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132 Paul Gauguin Cruises Luxury Cruise Reviews

Over the top service always with a smile! Wonderful, relaxed small ship atmosphere where you get to know the other 330 passengers onboard. We loved requesting a "table to share" in the evening to meet other folks. Fun ... Read More
Over the top service always with a smile! Wonderful, relaxed small ship atmosphere where you get to know the other 330 passengers onboard. We loved requesting a "table to share" in the evening to meet other folks. Fun nightly entertainment. The local Polynesians onboard with us the entire cruise to entertain and share with us about the culture were outstanding. Never a problem getting a good seat in the evening for the shows. So nice to feel pampered and not like you're being herded around in large groups like on the large ships. Definitely could have used better information about the shore excursions as what we were told was sometimes incorrect or lacking information that was important. Having the shore excursion talks available in the cabin television would be helpful. Snorkeling excursions were fabulous. Rangiroa at the local aquarium and Fakarava at the South Pass were highlights. The Aqua Walk was a bit disappointing compared to other options. Wish they had someone who did underwater videos of our snorkeling. Good food. Liked having the tips all included but still tipped extra for our cabin housekeeping and an extraordinary waiter we had everyday. Such a totally different experience than when we've sailed on large ships. Arriving several days early to get acclimated was fantastic. A superior horizon overwater bungalow at the Sofitel Hotel in Moorea was a fantastic option for us. Arrived late night via Air Tahiti Nui. Had a room at the Intercontinental Tahiti with extensive breakfast buffet. The next morning we took the ferry over to Moorea for two nights. We loved it so much that we went back for two more nights after our cruise. The ferry departs near where the Paul Gauguin arrives so it is very convenient. Take the Aremiti 6 rather than the Terevau. Much better experience. They mention that boarding begins at 3 p.m. but I would emphasize that it is best to be there as shortly after as possible that so that you can get settled in your cabin before the life boat drill and dinner. We would highly recommend Paul Gauguin for a relaxed cruise with gorgeous destinations. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
So, this cruise was highly recommended by our travel agent and so we listened and booked it. So right from the get-go after final payment we received the airline reservations for a flight out of LAX that would not arrive until 10:30PM in ... Read More
So, this cruise was highly recommended by our travel agent and so we listened and booked it. So right from the get-go after final payment we received the airline reservations for a flight out of LAX that would not arrive until 10:30PM in Papeete and then they would transfer you to the ship. I am saying why? So, we'll board at Midnight? Yes. Well there goes your boarding experience and no dinner for that evening. Meeting at the airport and transfers to the ship were great, waiting and standing in the rain to board not so much fun. Day 1 of cruise gone! Cabin was great, luggage was already there waiting. The ship is quite old, but clean. I have no real complaints about the ship. Dining experiences were awesome all credit goes to the staff. The menus at the 2 restaurants that you must make reservations for have the same menu every night (bad idea). Earliest you can eat dinner is 6:30PM Food was very good though. All entertainment starts at 9:30PM and that just does not work for us, we did manage to stay up for the Beatles from the Philippines but ended up leaving early, they tried, but sorry out of sync and out of tune. It was the only show we went to. Other activities were going on throughout the days and evenings and the ones we did go to were good. But it should be mentioned that a lot of these activities start at 6:30PM so we did not get to meet the Captain as we had dinner reservations, we did not get to make a Tahitian flower crown for the wife as we had dinner reservations. The fitness center is very small and very crowded and most time we had to wait for a machine to workout. The Public rooms, Bars we awesome and we had a good time. Service throughout the ship was excellent as well as the staff, enough cannot be said about the wonderful staff. The shore excursions we took were average and nothing to get excited about. So let's talk about the Islands...first one we go to is Huahine and I have to say why? Why the heck do they go there? Tender from the ship to the opposite side of the Island and take the shuttle to town 30 minutes away and two stores were open, gezzz what a waste of time. Second one is their private Island Taha'a and it was great and had a good time there until it rained, and everyone scrambles to get back to the ship via tender. Third stop Bora Bora for two days. Toured the Island and went shopping, second day went on the glass bottom boat, it was OK but overcrowded. Next stop Moorea for two days, day one it rained the whole time of our tour around the town and the shops we went to, OK but missed all photo opportunities