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338 South Pacific Luxury Cruise Reviews

We have sailed 2X with Pacific Aria and now did our second trip with the Dawn due to the kids section as we took our son and his family with us which made it their 1st cruise and our 4th cruise. Needless to say the kids play area was too ... Read More
We have sailed 2X with Pacific Aria and now did our second trip with the Dawn due to the kids section as we took our son and his family with us which made it their 1st cruise and our 4th cruise. Needless to say the kids play area was too cold for the kids so there were hardly any kids in there, the main pool was very dangerous as it just went down so he couldn't swim in there as hot tubs just too hot but you could have up to 12 kids in it at anytime.There was hardly any entertainment for the little kids. They only had 2 waiters on top so you had dirty plates and glasses sitting there for hours, no waiters to come and take your drink orders unlike the 1st time. The Aria was on top of their game on that one at all time. Plus the Aria has 3 free restaurants as to only 1 on the Dawn. The Aria Pantry also had more selection as oppose to the Dawn pantry. The waterfront restaurant, I will give our waiter Khaled for table 4 10 out of 10 as not only was he entertaining with my grandson, but alway very polite and helpful. The whole ship could have done with more of him. The entertainment fell down badly. I would rate 2 out of 10.Not good at all. I bought some inch of gold jewellery and when I got home, found that I was given a dodgy clasp that didn't open or close.Won't make that mistake again. The staff although tried to be happy, you could see they were very tired which was sad to see. Needless to say my son and family will never cruise again and we will never cruise the Dawn again. If I could get my money back I would as I paid for all 5 of us. We like to go every 6 month so it will be the Aria until the new port is open with more ships on offer. 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 have been on many cruises on other ships before but never on princess. My daughters went on sapphire princess and since then they keep on telling us to try any princess cruise ship because they are the best. So we booked one and not ... Read More
We have been on many cruises on other ships before but never on princess. My daughters went on sapphire princess and since then they keep on telling us to try any princess cruise ship because they are the best. So we booked one and not just anyone but the Majestic one. The ship itself is grand. The design and furniture inside the ship is very modern and classy. The adults only area called the Hollywood is amazing and no other ship compares. We liked it so much that we went there everyday. The cabins are wide and near providing a fresh feel. The bed matteress and pillow is very comfortable and felt new. The tv was great as it was big in size and the selection of movies on demand was great. Being all free was also a bonus. The food in the dining room and buffet was in an abundance and god quality. There was a wide range of entertainment on board with something always to do. It was our best trip to date and look forward to our next voyage with Princess. Just like the Captain used to say "The magnificent Majestic Princess..." 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
We just returned from our cruise. Fantastic in all ways. Our airplane was cancelled 2 days in a row by Air Tahiti Nui (a whole other matter) and we would not be arriving to Tahiti until 1 hour after the sailing time. We called Windstar ... Read More
We just returned from our cruise. Fantastic in all ways. Our airplane was cancelled 2 days in a row by Air Tahiti Nui (a whole other matter) and we would not be arriving to Tahiti until 1 hour after the sailing time. We called Windstar to see how to meet the ship in Moorea. They got involved with the air company even though we did not book our air through them. Customer service was amazing and they held the ship in port until we arrived. I would not hesitate to book them again. The whole cruise experience, Room, Food, Service is top notch. I even lost my souveniors while tendering and did not realize until I returned I did not have them. They had it in lost and found and are sending them back to me at home. AMAZING! The ship itself is a little worn but very well kept. If you are a snorkeler, the water is so clear and beautiful anywhere we went. The private islands were just what you would think paradise should be. Nothing was too much to ask of anyone. I can't imagine visiting all the places we did with room and food for less money that we paid for the cruise- as long as you can pay a discounted rate. 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
My husband has always wanted to go to Bora Bora and our travel agent told us of this spectacular way to see Bora Bora and French Polynesia. We weren’t disappointed. The Wind Spirit ship and crew are equally as amazing. We enjoyed all ... Read More
