would definitely want to do an excursion here unless you spend the first day hanging out on the boat. We know a few couples who did several excursions a day or only did a few total. For us, one a day was about right. The highlight tour for us was in Bora Bora - the Lagoon Excursion at Maohi Nui. Other good tours: E-Bike to Belvedere in Moorea and the Underwater Walk in Bora Bora if only for the fun photos. BALCONY We were lucky enough to get a balcony and we really enjoyed hanging out on the balcony in the mornings or when the boat was moving. I could see the argument for not needing one, but if you can afford it, I would do it again, although it doesn't make or break your experience. ENTERTAINMENT All of the shows were at 9:30PM or 10:00PM and frankly, we could not stay awake for them. We were pretty sleepy by 8 and usually in bed by 9. We did stay up for the last show on the last night back in Tahiti and it was excellent - it was a professional troupe. We also did go to the Crew Show which was adorable and well done. DEMOGRAPHICS We are 31 and were on our honeymoon. There were several other (maybe 5 or 6) younger couples around our age. The majority of cruisers were in their 40's and 50's and there were also many couples 50+. We never felt too young or weird on the ship - we met lots of great folks and enjoyed spending time with them no matter the age. The majority of cruisers were great people who were avid travelers and many of them had been on the PG before. There were a few snotty 50-something that were rude to staff and ungrateful but they were few and far between. STAFF The staff was exceptional and they were always smiling, always friendly, and always accommodating. We loved all of them and enjoyed seeing them each day. Overall, this was a great cruise and we had an amazing time and met some great people. I don't know that we would do the cruise again but only because we would love to take a different cruise as this was our first one so we'd like to check out other places - there are too many places to visit! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose the Paul Gaugin as it was a smaller vessel (only 300 passengers) and everything was included - so no paying for good and drinks. Embarkation/Disembarkation Extremely efficient Service Mainly Filipino crew - extremely ... Read More
We chose the Paul Gaugin as it was a smaller vessel (only 300 passengers) and everything was included - so no paying for good and drinks. Embarkation/Disembarkation Extremely efficient Service Mainly Filipino crew - extremely hard working and very friendly. Couldn’t do enough to help you out Cabin We chose a stateroom. It was actually quite nice to have an, albeit small, verandah. Meant we could fit outside in the morning in our bathrobes - no rush to get changed and go on deck! Cabins were very spacious with a lot of storage. Food There are 3 restaurants. Two of them required a reservation by lunch time that day. These had the same menu each night for dinner. The main dining room needed no reservation and the menu changed each night.The food was very good. Tours We definitely recommend the wave runner tour at Bora Bora. The do one at Moorea,but the lagoons at Bora Bora are more impressive- you also go right round the island. In Moorea we were unable to hire a car last minute, however it worked in our favour as we found the best taxi driver in the island with a wealth of knowledge - also a genuinely nice guy. He was bought up in Hawaii but has lived in Moorea for 20 years.I would definitely recommend booking him ahead before you arrive if you can. He recommended that we get a day pass st the Sofitel in Moorea. It was really reasonable and included lunch, coffee, snorkel equipment,towels and some of the best snorkelling in the trip. PG have contracts with certain hotels only ( it’s the inter continental in Moorea) so local knowledge us key.His name isTeva Wilkes 87764564The phone number is correct but not sure if this is the correct email - but give it a go!tevawilkes@yahoo.cpm All in all, we loved the PG cruise. We are thinking of doing a 10 day cruise next time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
La Orana, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ― Gustave Flaubert I was just sharing photos with loved ones and thought that many on this forum might appreciate our reflections from ... Read More
La Orana, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ― Gustave Flaubert I was just sharing photos with loved ones and thought that many on this forum might appreciate our reflections from our recent trip to French Polynesia last month (July 2018). I want to thank everyone who had posted trip reports and tips (especially Dana’s -aka Deladane’s fabulously detailed trip report, TBK’s inspiring photos and helpful tips, and Laura’s - aka “yourSLCwoman” recent trip report as well) on the cruise critic forum and all who answered my questions this past year as we planned for this incredible adventure. My husband and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary and a special birthday at one of our “Bucket trip” destinations…French Polynesia. We spent just over two weeks in July visiting beautiful islands, gorgeous motus, and breathtaking atolls including: Fakarava, Huahine, Rangiroa, Taha’a, Moorea and Bora Bora aboard the Paul Gauguin. In short, this experience was incredible! We arrived and stayed in Tahiti a few days before boarding the cruise. We enjoyed 10 nights aboard the amazing Paul Gauguin which was awesome and afforded us the opportunity to see so much! There were only 320 guests on board, and the staff, food, and of course, the destinations were second to none. The ship and staff really live up to their stellar reputation…it was undoubtedly the best cruise we have ever been on! We then flew to Bora Bora, and extended our stay for a few days after the cruise to experience an overwater bungalow at the St. Regis…absolutely beautiful! We