due to the clouds. Second day we went shopping until it started raining again and again a battle for the tender back. I believe Moorea would have been by far the best Island, but rain prevented most of the great experiences. So finally, back to Papeete and we get there at 7:00PM and receive our Dis-Embarkation instructions, I thought embarkation was bad this was really bad. Must be out of cabin by 9:00AM and can't leave the ship until 12:30PM Breakfast does not start till 9:00AM so 3 hours of sitting or waiting, what to do? They do allow you to walk into town, which we did and went shopping and were back by 11:00AM just in time for lunch. Then we wait till 12:30PM to get off and found out the bus was going to take us on a 2.5-hour tour "to waste time" as the guide said because the Hotel they were taking us to was not ready for us. The tour was OK, and the Hotel was very nice but all you get is a room for 4 hours to kill before you have to check out and wait in the lobby for another 1.5 hours before the bus takes you to the airport for your Midnight flight back home. After loading the bus and luggage in a van we get to the airport at 9:15PM and wait another 2.5 hours before boarding. The flight back to LAX is 8 hours and I can’t sleep on a plane, never could sleep in an upright position. So, from 6:00AM in Tahiti to 1:00PM home 33 hours later is not how I would have planned it. We did get about 2-3 hours sleep in the Hotel in Tahiti and wife slept on the plane home. My advice, don’t book your travel plans through Paul Gauguin, book your own flight and get your own Hotel if you need one and get there 1 day before because the earliest flights all seem to get there after 6:30PM and boarding starts at 3:00PM. Also, the earliest flight home starts at 8:40PM so again I would get a Hotel going home (even though you may not spend the night), some place to go and relax before going to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Let me start with the most positive and that is the staff especially waiting, bar and housekeeping. They are truly amazing and the best I have found on a cruise ship. I'm not gonna bother going into detail about every nook and ... Read More
Let me start with the most positive and that is the staff especially waiting, bar and housekeeping. They are truly amazing and the best I have found on a cruise ship. I'm not gonna bother going into detail about every nook and cranny on the ship, many other people have written reviews about the number of coat hooks on the back of the door et cetera. Let's start with the ship! It's old and dated and poorly maintained. Even whilst waiting to board I was surprised at the amount of rust which has been painted over, on embarkation walking up the first flight of stairs there are dents in the wall, I was hoping that this would not be a sign of things to come as it is a lower deck but unfortunately the whole ship is showing far too many signs of wear and tear for cruise line who have such a glowing reputation. The swimming pool on deck eight is reminiscent of one found on old liners such as the Titanic! Huge great big varnished wooden sides protruding above the deck, the varnish is blistered and pealing, and you have to be careful not to snag your swimming costume or indeed get a splinter from the varnish. In general the furniture in communal areas are well past their use by dates, especially in the La Palette where the seating is stained and ripped. On the outside areas if you like rust and dripping paint you will love this ship! The cabins are a great size and in good condition but hideously dated, all brown gloss varnished wood, the wall units were obviously built for old-fashioned tube style TVs with a great big plinth protruding, obviously this is not needed anymore for the small flat screen mounted at the back, it just gives some sort of indication as to the date! If you're expecting a modern glitzy state-of-the-art cruise ship you will be sorely disappointed. The overall cruise experience unfortunately did not live up to the billing! I think the itinerary is poor, granted I could and should have done far more research on the itinerary but I assumed it would be paradise. In fact cruising at sea for two days to arrive at the Marquesas Islands which pretty much all look the same, with very little to do which is not helped by the fact that there are no beaches and no access to the water; once you have done one island you have done them all. Other than the embarkation port of Tahiti every other destination you have to be tendered to the pier on the island, I imagine I have spent probably 12 hours over the two weeks waiting in line for a tender which is as the cruise ship old and antiquated, you get covered in exhaust fumes and we seem to wait an inordinate amount of time on the tender before it departs. If you wish to get an early tender, be warned that unless you have booked a cruise ship excursion through Paul Gagarin you will not be allowed on the tender as they get first priority. Information given by the travel concierge on the ship I found to be poor, badly informed and contradictory. The talks provided by the travel concierge about the upcoming islands are repetitive and very sales based. I personally find one of the travel concierge to be consistently rude. I was under the