My husband has always wanted to go to Bora Bora and our travel agent told us of this spectacular way to see Bora Bora and French Polynesia. We weren’t disappointed. The Wind Spirit ship and crew are equally as amazing. We enjoyed all aspects of this cruise and bar none it was the best of the four cruises (Disney, Royal Carribean, Celebrity) we done so far. Everything from the crew, the ship, the food and the accommodations were five star all the way. You will not be disappointed. They have everything very well organized and nothing is too much trouble for them to do for the guests. We even got Canadian news delivered to our stateroom everyday. That was a nice touch. I liked that the dinner dress code was ‘dress casual’ in the dining room. One night they do a bbq on the deck and shorts are acceptable. Also, they take you to a private motu in Bora Bora for a buffet dinner and show and you can also wear shorts that night. Can’t think of anything that could be improved. We were very satisfied. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My spouse, and my brother and sister with their spouses decided to try to get a vacation together and visit the South Pacific. it was easy to pick the islands around and including Tahiti. Should we cruise to do land tour. After only a ... Read More
My spouse, and my brother and sister with their spouses decided to try to get a vacation together and visit the South Pacific. it was easy to pick the islands around and including Tahiti. Should we cruise to do land tour. After only a brief discussion, we chose Windstar Cruises, Wind Spirit and, boy are we glad! The ship is small, only 148 passengers tops. The staterooms are on two decks, every one of them nearly identical. Practical room with room to hide suitcases. Bathroom only accommodates one at a time, but it works fine. Food, what can we say but, great! Great variety at all meals starting with breakfast. The one "specialty" restaurant is Candles, overseen by Assistant Maitre'd Prast. He and crew of wizards lay out great dinners under the stars on the rear deck. The Wind Spirit's entire crew are always welcoming guest when they see them, a very nice touch. The have a open Bridge Policy. You can tour the bridge at almost anytime. We met several very friendly officers while on the bridge. The Captain, Lyubo Garcityanov is available at all times. We had several very nice and long conversations with the Captain, who told us he evens call his mother regularly. A really nice man. Between ship arranged BBQ's on Motus and crew talent shows, it hard to thinks of a funnier cruise ship on the seven seas! The Wind Spirit is just the ideal ship for those who don't like crowds, who want good food, and the most beautiful islands anywhere. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier ... Read More
The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier Islands, Moorea, Bora Bora and Papeete; Cruise#2: Papeete, Moorea, Tuamotu islands, Marquesa Islands, Hilo, Honolulu This review will cover both cruises. As it turned out, the itienrary had a lot of expedition-style elements: transportation by zodiac, snorkel eqipt. issued, visiting out of the way places (not even listed in Lonely Planet or much on the web about them), an excellent speaker introducing us to the various Polynesian cultures, film programs, some hiking, and excellent local guides. The mix on the ship was about 50% French-speaking and the rest English speaking (consisting of US, Australian/New Zelanders, Europeans) and most programs were offered twice, once for the French speaking, and again for the English speaking audience. Ship announcements were bi-lingual. Food is both restaurants is excellent and I enjoyed the buffet on on the 6th level for most meals as I could "eat and run". Spa services are excellent I liked that the ship had a afternoon reception for those of us traveling on our own so we could meet each other. This is a 5-star ship, with 5-star dining, 5-star services and 5-star amenities (for example, bathroom amenities are from Hermes). Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was a special trip celebrating a milestone 50th birthday. We are well seasoned cruisers and have been on most of the lines except Silversea and Crystal with 60+ cruises under our belt. SUITE: We booked the lowest level suite with ... Read More
This was a special trip celebrating a milestone 50th birthday. We are well seasoned cruisers and have been on most of the lines except Silversea and Crystal with 60+ cruises under our belt. SUITE: We booked the lowest level suite with a guarantee to upgrade to a min cat 3, and received a cat 6 up on deck 11. The room was perfect and spacious. Tons of room, excellent layout, with perfect service from our room stewardess. We had everything we needed in this room and loved the ability to split the room with blackout curtains in half so the early riser didn't disturb the other pax. Bedding quality very high. FINAL SCORE: A+ FOOD; DEFINITELY not 6 star. BIGGEST disappointment of the cruise! The menu in the main dining room was repetitive. Colonnade food comparable to HAL/Princess/Celebrity buffets. Nothing special, too many carbs/starches not enough high quality proteins or veggies. Sliced