so loved meeting many wonderful people on board (some from this cruise critic forum), especially FlightMedic and his lovely wife, KMorg123 and her wonderful family, and Tina with her kind husband! SNORKELLING: “The best way to observe a fish, is to become a fish” - Jacques Cousteau……and we did become fish! For my fellow snorkelling friends…..life underwater in French Polynesia was magical! I had purchased the recommended Olympus TG5 camera just before our trip (thanks for the inspiration Deladane!) , and it did not disappoint! The plethora of fish, the pristine coral, and clarity of the water were mesmerizing….We snorkelled every chance we got! For the first time ever, we swam with black tip sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, spotted rays and even saw an octopus up close! It was undoubtedly some of the best snorkelling that we have ever experienced! DH and I also changed our snorkel gear from the one piece to a proper snorkel and mask after the concerns that arose with the full face masks…and we quickly adjusted and loved our new equipment! “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher” French Polynesia is indeed, also a place of which dreams are made…It is absolutely beautiful, inspirational, a feast for the senses, and life affirming. My husband and I feel so blessed to have been able to complete this journey. We hope to one day return to this spectacular part of the world! SOME TIPS THAT WERE VERY HELPFUL TO ME IN MY PLANNING AND A FEW I HAVE ADDED FROM OUR OWN EXPERIENCE: - get your snorkel equipment in the ship’s marina right after the 5 pm drill; a long line up forms very quickly - book your dinners at La Veranda and Le Grill at tea time (4 pm) the first day you board -The Olympus TG5 underwater camera is incredible! I had read reviews, several trip reports both on this forum and on Trip Advisor and of course seen the potential photos it takes….best purchase ever! Very easy to use as well. -Watch for the PG’s Valentine’s Day special, even after you have booked. Thanks to this tip from Dana, I called PG and added the complimentary promotion of $200 OBC, a box of Godiva chocolates and a bottle of bubbly to our account. -We enjoyed so many of our meals…loved the first menu at La Veranda. Also loved having our breakfast and lunches there as well…such a great view both inside and outside during the day. Also really liked the “themed lunches”…the Greek lunch was amazing (this coming from someone of Greek descent ) - Best excursions: Marc’s Lagoon Tour (good introduction to Huahine and tried delicious Poisson Cru for the first time), Ato Lissant’s tour in Fakarava (incredible time spent snorkelling and at the Blue Lagoon), Pure Snorkelling in Bora Bora (great snorkelling), and Raanui Tours in Bora Bora (amazing up close encounters with sharks, rays and wonderful snorkel stops)…loved the smaller group sizes...booked many privately. - Enjoyed seeing the pearl farm in Huahine on Marc’s Lagoon tour…bring $$, some great pearls to buy…I ended up buying pearls on Motu Mahana, the dock at Moorea, and at Robert Wan in Bora Bora. - Loved Motu Mahana....what a blissful and idyllic experience…and there are good merchants there to buy vanilla (bean/paste/extract) and pearls...and bring your snorkelling gear. - Try to get to the market in Papeete before/after the cruise…best pricing on souvenirs/gifts. I ended up buying a few pareos, Manoi oil, and some Tiare French milled soap. There are also of course pearls for sale, but did not initially find anything that spoke to me there. I hope that my reflections help. For those who are planning a trip on the Paul Gauguin…..enjoy, it is an incredible experience! For others (like us) who have just come back: “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” ―Pat Conroy ….we are definitely playing this incredible voyage in “the quietest chambers…of our minds” and loving reliving the memories! Enjoy! 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
A friend told us about (actually raved about) Paul Gauguin cruises almost 10 years ago, and we finally had the opportunity to give it a try. Having cruised many times in the past 30 years, including onboard some of the smaller luxury ... Read More
A friend told us about (actually raved about) Paul Gauguin cruises almost 10 years ago, and we finally had the opportunity to give it a try. Having cruised many times in the past 30 years, including onboard some of the smaller luxury ships in the WindStar fleet, we were excited for this particular trip. Our experience on Paul Gauguin met, and actually exceeded, every expectation we had of our cruise around the Tahitian Islands. From the friendly and welcoming cruise staff, to our well-appointed stateroom and the amazing food and beverage service on board, to the stunning ports of call from Tahiti, Bora Bora, and a few smaller islands, EVERYTHING was simply done exceptionally well. Every little detail was managed expertly by the PG cruise staff...and always with a smile. At every port, we were greeted with local music and dance, plenty of shore excursion opportunities, and always armed with sufficient information to navigate the new island. The islands we visited were spectacularly beautiful, and we were very thankful for our cabin's balcony. I think we spent more time on our balcony on this cruise than we ever have in the past...we didn't want to miss a moment. The PG staff, too, were incredibly hard-working, dedicated professionals who took the art of customer service to a new level. We would not change a thing about our PG experience, except perhaps to make the cruise longer! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Let's start saying that this is a very small ship. It doesn't have 10 restaurants or bars or 6,000 sq.ft. of fitness room. We are talking about luxury ship, where every passenger has the ability to know each other on board , and ... Read More