impression you are able to do what sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding off the back of the ship, this is true however on our 14 day cruise there were only two days when they offered this! The entertainment on the ship was atrocious, laughably bad but as there is nothing else to do (other than drink the lovely all-inclusive drinks) you find yourself being lulled into it only to ask yourself "what the hell am I doing here". I'm not going to name any specifics as you get to know all the entertainers as it is such a small ship they obviously spend time with you on the ship or on excursions. If you like "it ain't half hot Mum" (an old English sitcom) you might enjoy it! The food on the ship was fine, good at times but nothing to write home about, in fact the best meals we had during the three weeks we were away was in restaurants in Tahiti (definitely worth trying Le soufflé in Papeete) and Bora Bora. Still, we didn't go there for the food! Probably the best day we had was on their own private island of Motu Mahana. We did meet some really nice people and we had some good experiences, it was my girlfriends first experience of a cruise as she has never been keen on the idea, suffices to say she has no intention of ever cruising again! I understand the ship is having some sort of refit in April 2020 in Singapore, apparently it is only for two weeks so how much they will be able to modernise and renew such a small window I do not know! Personally I think they should scrap it! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Wow, what a fantastic experience! My wife and I had been looking forward to seeing the Marquesas islands for the first time. The Gauguin only makes a few trips to these wonderful islands 3 or 4 times per year. There is simply no better ... Read More
Wow, what a fantastic experience! My wife and I had been looking forward to seeing the Marquesas islands for the first time. The Gauguin only makes a few trips to these wonderful islands 3 or 4 times per year. There is simply no better way to visit them. Over the span of a week, we were able to visit 4 unique islands and their authentic local population. Some islands have only 350-850 residents. We met locals who were so proud to show us their islands. Some of the sights were awe inspiring. It's impossible to overstate how much we appreciated the ship's crew and their friendliness. We were onboard only a few days and everyone seemed to know our names. Our cabin was nice, with a balcony. Our stewardess Sharonette kept things tidy and clean every day. The included fully stocked mini bar was always replenished. We had room service breakfast quite a few times, especially nice on the sea days so we could sleep in. The casino had tournaments for roulette and black jack and we had a great time even when I lost. Casino hosts Roderick and Mirella were outstanding. The dining is exceptional, our favorite was the lobster dinner. My wife and I liked it so much John Paul our waiter ordered us another entrée to our surprise and enjoyment. The sommelier Eduardo is top notch and we loved his choices. The trip was an experience my wife and I will always cherish. The ship, it's crew and islands are truly an incredible combination. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Was for our 10th wedding anniversary ,disappointed in the ship and how old it is inside for the 1st since we have cruised we didnt take any pictures of the interior ,the only good thing is that it's going in for major changes just ... Read More
Was for our 10th wedding anniversary ,disappointed in the ship and how old it is inside for the 1st since we have cruised we didnt take any pictures of the interior ,the only good thing is that it's going in for major changes just dont change the crew they are excellent had a great room attendant and server manny in la veranda , love the stops in Bora,Janine,tahaa,moorea fakarava was nothing special unless you dive , the average age was mayb an issue but it's the ships decor that was real bad ,room service was great food was good enough just was expecting more for the money we spent but in the end although the crew were good it didnt justify the money spent free wifi and some excursions would have made it a better deal but it just the look of the interior of the ship which will remain with us just wasnt luxury at all even at the tender arrivals old carpets and nothing luxurious about waiting area other cruise lines do a better job but I'll be honest this is our opinion because people looked happy mayb just wasn't for us . Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
My husband and I were looking forward to this luxury cruise on Paul Gauguin. We have cruised many times in our 36 years of marriage and do not have an alliance with any cruise line. We are most interested in the itinerary. Embarkation ... Read More