meats and cheeses were what you would find on other CCL ships. BALONEY served as a tapas? Yup. They also put it out on the buffet and the "Epicurean extravaganza". SERIOUSLY. We paid $450/pp/day to be served baloney? We did enjoy Earth and Ocean several times especially the smoked chicken starter. Fun place to dine weather permitting. TK grill was very good, but doesn't measure up to land based TK restaurants. This was still the best dining spot on the ship. Sushi was nice, pretty typical of what you find on land serving average sushi. But at lunch, due to penny pinching, they didn't serve raw fish. Our best meals were the TK special nights in the colonnade. They felt the most authentic and had cheeses you wouldn't find anywhere else on the ship. Main dining room has some outstanding nights, others it was OK. Just not consistent especially with beef dishes. Our last surprise when it came to food was the ship running out of standard menu items...60+ cruises never had a ship tell me they didn't have the item on the menu we ordered. IF you're a foodie, skip Seabourn and go with another cruiseline (Oceania, Regent). FINAL SCORE: C SHIP: was a perfect size, and never felt crowded. No lines for anything and the layout had great flow. The colonnade could get crowded in the AM requiring you to sit outside during peak hours. This tended to be the only time noticing how many were onboard. Lots of places to hang out and relax. High quality furnishing and art work. FINAL SCORE: A DRINKS: Bars had just about any type of premium liquor you could want. Beer selections were more limited. Want an IPA beer? Nope. How about a wheat beer? Nope. Craft beer? Nope.. You could find a nice selection of complimentary wines some better than others, the staff were more than willing to change out the wine if you were unhappy. Bar service overall was great. Servers couldn't remember what you ordered (they weren't allowed to write it down) and made multiple return visits either to ask again or brought your the wrong drink. This happened in the Observation lounge only. No problems in other venues. Coffee in Seabourn square is excellent. FINAL SCORE: B ENTERTAINMENT: Best was duet in observation lounge, Rachael and Vladi. The lounge band was also fun and played popular music from the 60-80's. They did seem to get a little repetitive in their playlists. CD Chris was prior west end actor/singer and had the best voice on the ship. Wish he would have sang more than twice during 15 days. The main shows were OK and geared towards the 70's crowd. We felt it lacked the energy and excitement of Oceania's ships. Very little stage magic, just singing with no sets or costumes. FINAL SCORE: C ACTIVITIES: Sorry this was sorely lacking. Sea days had very few options. One cooking demonstration in 15 days? Trivia, casino (which opened at 3pm on sea days), lectures or sitting by the pool were about all you had for options. A few games of corn hole (baggo). They did offer nice prizes of high quality. We were so looking forward to the brochure selling us on the "Marina" on the back of the ship. We had several protected bays during the cruise they could have deployed it in, but that never happened. How about the famous and well marketed "Caviar on the surf"? Yeah, never happened. We heard this sometimes turns into "Caviar in the pool"? Nope, Band played ONCE the entire 2 weeks on a sea day by the pool for 1 hour. Maybe a dance party under the stars? Nope, didn't have any. FINAL SCORE: D PORTS: The highlight of the NZ/Australia trip was seeing the Penguins march from the beach in Phillip Island...or that was the plan. Instead the captain decided 14 hours before arrival we would be leaving at 2pm vs 11pm. WHAT? "due to high winds" we needed to leave 9 HOURS earlier than planned! The seas were dead calm when we left the protective bay we tendered at... Like 1-2 ft seas. Barely a ripple in the water. I checked my phone, and the winds were going to pickup slightly in the afternoon (below 20mph). The REAL reason we were leaving early? Terrible seas the next day (sea day) w/25ft+ waves and big winds over 40MPH. We were putting along the entire time at about 12 knots riding the waves like a giant surfboard. Actually most of the time the ship moved it was slowly at 12 knots. We could have cut the crossing from NZ to Australia down to 2 days from 3. We could have skipped Eden vs leaving Philip Island early. Eden had very little to offer. FINAL SCORE: B SERVICE: Employees are the strong suit of Seabourn. Most knew our names after a few days. We were very surprised they could do this with 600 pax on board! They tried to bend over backwards and help with any request. They learned your drink or food preferences. It was the saving grace of our cruise. The people are what makes this ship stay afloat. We felt like we knew crew members on a more personal level too. I will say the officers were invisible most of the time. The crew were always present; ready, willing, and able to serve with a smile! FINAL SCORE A+ IF Seabourn improved the food quality/variety and entertainment/activities, we would consider returning and they could refer to this as a 6 star cruiseline. Until then, we have booked a Silversea cruise leaving in 60 days and will return to Oceania in the future. Food is subjective to a degree, but we have a good idea of what other lines offer and how it compares to Seabourn. I hope someone is listing at corporate office. FINAL SCORE B-. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