Let's start saying that this is a very small ship. It doesn't have 10 restaurants or bars or 6,000 sq.ft. of fitness room. We are talking about luxury ship, where every passenger has the ability to know each other on board , and where all crew members know you and remember your name, your favorite drink or dish. This is where you are treated like a king and every your wish becomes reality. Food is exceptional, served in three restaurants. Drinks are all included, along with crew tips. Obviously you can still extra tip for those services you think they exceeded your expectation. Room services 24/7. Cabins are very nice and elegant, and bathroom very roomy with a tub. All cabins are ocean view, from portholes to picture windows to balconies. The ship has a Marina that opens up when the ship anchors, and offers lots of water sports activities, and provides snorkel gears to passengers that want to use them on their land excursions. French Polynesia is the place to go, at least twice in a lifetime. Expensive but worth it. Enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Although we're avid sailors, for years we've avoided taking a cruise because of our negative impressions of large cruising ships docking in Caribbean ports and disgorging thousands of people. However... We have just returned ... Read More
Although we're avid sailors, for years we've avoided taking a cruise because of our negative impressions of large cruising ships docking in Caribbean ports and disgorging thousands of people. However... We have just returned from an 11 day cruise on MS Paul Gauguin to the Cook and Society islands of French Polynesia. We highly recommend this cruise! The ship is attractive, well- maintained, and well-managed . It holds 320 passengers and is spacious enough so that you never feel crowded. It has an incredibly well trained, cohesive staff who take pride in their service. Anything that you need is not just available- but anticipated. Our cabin was lovely and sitting on the balcony looking at the amazing blue colors of the water and the surrounding islands was wonderful. The meals in both the main restaurant, L’Etoile, and the two smaller venues (Le Grill and La Verandah) were gourmet- beautifully presented and delicious. We enjoyed all our excursions and felt very welcome on whichever island we were visiting. We extend our thanks to everyone aboard the Gauguin- and especially to Rowena, Marlon, Marvin, Rowell, Flo, and Mike . Special thanks to David Walsh of Avoya Travel who offered wonderful suggestions, selected the perfect cabin, and followed through whenever it was needed. We'll obviously be taking more small ship cruises. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was, hands down, the best cruise we have ever done. The smaller number of passengers and the attention to customer satisfaction was simply exceptional. The wine selections with meals were outstanding, and the staff were just so ... Read More
This was, hands down, the best cruise we have ever done. The smaller number of passengers and the attention to customer satisfaction was simply exceptional. The wine selections with meals were outstanding, and the staff were just so phenomenal. We would recommend to anyone. Best value for money. Mary Grace and Harry ( our room steward and butler) were amazing! The shore excursions were easy to book on line prior to our trip, and the entertainment on board was great! The staff in the lounges and restaurants were superb. Scenery in this part of the world is unsurpassed for breathtaking beauty. The drift snorkel and swimming with rays and sharks was exciting and one-of-a-kind experiences! Ricardo and Manny in the breakfast Veranda Buffet were aways a smiling way to start each exciting day! Even had a brief visit to the on board nurse and physician and cannot find fault! It will be a pleasure to come back and repeat this week-long stay in paradise.... Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
As the other reviews will tell you, this is a top-class ship, not too large, with excellent cabins, good choice of included wines and cocktails, and luxurious amenities. The head waiter was especially helpful in sorting out my wife's ... Read More
As the other reviews will tell you, this is a top-class ship, not too large, with excellent cabins, good choice of included wines and cocktails, and luxurious amenities. The head waiter was especially helpful in sorting out my wife's Vegan diet each day and giving her a special choice of meals. BUT there are some 'buts'! 1) Ship reception was often shambolic. Second muster drill (on the first morning, for late arrivals) was totally confused; wrong messages were sent to room; mini-lectures on the next port were poor, poorly attended and told us much less than the guides on the trips; wrong film was played in the theatre one day and they didn't understand how to read the DVD menu to play the second part (following this, they showed the film they MEANT to show on a continuous loop or days on end on the ship's TV channel!!!) 2) Restaurant staff were generally very efficient (though the wine waiter sometimes seemed to disappear when our glasses were empty) - but we would have liked just a bit more courtesy ./ formality and not for them to be so over-friendly (we didn't want to be their buddies) 3) One afternoon there was supposed to be a wine lecture. This was taken by the owner of an Oregon vineyard who was using the ship as leader of an affinity group for the vineyard. We were expecting a tasting but got a lecture from someone who knew his own wine very well but had eccentric views based upon limited knowledge of wines from the rest of the world but was quite certain his opinions were spot-on. Furthermore we had no coaching in the wines, were not guided as to how and when to taste them, and the tasting glasses were so huge that it was impossible to judge the wines anyway. He served two wines of the same provenance from different vintages and expected us to be impressed by how different they tasted (one was three times as old as the other, for Goodness' sake; it would have been better if he had explained to us how he expected the younger one to age, but I expect he didn't actually have any idea) 4) It seems that, whenever six or more Americans get together (whether it's around the poll, in the bar or - worst - in the restaurant) they find it necessary to shout at each other. Most annoying, uncouth, intrusive and bad manners 5) Somehow most of our fellow passengers seemed to like the on-board singers / dancers "Les Gaugines". We beg to differ: they were out of step more often than not and were frequently out of tune. The karaoke was better. 