My husband and I were looking forward to this luxury cruise on Paul Gauguin. We have cruised many times in our 36 years of marriage and do not have an alliance with any cruise line. We are most interested in the itinerary. Embarkation was poorly done. We were advised to arrive at or after 3PM. We arrived at 2:45pm to a line completely in the sun. Buses were backing up running their exhaust into the guest awaiting to board. No where to sit, no shade. At 3pm we were allowed to entire and check in was quickly done in the grand salon. The ship itself is very plain, nothing pretty and in much need of an update. Although everything was very clean. The pool area is very small and there are no hot tubs. The service was nothing special, the same as I've had on other ships and poor in some areas. At breakfast and lunch especially you are encouraged to go to the buffet. You were discouraged from ordering off the fixed menu. Even felt uncomfortable to ask for a soda with lunch and never asked for a refill. The food was excellent at dinner. Most breakfasts and lunch for average. Meal times were breakfast 7am to 10 am, lunch 12 pm to 2pm, tea 4 to 5pm and dinner 6:30pm to 9pm. If you were on an excursion or wanting to eat at a different time room service was available. Entertainment was weak with a few exceptions. The Guaguines a group of Tahitian young people were very entertaining. Though not professional they did their best to entertain us. Polynesian night a local group was brought on and they were great as well. Sitting at the pool there was no band or music during the day. The ports of call were all wonderful and the reason most must come on this cruise. Although when getting off the ship there isn't anyone handing out maps or answering questions. Would be nice if they handed out water bottles as well. The cruise director and assistant were not around much. Actually didn't even know there was an assistant until she was introduced and sang one night. Only 1 trivia over the 7 nights. The lectures were very good and informative. To sum it up. I was disappointed in the ship itself but loved the ports of call. I would return to this area of the world but on another ship. I have been on true luxury cruises and unfortunately this fell short in many areas. Embarkation time of 3pm when needed to checkout of the hotel at 11am is a real problem. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We planned this trip a year in advance to celebrate anniversary and birthday and were not disappointed. We travelled with our favorite traveling companions but also met many wonderful and interesting people from around the world. The ... Read More
We planned this trip a year in advance to celebrate anniversary and birthday and were not disappointed. We travelled with our favorite traveling companions but also met many wonderful and interesting people from around the world. The service was outstanding in our opinion, especially our favorite waiter Philip and especially in the Veranda restaurant. Those people who rated the service as less probably had a bad waiter. We enjoyed all the meals especially the themed lunch buffets and special gourmet dinners each night. Seafood was offered every dinner and most lunches. Breakfast buffets were the same menu each morning but were still great and you could order any special you wanted e.g. custom omelettes. Staff throughout the ship was attentive and friendly And free liquor of all types with meals, poolside, piano bar. etc. Snorkeling trips were the highlight of our excursions. The only negative was that even though we had signed up way in advance for many trips, some were cancelled because they were not full or because of equipment problems. So maybe a better way to insure trips went without a full load or screening of outside vendors would be in order. The biggest negative had nothing to do with the ship but the airline which was chosen for the package. Air Tahiti Nui has bragged about brand new 787 planes but they are configured for maximum number of seats and the 8 hour flight was extremely uncomfortable. Could hardly fit in the seats and forget about trying to eat on the trays in your lap. Worst International flight I have ever been on compared to Air France, Lufthansa, United etc Also we requested a deviation on our return flight to spend more time in Tahiti. In doing so we lost our ability to enjoy an afternoon in a day room with a meal and shower. Paul Gaugin should have included this since we paid the same price was those flying back home directly It was a long idle time wait with baggage between 10 AM ship debarkation and 11:50 PM return flight. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Summary: the islands and waters of French Polynesia are beautiful, exotic, and clean. The towns and roads are populated by people who are friendly, charming, inviting, and helpful. And I highly recommend you visit them on a cruise ship ... Read More
Summary: the islands and waters of French Polynesia are beautiful, exotic, and clean. The towns and roads are populated by people who are friendly, charming, inviting, and helpful. And I highly recommend you visit them on a cruise ship (especially if you are a scuba diver)…once alternatives to Paul Gauguin become available. The M/S Paul Gauguin is a tired, clunky ship staffed by crew ranging from competent through lazy to actively obstructionist. I have been on many cruise lines, ranging from economy Norwegian to top-end ultraluxury Sea Dream (more expensive than Paul Gauguin…but just barely), and I can honestly say that I have never been on a cruise where so many times I have been told “no.” For example, when we discovered that the chef aboard the Sea Dream II was Polish, we asked half-jokingly if he would