It is with great sadness that I am writing this review as I have never had to write a negative review before, however we have written to Seabourn since returning home and as they refuse to accept responsibility for issues then I feel it is ... Read More
It is with great sadness that I am writing this review as I have never had to write a negative review before, however we have written to Seabourn since returning home and as they refuse to accept responsibility for issues then I feel it is my responsibility to inform potential customers of potential problems.. We chose the cruise as part of a long holiday to New Zealand. We had travelled on Seabourn Encore the previous year to Australia and were mainly satisfied so we didn’t hesitate to book again. There was not much availability so our cruise consultant chose a cabin for us. Our cabin was appalling, ( see review below). We tried to change cabin, we were more than willing to pay to upgrade but the head of Guest Services said she would come back to us and never did.( we had already tried to get info about the cabin before leaving the UK) It was very galling to see the Seabourn Venture staff and even guest entertainers had cabins in better areas than we were allowed to purchase. Our first day was ok and then for some reason despite knowing of bad weather the captain decided to sail the ship to Norfolk Island. I had 4 days flat on my back with sea sickness as the swell was a constant 13-19ft and the ship was unstable, making it very uncomfortable to move around. At times it felt very dangerous. As expected we could not tender at Norfolk Island, In fact Seabourn have only tendered 2 out of the last 18 attempts!!!! Why did they attempt it knowing the weather was bad? And why do they not publicise how unlikely it is that the visit to the port of Norfolk Island will be successful? On the 6th day I made it out of bed and managed an excursion but then I started to feel ill. I was in agony. I was forced to see the ships doctor and found out I had streptococcal tonsillitis. Apparently there had been an outbreak on the previous cruise and a few of the crew caught it. We thought it was because nobody is asked to use the hand sanitizer anywhere on the ship and therefore hygiene standards are not as good as they should be. This was not the case when we were on the ship last time. Standards have definitely dropped over the year. I then spent another 3 days in bed, having to visit the doctor again to get stronger pain medication as I was in agony. It cost me 400 dollars through non of my own fault!!!! I have to say that Madeline our cabin attendant was fantastic and tried very hard to help me whilst I was ill. She was very sympathetic and genuinely cared. A credit to Seabourn. I recovered and then managed to enjoy visiting the other ports we did dock or tender at. The food standards have definitely dropped since the previous year. I can only describe the food as very boring, apart from the pool bar at night where at least the food had some flavour. We spoke to so many people who felt the same that we stopped speaking to people as we were not only bored with the food but bored with talking about it!! The entertainment was lack lustre and uninspiring. Cost cutting could be seen in all areas. On a positive the shore excursions were well organised and the staff very friendly. Please be careful when choosing a V1. It is very different to a V6 and I would hate anybody else to run off the ship at the end of a cruise as we did because we could not wait to leave. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I have never been on Oceania before (only Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America and Regent) and after the experience I had, I am going to try and limit my cruise experiences to Oceania, if at all possible. The way I was ... Read More
I have never been on Oceania before (only Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America and Regent) and after the experience I had, I am going to try and limit my cruise experiences to Oceania, if at all possible. The way I was treated, the quality of the ship desgin and materials, the quality of the staff, the itinerary, and most importantly, the dining experience just set this cruise line above all others that I have experienced - and by a wide margin. The cabin (9110) had a large veranda and felt spacious. The bathroom was impressive with a full tub and a rainshower head in the shower. The water was perfect temperature throughout the cruise. Of course, the most important person we met was Lilya, our cabin stewardess and she was nothing short of magnificent - keeping everything so neat and tidy and it always felt the room was in perfect condition. Her warm demeanor meant everything to us and we will always love Ukraine