6) At the end of the cruise we were told to leave our suitcases outside our rooms the night before, so that they could be loaded onto the dockside overnight. My wife watched as one of the handlers retrieved suitcases from the ramps, opened out their extending handles, then used these extending handles to swing the cases around and throw them through the air. It was only after we collected our suitcases the next day that we realised that they had bent and broken the handles on one of the cases (surprising they hadn't broken all three actually!). The worst part is that Paul Gauguin initially refused to pay any compensation, and it was only after three exchanges of emails and my having to point out they they were responsible for clear negligence and wilful misconduct that they paid for a new suitcase. Airlines would do this without hesitation, but Paul Gauguin tried to rely on their contract small print . Shame on you, Paul Gauguin. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We wanted to experience the French Polynesian and nervously chose the Paul Gaugin cruise line. Make no mistake about it, my wife and I are not cruise line people. The best way I can describe this cruise is to write and say it was the best ... Read More
We wanted to experience the French Polynesian and nervously chose the Paul Gaugin cruise line. Make no mistake about it, my wife and I are not cruise line people. The best way I can describe this cruise is to write and say it was the best experience my wife and I could have ever hoped and prayed for. Only 328 people are on-board the ship and the crew made us feel like we were the only couple on board. Most of the sailing is done in the evening and each morning we woke up in another Island Paradise. The only suggestion I can offer is to research and plan your excursions well before your cruise; don’t miss snorkeling in Bora Bora and Morea. Be prepared for a long trip from the (East) states to Tahiti. You want to seriously consider renting an over the water bungalow, or any room, the first night at the Interconntinental Resort so that you can rest after the long trip from the States to Tahiti before boarding for the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Hi folks. We were on the Feb.24, 11 day cruise with Paul Gauguin from Tahiti . the cruise itself was very nice. I have both Pro' s and cons from the cruise...... Pro's = only 320 people, ....Best ever, on and off the ship , ... Read More
Hi folks. We were on the Feb.24, 11 day cruise with Paul Gauguin from Tahiti . the cruise itself was very nice. I have both Pro' s and cons from the cruise...... Pro's = only 320 people, ....Best ever, on and off the ship , no big line ups , no elbow to elbow, no frustration......service was excellent ,my wife loved being escorted to the dining table and the napkin being put on her lap, ...me, it was a little over the top, but nice.... food was good and if you didn't like what was on the menu you could order some thing else....nice that the ship could go to places the big can't......... Now the cons= Expensive wow.....very very small casino, 12 slots , 1 blackjack, 1 roulette table, not much if you like gambling......the loading of passengers to get on a tender boat was way to crowded, no room.... no where to get a bit to eat at 3or 4 or5 or 6 pm. ,dinner never started before 7 or 7 30pm,I guess we could have ordered room service...... entertainment was ok, good thing Johny Ross the rocker was on board, this entertainer from England was fantastic .....to much hula dancing...... Over all it was a good trip but at a cost. ....We had a balcony near the front 605 and every night you could hear the base sound so you might as well go to the show because it was noisy............... Now back to some more Pro's = the shore excursions were awesome ,the best being the underwater walks, we did 2 of them.....beautiful clear water ,turquoise in colour, and great friendly shore excursion people .......our room was a typical size with a bath and shower. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see the South Pacific and because we heard they had excellent service and food. We were not disappointed with one exception. Scuba Diving is one activity that they provide. The other departments ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see the South Pacific and because we heard they had excellent service and food. We were not disappointed with one exception. Scuba Diving is one activity that they provide. The other departments provided excellent service. The Marina and Scuba Staff did not. They were staffed by young Frenchmen that did not understand the importance of introducing themselves or relating to those who they were guiding on underwater adventures. With that exception, we had a wonderful time exploring the area. The Polynesian people and the Philipino staff were so light-hearted and fun that they added to our experience. The shore excursions we almost all good to great. We were in cabin 765 which is a suite located on the stern of the ship. It has views out both sides and often was the best place to be on the ship. Overall I would recommend this cruise and would suggest to Paul Gauguin that they replace the French staff on the Marina with the great Philipino help they have throughout the ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