be making pierogies…and that night, freshly made pierogies were waiting for us. That’s service. On the much less expensive (but still luxurious in its own right) Regent Seven Seas Navigator when we asked for a glass of white port only to be told they had none, they had the requested wine FLOWN IN the next day. That's service. I appreciate that Tahiti is much further from other population centers than the Caribbean (Sea Dream, Silverseas), Bermuda (Norwegian), or Alaska (Regent) and this makes certain requests for things they do not have on-hand impractical. But I was never told “no” to any reasonable request and the more upscale lines, and even Norwegian in most cases, bent over backwards to meet every guest request. Not so with Paul Gauguin, whose onboard philosophy is less customer-centric than a cheap airport motel. Every day our experience was sullied by a refusal to do some minor thing that was easily within the staff’s ability. For example: I requested a particular drink at the pool bar that required ice cream. “We don’t have any ice cream,” says the barkeep. “But…” I stammer, confused that a passenger should have to explain basic customer service to a cruise employee, “there’s ice cream at the Le Grille.” I should explain that Le Grille is the group of tables constituting one of the three onboard restaurants when they close the doors at night, during the day it is the more-or-less open eating station for breakfast, and it is (surprise!) on the other side of the pool. And we’re not talking one of those Olympic pools aboard an 8,000 passenger superliner, but a walk of (I counted them) 42 steps. So, I walked those 42 steps, got some ice cream, walked the other 42 steps back, and told the bartender to make my drink. Which he did with an extra dollop of sullenness, although he had no other customers occupying his time. Speaking of ice cream, I became rather fond while aboard the Norwegian Dawn of their strawberry ice cream made on-board and which you could get at the pool any time of day; if they didn’t have any, they’d send for it. (On a similar note, once at the bar on the Silversea they didn't stock the particular alcohol at that one bar, but within minutes they had it sent over.) What was the answer when I asked for some on the Paul Gauguin at the evidently outrageous hour of 2 o’clock in the afternoon? No. Oh and the next day, I tried an experiment and asked for a toasted almond (which requires just milk, no ice cream) at the bar. “No, we don’t have any milk.” What!? I realize that this sounds nitpicky. And perhaps it is. But I cannot stress just how expensive Paul Gauguin is…this is one of the most expensive luxury cruise lines IN THE WORLD. And this attitude of the guests being a burden and an inconvenience extends far beyond just the on-board experience and permeates every aspect of their business. Their vendors, for example, are simply unacceptable and company staff could not care less when informed that their vendors have made the most outrageous mistakes. When we arrived at LAX, a Paul Gauguin staffer met us and briefed us on what to expect upon arrival at Tahiti, and confirmed that our printed boarding paperwork included a hotel (a different hotel than what most guests stay at, but we didn’t know that at the time) and transfer information. Well, when we arrived at Tahiti, we quickly found the transfer vendor but she refused to allow us on the van because we weren’t on her list. We showed her our paperwork: her company, her van, and its destination. No. Can you please call Paul Gauguin, here’s the phone number? No. Can you at least CALL YOUR OWN OFFICE? No. And off the van drove, leaving us in a foreign country and no idea how to proceed. We eventually found a taxi that would provide a receipt, but the hotel turned out to be different than the usual one used by Paul Gauguin: much less nice and, important to us at that moment, not the one with a Paul Gauguin representative. I won’t tell you our woe of contracting food poisoning at that hotel, as I can’t in good faith blame that on Paul Gauguin, but it definitely didn’t add to the quality of the start of the voyage. The next day when we contacted Paul Gauguin at the correct hotel (the infinitely more delightful Intercontinental, which I may write a standalone review of) we were told that once onboard that Concierge would take care of everything. Except that took two hours of waiting and re-explaining to each new person we were passed off to (we never did see the person who Paul Gauguin customer service told us to specifically ask for), with each one humming and hawing about how this isn’t standard practice and they could give us credit for a future cruise and me having to show our receipt and the email from customer service yet again, just to get our $50 back. My goodness, Silversea or Regent would probably have fired their vendor and upgraded us to a suite right then and there. Not quite a “no” but in the same spirit of not caring about passengers: don’t believe the final return time posted for the shore tenders. If it’s within a half hour of the posted time and the crew don’t see passengers walking towards them, they pack up and head back to the ship. Now you might think that’s impossible because they know if all the passengers are back, and on most cruises you’d be