after having her cheerful, professional and detailed assistance every day. We also loved Chrismerelda on our Concierge floor - such a lovely person and so responsive and helpful with our specific needs. In fact, we loved the entire Concierge floor experience - and the espresso machine was worth its weight in gold. We loved the speciality coffee bar on Deck 14 overlooking the pool. We loved the Waves sandwiches, the afternoon tea in horizons, the terrace cafe for breakfast and the Grand Dining Room for nightly dinners (though it was our least favorite experience). And that's because the specialty dining on this ship simply cannot be beat. Toscana was authentic and welcoming. Jaques was a delightful visit to France. Polo Club prepared perfect steaks (and a very inattentive woman as sommalier), and Red Ginger was our favorite of all - with special thanks to the Maitre D' who was nothing short of a true 'boss' - we are indebted to her for our service and experience there. The spa was much better than on other ships and we loved the Canyon Ranch products (especially the post-sun cooling product). Nice gym and very relaxing private spa deck. The theatre space was intimate, as was the lovely piano bar and we enjoyed that. In fact, the ship NEVER felt full (though it was 100% occupied). The artwork throughout the ship made a particular impression on me - from sculpture to paintings and of course the lalique everywhere. It felt more like a luxurious art gallery than a state-of-the-art disco and I appreciated the more sophisticated approach. Besides the speciality dining, I have to say that the approach of charging up front for coffees and sodas and not making me use a card every five minutes felt like a great indulgence and I much prefer that approach. And the specialty dining not having additional charge also made me more relaxed. We didn't purchase any shore excursions because the ports were all accessible and easy for us to navigate to blue waters and private beaches. I loved that the ship was the smallest of all my previous experiences and it felt size-appropriate for Tahitian islands. Embarkation was fast and professional - a tremendous team boarding and leaving. I would dearly love to sail on the Marina again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This cruise went from Papeete, Tahiti, to Lima, Peru, with stops at Bora Bora, Fakarava, Pitcairn Island and Easter Island. At Pitcairn the local inhabitants (descendants of the Bounty mutineers) come on board to sell crafts and eat ice ... Read More
This cruise went from Papeete, Tahiti, to Lima, Peru, with stops at Bora Bora, Fakarava, Pitcairn Island and Easter Island. At Pitcairn the local inhabitants (descendants of the Bounty mutineers) come on board to sell crafts and eat ice cream; one of them gave an interesting talk about life on the island. At Easter Island we were unable to land because of rough seas (apparently a fairly common occurrence). There were a lot of days at sea; two between Fakarava and Pitcairn, and four between Easter Island and Lima. There was a wonderful naturalist, Gloeta Massie, who gave brilliant and funny talks a few times, and a lecturer who talked a few times about Easter Island and Pitcairn. There were a lot of fun programs organized by the staff and the cruise director, Peter Roberts. Excellent bridge lessons and duplicate bridge, putting contests on a mini-golf course, shuffleboard, trivia quizzes and Mensa challenges, some movies. There were shows, music and karaoke that we did not attend because they were late at night. The food was excellent, with four specialty restaurants - Italian, steakhouse, French and Chinese/Asian fusion, with no extra charge. Dining was also excellent in the main dining room and the buffet restaurant. But: The prices for the excursions were exorbitant - about 4 times what is cost for locally arranged excursions - and the transfers were wildly overpriced. Oceania offered airport transfers for $359 US and a hotel transfer for $119 per person. We went online and booked a private car for two of us for $35 with Lima Limo www.limalimo.pe . The driver, Geraldo, was so good that we hired him to take us around Lima that afternoon to see the Larco museum (fantastic!) and the gold museum; he charged us $90 US for 5 + hours; then he took us to the airport the next day from our hotel for $35. One trick: taxis and limos for the most part cannot come to the location of the ship at the cruise pier; you need to take the bus to the pier gate. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ... Read More