My wife and I recently completed an 11-day cruise on Paul Gauguin, visiting French Polynesia and the Cook islands. It was one of our most enjoyable cruise experiences ever. Prior to the cruise, I unsuccessfully tried to find answers to a ... Read More
My wife and I recently completed an 11-day cruise on Paul Gauguin, visiting French Polynesia and the Cook islands. It was one of our most enjoyable cruise experiences ever. Prior to the cruise, I unsuccessfully tried to find answers to a number of questions relating to this adventure. Now that I know the answers to these questions, I thought that it might be useful to share what I have learned with those who may be seeking the same information. Pre-cruise Travel Getting to Tahiti from North America can best be described as a wearisome journey. Most of the direct flights leave from LAX. The trip is about 8 hours and most of the flights arrive in Papeete at around 10:00 PM. There are a few that arrive in the early evening as well. If you are on one of the 10:00 flights, you will have to make arrangements for a place to stay that night along with arranging a ride to that place from the airport as well as transportation to the ship in time for its departure. The ship typically departs sometime in the evening. Guests can start coming on board around 3:00 PM. Passengers who arrive on the earlier flights can avoid the cost of lodging in Papeete but will have to make sure that they have transportation to the ship arranged in advance as the ship departs very soon after the evening flights have landed. Guests whom I spoke with who had arrived on early evening flights said that they were too tired after their flight to enjoy much of the first night’s experience on board. The cruise line offers pre and post-cruise packages that include transportation and lodging but they are a little pricey. We found a simple but adequate studio in Papeete through AirBnB. The owner picked us up at the airport when our flight arrived, greeted us with flower leis and provided a quick driving tour of the Papeete before taking us to the apartment. Very convenient. Papeete is not a place that you need to spend much time visiting. A day in town is plenty. We had two and were very happy to board the ship when the time came. One thing that is worth doing while in Tahiti is to take a tour of the island by car. There are many ways to get this done but I recommend that, unless you welcome the prospect of getting hopelessly lost, you consider using a local guide rather than renting a car. In our case, the owner of the apartment we rented had a family member who did island tours. We decided to take this tour at the end of the cruise when we had about 16 hours to kill before boarding the plane for home. After the 6 hour island tour, we were allowed to go back to the apartment to rest up until our host again came to pick us up and drive to the airport for our midnight flight. The $150 charge for the island tour, day-use of the apartment and transportation to the airport was a welcome bargain. Onboard the M/S Paul Gauguin This cruise line offers a number of stateroom and service options that can greatly affect your cruise experience. Many, but certainly not all things are included on Paul Gauguin cruises. Among the most notable inclusions are food and drink. There are three dining venues which are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Room service is also available for no additional charge. Two of the eating venues offer buffet-style meals during breakfast and lunch and then morph into reservation-only specialty restaurants for dinner. The main dining room is primarily a sit-down dinner venue with no reservations required. You should try all the options as they each offer a different enjoyable dining experience. Stateroom Selection Paul Gauguin cruises are not for the low budget traveler. My wife and I normally opt for a stateroom with a balcony when traveling to warm weather locations. On this ship, rooms with balconies can cost up to $3000 more than the same room with a window instead of the balcony. We gambled and chose a window stateroom on deck 4. It was a good decision. The Paul Gauguin is a small ship with about 300 passengers. There are many places on the ship where guests can be outdoors enjoying the view. We took advantage of this and never missed the absence of a balcony. Travelers with mobility issues or those who like to take advantage of room-service dining will probably want to go with the balcony upgrade but for us, the cost savings provided funds to purchase a few very useful ship services such as Internet, laundry and excursions. Internet Service Internet service on cruise ships has come a long way over the past few years. For travelers like me, who must remain in contact with a business at home, having Internet access while traveling is a requirement, not just a luxury. P G Cruises offers reasonably-fast wireless Internet service throughout the ship. They also have a computer room where guests can use the provided work stations. The Internet manager is friendly, helpful and very competent. Internet service on cruise ships is usually expensive. The Paul Gauguin is no exception. Services packages can be purchased based on blocks of time, (not amounts of data), ranging from a few minutes to unlimited service throughout the cruise. Choosing from the various offered service packages can be a bit of a crap shoot. Should you purchase the unlimited package and never worry about running out of minutes or go with one or more smaller packages? The unlimited time package can be purchased any time for $29 a day but once purchased you will be billed at this rate for every remaining day of the cruise. Service for an 11 day cruise will cost $319. You can also pay as you go for 55 cents a minute or buy time packages that reduce the cost per minute to as low as 20 cents. If you run out of minutes, you can buy another package. My wife and I each bought the 400 minute, large package for $80 apiece. 