right. But Paul Gauguin only has the passenger ID card reader back on the ship, not at the tender tie-up, so they would not have a clue if somebody was missing when they start the engine and abandon the remaining passengers. On a side note, whilst on the Sea Dream II (again, only very slightly more expensive than Paul Gauguin), a couple missed the sailing due to a delayed flight and the captain HELD THE SHIP UP AT THE PORT so the inter-island puddle hopper could get them to the ship. That’s service; but being told that I could not make my own choice from the “complementary” wines is not. Once again, no. Oh but when I asked about this on the Regent, they actually manually typed up a list of all the complementary wines just for me so I could, if I wanted to, decide which wine I wanted for which meal. Again, service. Our amidship cabin was satisfactory; it did have the usual minor creaks in the middle of the night common to older boats (the Regent Navigator, a converted Soviet research vessel, is notorious for this). In moderate seas the ship pitches quite a bit, so bring those seasickness patches* (then again, we were recovering from food poisoning). Curiously the ship doesn’t really roll, it only pitches; so there are certain areas like the Spa near the center of the ship where the movement of the boat isn’t noticeable. At either end of the ship, it becomes very evident: I took a video of the small pool sloshing back and forth like a tub of water being carried down a flight of steps. This becomes a real problem when it comes to the two restaurants located in the stern, and especially L’Etoile, which is not only at the end of the ship and therefore most subject to seesawing in the waves, but is directly over the engine room—and the engine struggles mightily with the waves. *You can get seasickness medicine at the concierge. However, unlike other very small ships that are susceptible to waves even under moderate conditions, all they provide is over-the-counter Dramamine (which makes you drowsy); Sea Dream offers newer drugs that are much more effective assuming you take them in advance. The Seven Seas never left the protected waters of the Alaskan inside passage, Norwegian ships are too big to be affected by moderate seas, and I already had a patch on for the Silverseas; so I don’t know how those cruise lines deal with this. Here’s a hint: if while at sea you sit in La Veranda or especially, no exceptions, L’Etoile, insist on a table along the perimeter of the dining room. They’ll all pitch up and down as the ship passes over the waves, but the tables in the middle of the area shake so badly that you can not only feel it in your bones, but silverware loudly clatters and glasses slowly vibrate their way across the tablecloth. By the way, two comments on the food and beverages: 1. There is only one upscale restaurant, that being L’Etoile, and the food is equivalent to one of the pay-per-person venues on a Norwegian or Princess. Very good, but not extraordinary (hint: adding foamed milk to everything on the menu does not automatically make it le repas extraordinaire). Le Veranda is good; think all-inclusive Caribbean resort. Le Grille, being only a part-time restaurant, breakfast nook, and eclectic and therefore confusing lunchtime “tea” corner, was very hit-and-miss. Nothing aboard compares to the very best (or for Seven Seas, ordinary) food of their competitors. Oh, and Le Veranda and Le Grille share menus to a large extent. I do appreciate that this ship is based literally thousands of miles from any major landmass and it must be a logistical juggling act to obtain provisions to provide several hundred good-to-excellent meals each day. But do not let that fool you into thinking you will dine on par with Maxine’s—or a Windstar clipper, for that matter. 2. Wine is TERRIBLE. I did not see a single bottle of complementary wine that I could not buy at home for under ten dollars, and in many cases it was a no-name that a quick Internet check showed retail prices of less then six dollars. This is part of a non-stop campaign to get you to upgrade to “premium” (meaning, drinkable) wines. This is a scheme that might belong on a bargain resort in the Dominican Republic (and I’d resent it there, too) but not aboard a luxury cruise ship. This simply inexcusable; on all of my cruises there have always been premium wines available at additional cost (Regent and Sea Dream included all but the very most expensive of spirits, so paying for an “upgrade” would mean a $300 twenty-year old single malt), but never before has a cruise deliberately given passengers wines that they know are simply awful to blatantly force them to pony up. Even on Norwegian, having gotten an upgrade that included the beverage package, had decent wines in the $12 to $25 category. During a voyage that cost A TENTH of the price. My advice: stick with the rosé, it’s hard to screw that up too badly. Or just sail with somebody else—more on that in a moment. Speaking of upgrades: if you possibly can (i.e. you have enough shipboard credits to cover it), get the unlimited Internet plan. Not that it will go any faster—it won’t—but they use a system in which you must actively log out when finished (it’s actually called “logout.com”; Silversea uses this same dysfunctional system). Now, that