I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ever. The staff were happy and did seem more relaxed and content, which helps me feel more relaxed during my vacation. Ambassador hosts were charming and good for company at shared tables even getting me on the dance floor a couple of times. The headwaiter was fabulous and also the wines were fantastic. I did several spa services which were quality and worth the cost. Trivia was again a highlight on sea days and all in all the cruise was filled with movies, lectures, shore tours, and great food, company and beverages. I guess we also hit the jackpot as we did have calm enough seas to get onto Easter Island for the day tours, which is a novel experience. I indulged in some great modern dishes in the dining room and was very well taken care of regarding my dietary restrictions. Also it was great to see that bartenders no longer automatically add straws in every drink. Now I can stop saying "no straw please" with my orders. Oh also I got to play table tennis doubles one afternoon! Kept in shape taking the stairs onboard, walking the promenade deck and snorkelling in Moorea! I highly recommend this itinerary, it was a real getaway and super for getting away from the winter. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ... Read More
We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ship. Now that Crystal has chopped up its cruises into mini 5-day segments, and "relaxed" its dress code, it has become a down-scale cruise line. We have always avoided those 7-day cruise lines because we didn't want the 7-day cruise clientele. Now, that is who pretty much populates Crystal. There was frequent loud, vulgar cursing around and in the pool by clients who have obviously had too much to drink even at 11:00 AM. Baseball hats, flip-flops, athletic shoes, and t-shirts are common in the main dining room. Just read the reviews here on CruiseCritic from Crystal clients lauding the fact they will not even bring a sport coat onto their next Crystal cruise. There was a man in the cabin below us who smoked cigarettes on his balcony, despite it being explicitly prohibited by Crystal. We couldn't use our balcony or open our outside door without having to inhale his second-hand smoke. We complained to the Concierge multiple times, but Crystal was impotent in having him stop. So, WE (not him) had to change our room. Terrible. On the good side, Crystal does have great service. The staff is outstanding. With the elimination of set dining times, the food appears to have gotten even better. We have cancelled all future cruises we had already booked with Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date February 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
We are not new to cruising as this was our 15th cruise but the first with Oceania. We were attracted to Oceania because of the French Polynesia itinerary as well as its reputation for good service and food. We absolutely loved the ... Read More
We are not new to cruising as this was our 15th cruise but the first with Oceania. We were attracted to Oceania because of the French Polynesia itinerary as well as its reputation for good service and food. We absolutely loved the itinerary as well as the very good service by our cabin staff and butler as well as the food in the specialty restaurants. However, we found that the added costs were not compensated by our expectations for value. To begin, we were very disappointed by how we were received upon boarding as well as departing. Our experience with other cruise lines has been that we were greeted with a welcoming drink as well as food available. Likewise, upon departure, we have been provided with coffee and muffins/danish etc. None of this was available on the Marina. We arrived with 200+ people on our 8 hour overseas flight. There was no welcoming drink and by the time we checked in, all food services were shut down. One would think that a table of refreshments would have been provided by the ship. Similarly, upon departing at an early hour (5:40 am), that coffee and a muffin could also have been provided. This was neither a good first or last impression of the cruise. As part of our booking, we were provided with free unlimited internet access. This was a total joke since access was not available in most parts of the ship. Moreover, it was impossible to upload or download photos or documents. Finally, it was impossible to contact others via FaceTime or Skype. On all of our other cruises, this was never a problem, I then learned that for an added $15/day, I could upgrade to unlimited streaming. I did so. However, although I could sometimes (but not always) access FaceTime, I still could not upload photos or download documents. This was particularly concerning since I needed to be reached due to an ill family member. Needless to say, this caused considerable stress. I enjoy working out. The fitness center was tiny and the room for classes was even tinier. On a positive note, the fitness instructor, Diana was superb. She knew her stuff, was inspirational and very nice. There was a sign up sheet for classes which was done to limit the number of passengers attending. However, the fitness staff let in whoever showed up. As a result, there was often 20 passengers in a class that was listed for 12. This made the experience challenging and at times, unsafe. The Terrace Cafe had a limited variety of food. At times, I would have loved to have a scoop of tuna or egg salad. This was never available. Although a crew member was immediately available to serve us water, coffee or juice, anything else was simply unavailable. On three occasions I asked for sparkling water and never received it. The dining room