400 minutes was more than enough for me to handle my work communications and just barely enough for my wife to feed her Facebook addiction while keeping in touch with the kids. Your mileage may vary. Users must remember to log off after every session or the usage clock will keep on ticking. Laundry Service As stated previously, the Paul Gauguin is a small ship. This is a good thing in many ways but it also means that some of the guest services that are common on the larger ships are not available. This includes washing machines that guests can use. I spoke to several guests who planned to try to make it through the entire cruise without using the ship’s laundry service. This is not something that would have worked for us. Polynesia is a hot and humid place. You will sweat and your clothes will seldom be usable for more than a day or so before they will need washing. We elected to purchase the ship’s laundry package for $199. It was money well spent. Every morning we sent a bag of clothes to the ship’s laundry. In the afternoon, the clothes were returned cleaned and pressed. My wife was in heaven. Ship Services The Paul Gauguin is unique in the sense that it provides some services that are not available on most cruise ships. At the top of this list is the Marina. The Marina is an area at the stern of the ship which caters to water sports. When anchored, large doors open up on the stern creating an outdoor deck with access to the water. On the first day of our voyage, most of the guests visited the Marina and checked out snorkeling equipment, which is provided for free. I brought my own but to my surprise, the ship’s gear was high quality, comparable with mine. The Marina also stocks a collection of kayaks, wind surfers and stand-up paddle boards, all available for guests to use for free while at anchor in most of the ports. They also offer scuba equipment and scuba classes, (for a fee). I was excited about the kayaks but the reality was that guests could only check them out for 30 minutes at a time and were limited to where they could go with these toys. Still it was fun to climb off the Marina deck onto a kayak and paddle around for a while. Another of included ship services are the very interesting lectures given by onboard experts. On our trip we had a guy who shared his oceanographic expertise on subjects ranging from coral, to whales and even tsunamis. These lectures became a must-see event every afternoon. Excursions Like most cruise ships the Paul Gauguin offers a selection of excursions at each of the ports of call. We considered a couple of the in-house excursions but quickly learned that we could find more appealing options on our own. Some of the ports offer much more in the way of excursions than others. A few of the places we visited did not offer much at all. In those locations, we simply walked around or took the local bus somewhere. While we did not take advantage of this, renting a bike or motor scooter looked like it would be fun on some of the smaller islands. By far, the most enjoyable excursions that we experienced were on Bora Bora and Moorea. On Bora Bora we joined a Wave Runner, (Jet Ski), group which took us all the way around the island, sometimes at speeds of up to 45 mph. The water and scenery was absolutely beautiful and the ride was exhilarating to say the least. We booked this through the cruise but found out later that the ship’s mark-up was close to 75%. Similar Wave Runner tours can be found on Moorea but at the recommendation of a shipmate, we chose a 3 hour ATV tour of the interior of the island. This was a fantastic experience which I highly recommend. We booked this tour online from the ship, prior to arriving in Moorea. Check out http://www.mooreaactivitiescenter.com/atv Combine the Jet Ski and ATV tours for the best deal. You will not be disappointed. While we did not partake of any of the scuba excursions, those who did gave them rave reviews. Scuba and snorkeling excursions can be booked on your own but from what I can tell, the ones that the ship offers are probably the best options. One thing to keep in mind when booking an excursion that is not from the ship is that you are on your own. If your tour boat or bus breaks down and you cannot make it back onboard before the ship sails to the next port you, will probably be left behind. It has happened. If something goes wrong with an excursion booked through the ship, the crew will use every resource to bring you back before sailing away. What to Bring? There probably no absolute correct answer to this question. Since we had daily laundry service, we probably could have brought fewer clothes. There no need to bring anything fancy. Resort casual is appropriate for all ship locations after 6:00. The rest of the time guests are usually in shorts or swimsuits. Among the other items that came in very handy for us was an electrical outlet converter (French to USA) and a 220v to 110v international power converter with US plugs and USB charging ports. We always pack a Bestek MRJ201GU converter when traveling internationally. Adding an extension cord or two might be helpful if you have a lot of stuff to plug in. The ship provides 220 v hair dryers so you can leave yours at home. If you plug a 110 volt device into a 220 power source, it will probably go up in smoke within seconds. Most computer power supplies can handle both voltages but as my wife can confirm, curling irons will not. Of course, you should bring a camera or two. A waterproof camera will help you better describe to your friends, all those strange and beautiful things that you saw when you went snorkeling. Binoculars are great to have, especially if whales are in the area. Unless you pick up a local cell phone, telephone service will be difficult at best. The good news is that the ship’s WIFI has enough