already means that whoever is using whichever device must actively remember to log out. But there’s a much darker side to this: wireless on board the Paul Gauguin is both spotty and sporadic, and if your signal vanishes—and it does, regularly—you CANNOT LOG OFF. So your minutes keep ticking by, possibly without you even knowing (we used up our entire allotment overnight, when I logged out but did not wait for the confirmatory message “You are logged out”). Also, if you have two browser windows open and you log out of one, the other might still be clocking usage even if you do get the confirmation. If you can, just get the unlimited plan so you don’t have to worry about it. Or, just sail with somebody else—more on that, as I said, in a moment. The Paul Gauguin has a decent little gym but lacks a jogging track or, to put it more generally, any sort of promenade deck (i.e. a deck that goes all the way around the ship). I have never been on any ship where it is impossible to go around the vessel, although on one I did have to climb up and down ladders (stairs). This confused me at first because there is certainly nothing to prevent it in the ship’s design, and then I realized that it is because there WAS a promenade deck, and then they installed rather clumsy-looking partitions to keep people from reaching the stern on that deck, which now constitutes the “balcony” of the suites. Instead, you could walk around the “solar” (sun) deck, which goes around the top-most bar just above the pool (it’s on top of the bar that refused to serve ice cream). Except, it’s exactly 1/20th of a mile around** (so you have to make a 90 degree turn every 20 yards) and more to the point, you can’t anyway, because that bar is ALWAYS closed; and since it’s closed, hey there’s no reason for passengers to go up there (i.e. the only place on the ship where you can actually WALK AROUND) so they keep the stairs roped off constantly. Just to stick the knife in a little deeper, they’ll post a sign on the rope announcing the hours that the deck will be open…but the rope stays there all day and night, day after day. I asked a crewmember if we could go up, since it was the time the sign said the rope would be removed. No. I asked, why? The crewmember shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Oh, and the one time we did get to go up, during the night, all the light are turned on, so there is not one place to view the night sky aboard. That was the single biggest disappointment of all, we were so looking forward to the prospect of seeing unfamiliar southern hemisphere constellations under the famous South Pacific crystal clear skies, and all we had were electric lights blazing. We couldn’t even skyview from shore, as the tenders always return before night (the was one exception, in Bora Bora, but we only had a small area of sky to view, alongside one of the busier streets in French Polynesia…and again, you do NOT want to wait until the posted final tender departure time). **By way of comparison: the Norwegian Dawn (considered a small ship by modern standards) has a promenade deck that is a quarter of a mile around, and on the Harmony of the Sea (pretty much the opposite of the Paul Gauguin or any of its brethren!) it only takes 2.7 laps to burn up a mile. Yes, the Paul Gauguin is a small ship…but TWENTY YARDS? Not that it matters, since they won’t let you up there anyway. Very nice little spa connected to the gym. The stern recreation launch is, for most people, more of a gimmick than useful, as there are no motorized sports (Sea Dream has waverunners) and although in theory they stock sailboards, paddle boards, etc., as a practical matter they never allot time—and certainly never advertise time—to use them, because that time is devoted to pay-per-use SCUBA training. If you are certifying in SCUBA at additional cost, then it may be genuinely useful…if, of course, you can live with the guilt that the additional costs you are paying is resulting in the other passengers not being able to utilize the supposedly free swimming equipment they were promised. (“No swimming from the stern platform!” says the sign. Again, another NO! I asked why and was told it was for my safety. “But if I pay for SCUBA, I can swim. Why is it dangerous for a snorkeler but not for a scuba diver?” Again, a shrug.) I would be remiss if I did not mention the islands. Tahiti itself is very similar to Hawaii; think Kauai not Oahu. Also, the water is really shallow, so you will see only miniature ships everywhere (I’ll talk about this in my summation)—container ships loaded with fifty containers instead of five hundred and oil tankers the size of ferry boats. This of course is a major reason why everything is so expensive; not only does everything have to be brought in from literally thousands of miles away (um, including the beef we got food poisoning from), but they can’t even be brought in aboard large, economically efficient vessels. Bora Bora is just too big to even begin to see much of anything, which is a shame; it’s the place with the most things to see and do. Moorea, practically within kayaking distance of Tahiti, is likely where the Paul Gauguin will dock overnight just before your return, and there are two beautiful inlets with mountain routes leading into the hills. The ship posted a schedule saying we would move overnight from one inlet to the other, and we had done a lot of planning about where we would explore the next day; but when we woke up we were still anchored in the same spot. The other islands were mostly forgettable. Not because they are not beautiful—they are!