was very pleasing. The staff was great. But the food was hit or miss. Some was excellent while others, just awful. The speciality restaurants were excellent. We especially enjoyed the Red Ginger. We found the cruise offered excursions outrageously priced. We only took one excursion from the ship - a one hour glass bottom boat right for $129/person. We enjoyed it but it was very overpriced. Alcohol prices were similarly overpriced. I didn't order one drink the entire time I was onboard - simply out of principle. The most outrageous cost was the airport to port & return transfer. Since we our flight arrived at 9:40 pm and left at 8:40 am and because we were unfamiliar with the services in Papaeete, we decided to take the transfers. Each one way transfer was $129/person. The ride was under 10 minutes. Worth of all, there were delays at each end. This was utterly ridiculous. From now, we'll stay with Celebrity our preferred cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
A friend took this cruise and I liked that it was a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. We added two days at the front of the trip to stay in a bungalow in the lagoon at the intercontinental hotel. We flew Air Nui Tahiti and even though ... Read More
A friend took this cruise and I liked that it was a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. We added two days at the front of the trip to stay in a bungalow in the lagoon at the intercontinental hotel. We flew Air Nui Tahiti and even though it was in coach, the food was good and lots of free entertainment. Highly recommend is asking if there are any upgrades available as it is much cheaper. PGC took care of everything as there was someone waiting for us at the airport to take us to the hotel. Our bungalow was great as was the hotel. Do bring an adapter for the electricity though the hotel will sell you one and then refund the money upon checkout. Transfer to the ship, check in and settling in room was seamless. The room reminded us of our Airstream - lots of storage and comfortable. The week on board was great. The staff learns your name and I swear they could read minds as they anticipated everything. Food was wonderful and halfway through the cruise, we were asked if we wanted to share a table which we did. We sat with a couple from Texas and other guests and ended up dining with them for the rest of the cruise. We did excursions everyday as we thought that would be the best way for us to see things. Really enjoyed the two private islands. I have arthritic knees and every time I went down the stairs to the launch, two crew members assisted me on andoff the launch. Every morning I ordered a pot of coffee from room service and it was there in less than 5 minutes. At the end of the cruise, we got a tour of Tahiti since we couldn’t check into the hotel til after 2. I thought that we would all get put in one room, but we were checked into individual rooms. We were not impressed with the Tahiti Pearl as they were rather rude. We got the fun around trying to ear dinne4 as their restaurant was closed for a private party, but finall got to eat. When we checked into the airport, I asked if there was any upgrades available and there were in Premier class. So for $350 a person, we got a roomier seat with foot rest. It made the redeye an easier way to sleep. All in all, it was a great trip. Would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; ... Read More
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; we really appreciate the captain taking safety so seriously. The rest of the stops were good. Embarkation in Sydney was fairly easy. The ship is clean and well maintained. The cabin was beautiful, thankfully because we spent a lot of time there. We were surprised that there were no USP ports on a fairly new ship, nor did they have electric do not disturb signs. There were plenty of 220 and 110 outlets throughout the cabin; except for the bathroom. The sea days were boring to say the least. They had trivia at noon. There were a few “conversations” which were lectures not conversations. The onboard entertainers may have been good, but were so loud we had to leave to protect our hearing. The other entertainers were all very good and varied from singer to musicians to comedy. The food was uninspiring. The set menu was always a good option: Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, steaks and lamb. The wine was cheap and the champagne was awful. We expected better than we got. The service was slow. We always had to ask for more water, even after we complained. A few days into the cruise you can fill out a form telling them what was needed. After a few days the restaurant manager talked to us about our problems, but nothing was done either in the main dining room or the other dining places. The bar service was just as bad. I guess, if they ignore you they don’t have to serve as often. The bar servers were uninformed about what was available. Thomas Keller was the specialty dining place, but was a limited menu and not any better than the other restaurants. They did have a nice laundry with 4 washer, 4 dryers and 3 irons and ironing boards. The gym while small had plenty of machines. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We were concerned about the larger Seabourn ships since we had only sailed on the smaller ones previous to this.We liked this better....never seemed crowded except for the pool deck during sail away from Sydney Harbor.The bigger ship gave ... Read More