band width to make Skype calls possible when on board. Put the Skype app on your phone, connect to WIFI and you are in business. There will be a lot of quiet time while on board the ship. If you like to read bring a couple books. Even better, pack a Kindle. Most days you are likely to find a large percentage of the passengers sitting in a shady spot on deck with their Kindle in one hand and something from the bar in the other. Bring plenty of sun protection. This includes hats, sunscreen and a shirt or rash guard to wear while snorkeling. I did not bring the latter and paid dearly for the error. On one of the first days, I went snorkeling for a couple hours without considering that my back and shoulders would be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time. The result was a second degree burn that took weeks to heal. A couple of our shipmates showed up with something that I would have never considered packing. They were from Oregon and loved to fly fish. They brought along a couple of small backpacking fly rods and some flies. When I saw them wading the shallows, casting away, I was very envious. They must have recognized my desire and let me borrow one of the rods. Who would have thought that I would have the opportunity to fly fish while on a Polynesian cruise? I even caught a few small fish. Wow! Passenger Demographics The makeup of the passengers on this cruise covered a wide spectrum. Because it was winter in North America, there were a lot of Americans and Canadians from cold weather locations. There were also a significant number of French-speaking people onboard, probably due to the fact that French is one of the official languages spoken in Polynesia. While the average age of the passengers was probably somewhere north of 60, the group was quite active and lively. There were a significant number of newlyweds, both young and old. There were no small children and only a couple of teenagers. IMO, this would not be a great cruise to bring small kids. There were a few wheelchair-bound passengers but not very many. The ship’s staff did an excellent job accommodating those with special needs. Final Thoughts This was our first cruise on Paul Gauguin and the first visit to Polynesia. Both experiences were beyond excellent. The staff on the ship went out of their way to make sure that every passenger was having a great time. The waiters in the dining rooms made a point of quickly learning everyone’s names, addressing each of us by name as we came and went. After a couple of days, they learned where we liked to sit and what we liked to eat and drink. I felt a little like Norm from Cheers whenever I walked into one of the dining rooms and was greeted with a friendly shout-out, “Welcome Sir Bob”. Among the most impressive staff members was the tireless Sommelier, Eduardo, who seemed to be everywhere. He quickly recognized that my wife and I were wine fans. Whenever we sat down for lunch or dinner Eduardo quickly found us and went out of his way to make sure that we tried the best from his sizable wine list. Very impressive. As for Polynesia, the beauty of some of the lagoons defies description. Rugged mountains, clad with tropical vegetation, contrasting dramatically with the colors of the calm water that range from crystal-clear to a Tanzanite blue and everything in between. We visited seven islands on this voyage. Bora Bora, Moorea and the private Motu, (island) near Taha’a were the most memorable. The ship stayed overnight in Bora Bora as well as Moorea which allowed us to take in more of what these islands have to offer. One of the things that helped to make this trip so great was that, unlike many of our travel adventures, nothing went wrong. Although it was the rainy season, aside from a few sprinkles, we never had any weather issues. It was hot and humid but not oppressively so. The people on the ship and on the islands were all friendly, welcoming and helpful. Polynesia and Paul Gauguin are great combination. I am hopeful that we will be able to visit again. Maybe when the rumored new ship goes into service sometime in the next couple of years. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I feel that the ship was terrific in all ways except Communication between the Activities/Excursions office and the passengers. Since they no longer print out the daily opportunities, many people stated that they had missed some as they ... Read More
I feel that the ship was terrific in all ways except Communication between the Activities/Excursions office and the passengers. Since they no longer print out the daily opportunities, many people stated that they had missed some as they didn't know they were occurring. Yes you can pull it up on the t.v. or get a printout after 6 p.m. from the Desk, but there's so much more convenience in having a piece of paper to mark on and carry about during the day (Old school I know, but still it works better we feel). Thank you! The dining room managers were awesome and the servers always cheery and attentive. They remembered our names and our special requests from the day before - they are so well trained! Thank you to all! Our cabin was comfortable and had well-designed storage. The outside deck was comfortable and spacious for two. The linens were very nice, and the bed very comfortable. Having room service for breakfast was great as the food arrived in a timely manner allowing us to prepare for the early excursions. We enjoyed every minute! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Visiting the South Pacific has always been a dream of mine. As my wife was approaching her 60th birthday we decided to make this dream a reality and chose Paul Gauguin cruises. First, we are ardent cruisers having done more than 30 to ... Read More