—but because the ship remains there for so little time you can’t really see anything. Do not pay extra to take the extended voyage to the big atolls (when I say big, I mean BIG—you cannot see to the other side of the lagoon) like Rangiroa unless you are specifically going on a paid SCUBA or, possibly, drift snorkel excursion***. The atolls are breathtakingly beautiful but they are so big and you have so little time that you will at best see a tiny percentage of them. Be aware that if you snorkel or scuba at the famous passes you will, by all accounts (my wife was too anxious and refused to go, but then she won’t go on rollercoasters, either), come across sharks. Big ones. Lots of them. I would have been worried but then I also know that statistics say that the commercial excursions are incredibly safe even if you are being circled by a dozen hammerheads. But if all you are going to do is swim or snorkel from the shore, stick with the shorter cruises around the Tahitian island chain proper. The lagoon beaches are definitely beautiful, but not exceeding Tahitian beaches. ***Warning! While I suppose there is no law against it (then again, there might be), you cannot drift snorkel (or scuba, probably) the atolls on your own. The way these atolls work is they are bathtubs the size of Connecticut with only a few ways for the water to get in and out. So every time the tide changes, so does the irresistible currents flowing first one way, then the other way. I saw a zodiac in a pass loaded with tourists watching dolphins jumping out of the water and each time he pulled up his anchor, he had to gun his 150 horsepower engine to make any headway. A swimmer wouldn’t have a chance, so you NEED A TOUR OPERATOR who will drop you off and pick you up at predetermined spots on either side of the passes. There are two “private” beaches used by Paul Gauguin. The first one is just that, a tiny strip of a beach on somebody else’s land. Almost not worth taking the tender. The other is an entire island—actually a “motu” (a piece of the surrounding atoll separated by a channel of sea from its neighbor)—and that was a lot of fun, although you can walk around the entire “island” in five minutes. Ironically, I would have to say that the highlight of our cruise was the hotel we finished up at (and which most Paul Gauguin guests stay at both before and after the cruise), the Intercontinental. This is close by both the ship pier and the airport (the other hotel we were put at our first night, whose name I will not disclose, is on the other side of the island). Great place, excellent rooms, great (but REALLY pricey) food, and an absolutely brilliant split pool with conventional filtered water on one side, and the ocean spilling through underwater fences on the other side so sealife can and does swim right in; they even have some coral reefs growing in the pool, separated from guests by more screens. The fish—some pretty big ones, too, ranging from four feet long down to tiny colorful aquarium pets—swim freely to and from the ocean, and to and from the artificial reef and the swim area. The irony of this is that the best snorkeling I had, in fact perhaps the most enjoyment I had, during the entire Paul Gauguin cruise…was at the hotel. Final thoughts: for years, Paul Gauguin has had a monopoly on French Polynesia. I read these gushing five-star reviews, including right here on Cruise Critic, and ask “have these people—including some who claim to be professional cruise critics—ever been on an actual luxury cruise ship in a location where it has competition and has to remain on the top of its game in every way to justify charging these huge ticket prices?” Well, the good news is that as of late 2019, competition is indeed on its way; Regent and Windstar have announced they will be bringing their brand of best-in-class service on their own ships, and Sea Dream is launching a new vessel that may eventually rotate there. On the economy end, the tired old Norwegian Pride of America—hopefully with some much-needed upgrades—will start including Tahiti and some surrounding islands as part of its time-honored circumnavigation of the Hawaiian chain, and it will be joined by the Pacific Princess, similar in size to Regent vessels. Due to the shallow seabed you won’t be seeing any mega-ships arriving (and that's definitely a good thing, as unleashing 6,000 passengers on the islands would ruin them), but you will be seeing competition at long last. Which is great news, because the islands and reefs are gorgeous, the people are friendly (even if you don’t speak French!), and the beaches are clean not because some resort is combing them twice a day but because they actually are clean. French Polynesia deserves better representatives of their tourism industry than the lazy and indifferent monopoly held by Paul Gauguin…and so do you. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
The 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
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