Visiting the South Pacific has always been a dream of mine. As my wife was approaching her 60th birthday we decided to make this dream a reality and chose Paul Gauguin cruises. First, we are ardent cruisers having done more than 30 to date. We are not brand loyal and choose our cruises based upon their itineraries. Prior to Paul Gauguin, our smallest ship had been the Oceania Nautica at 682 passengers. There was quite a bit to like about this cruise: staterooms were much larger than expected given the size of the ship and number of passengers. There was a lot of shelving space available, more than enough for all of our clothing and other assorted goods. Embarkation was a breeeze. We were told in advance that boarding would begin at 3:00 pm. At 2:55 we were given the OK and were in our stateroom within minutes. Our bags were promptly delivered within a half hour. The food and service were the best we've experienced on any of our cruises. Whether in the main dining room or either specialty restaurant, service quality was high and the food was excellent, though I would give La Verandah a slight edge in ambience and menu. I would really like to highlight amazing service offered by Raffy, one of the head waiters. My wife has a gluten allergy which we reported prior to sailing. Raffy was in charge of 36 people with dietary issues. Each night, he would find us and present us with the menu for the next day, whether it be in the main dining room or one of the specialty restaurant. One night, we went to the wrong restaurant and he still tracked us down. Unlike other ships, my wife could order anything on the menu and it would be prepared gluten free. Incredible service!!! On another occasion, I had slipped on an excursion and skinned my knee quite badly. William, one of the deck stewards, we had gotten to know quite well, noticed my injured knee and promptly brought a first aid kit and attended my injury. He cleansed the would with alcohol, sterilized it with iodine and then gave me some bandages to help protect it. Once again, great service above the call of duty. Our cruise director, Artur, was a quirky fellow... in a good way. He had a very impish personality and always seemed to have a glint in his eye. He was also a very good magician and hosted a few sessions with interesting sleight of hand. I also have to give kudos to the crew who supported the tender transfers. At Rarotonga, sea swells had to be at least 8 feet, yet they still managed to get people ashore and back. Four able bodied seamen had the routine down pat to time the swell and help passengers move to/from the ship and tender. I've been on other cruises with much calmer seas where tenders had been cancelled. On the other hand, there were a couple of concerns about this cruise that I would like to express. This ship was designed with a shallow hull to facilitate transit in lagoons. This design element was also a deficiency in the deep seas. This was without question, the rockiest ship I have ever been on. Even in relatively mild seas, this ship yawed and rolled quite a bit. The ship is also showing its age. It could use a refurb to bring it up to current cruise standards. There is some wear and tear and it lacks what is now basic technology on other cruise ships. For example, they are going paperless with their itineraries posting them electronically on the TV set in your stateroom and in the elevators. This proved to be quite a nuisance. If they want to save paper I would recommend sharing this information electronically on free WIFI as many other cruise lines now do. Finally, and I profess that I like to be entertained, I found entertainment on this ship lacking in both variety and quality. As a luxury cruiseline, I expected a higher standard. Although "Les Gaugines" were excellent hostesses, their routines became repetitive by the end of an 1 day cruise. During the day, activities were limited as well. I am used to having options on larger cruise ships and would have appreciated a bit more variety on this one. Evening shows were adequate, with British singing duo of Mark and Abby being a standout, as was the Polynesian dance troupe from Tahiti. All in all though, this was a great cruise and is one that I would recommend. Happy to answer any questions you may have. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose 11 nights to really make it worthwhile (Tahiti is a long way from Canada). We were so pleased to be able to visit the Cook Islands as well as the Society Islands. The magical pristine beauty of the islands, the wonderfully ... Read More
We chose 11 nights to really make it worthwhile (Tahiti is a long way from Canada). We were so pleased to be able to visit the Cook Islands as well as the Society Islands. The magical pristine beauty of the islands, the wonderfully welcoming and interesting Polynesian people, and the joys of a small, superpbly-appointed cruise ship, all contributed to our best cruise yet. We loved that the ship went right into lovely lagoons. Access to the destination islands by tender boat was easy and convenient. Our stateroom was perfect in every way. Much more is included than on other cruises - such as tipping, all restaurants, and alcoholic beverages. The staff were so thoughtful and friendly. The cuisine was top-notch! Make sure to book "La Grill" for an outdoor dinner by the pool, for the nights you are anchored in Moorea and Bora Bora. Magical! The cruise line-owned beaches at both Taha'a and Bora Bora, are wonderful days with everything you could want. If you are a morning person, head to the stern to La Palette to watch the sunrise with a morning snack and coffee, while waiting for breakfast service to begin at The Grill or La Veranda. Please don't be one of "those" people who puts their towel on a lounge chair to reserve it for the whole day, and then only use it for one or two hours. If everyone just uses a chair when they need it, then there is no shortage of spots. We do wish that there was more shade available on the pool deck for at sea days. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
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