We were concerned about the larger Seabourn ships since we had only sailed on the smaller ones previous to this.We liked this better....never seemed crowded except for the pool deck during sail away from Sydney Harbor.The bigger ship gave more options which we enjoyed.We were 2 couples neither of which had visited Australia and New Zealand so we thought this would be a good introduction.It was,indeed. We found the service at The Restaurant and at Thomas Keller to be outstanding! The bar service at the Keller lounge (and the piano man) also great. The only drawback for these venues was that caviar service was not available .A few of The Restaurant menu highlights included leek confit, grilled scallops, ribeye steaks, grilled scampi ,spring rolls, short ribs,lobster ravioli and lamb shank. At Thomas Keller we enjoyed Dover sole,Veal t-bone,roasted whole chicken(2 people), caesar salad prepared tableside, crab cakes. House Champagne is Nicolas Feuillatte which is a tad acidic for some tastes, is perfect in a Kyr Royale. Wines included with no surcharge included Tyrell's Verdelho, St Hallets Shiraz, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, Kim Crawford Pinot Noir, a good overall selection.The Seaboun Square which is not on the old smaller ships is a great addition...the coffee bar wins rave reviews. The lectures were diverse, interesting, well prepared and available for rebroadcast on demand on your suites' TV. The "Ventures" team was often scheduled on deck to answer questions when they were not leading an excursion. The tour highlight was a Zodiac trip in Milford Sound, NZ surrounded by thousands of waterfalls.The bridge instruction classes were outstanding, the trivia games a lot of laughs. The main entertainers appealed to us about 50% of the time. We did not miss a night of the piano in Keller's Bar. The one major complaint we have is that when we embarked we received a photocopied revised itinerary which eliminated the port of Timaru, substituting Lyttelton.Timaru is where in Feb 2017 the Encore broke loose and hit another vessel....since then the port has begun some repairs to allow cruse ships to again use the port but not yet. Seabourn,of course knew this long before sail date and you would expect out of common courtesy they would have informed all the guests. It was our only chance to get close to Mt Cook.Perhaps it's not bait and switch,but poor management. Whew,I should really point out the super high quality of every employee we interacted with on this sailing.We wish the on shore places we visit on a daily basis could take a lesson.THANKS! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
For the middle-aged and older crowd, this cruise was amazing! We arrived in Papeete a day early to insure we made the ship on time in case of any flight/weather issues. We stayed at the Intercontinental on Tahiti, which was very nice and ... Read More
For the middle-aged and older crowd, this cruise was amazing! We arrived in Papeete a day early to insure we made the ship on time in case of any flight/weather issues. We stayed at the Intercontinental on Tahiti, which was very nice and they also had a fabulous Polynesian show the night we were there. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, no problems. The thing I liked about Marina is that is is a smaller ship, so less people. No crowded, stuffed elevators, no long waits in line for food, and best of all, no kids! I think there were 2 kids on the ship, but it's not geared toward kids, so there's nothing for them to do really. The food was amazing, absolutely the best meals I've ever had on a cruise ship. It was eating a gourmet meal every time you sat down to eat, even upstairs in the café! The specialty restaurants were just as wonderfully delicious and very gourmet. All of the drinks anywhere on the ship were fantastic! There was actually liquor in them! On all our other cruises, we end up just not drinking because the drinks have so much juice, you can't tell it's a drink.These were top-notch! We had Mai-Tai's, Cosmos, Piña Coladas, and they were all excellent. On every other regular cruise line, I gave up and stuck to Rum & Coke, because the fancy drinks were just terrible. Service on this ship was impeccable. We never had to ask for anything, ever. Staterooms were always ready, clean, chocolates on the bed, mats on the floor by our bedside, slippers, robes, ice bucket filled. The entire staff was friendly and welcoming and very diverse. We were offered an upgrade at a reduced price from a balcony room to a penthouse suite a week before the cruise....we accepted and were so glad we did! Lots of room and plenty of shoe and drawer space! Walk-in closet, gorgeous bathroom with a tub/shower AND a shower. Always stocked. Always clean. There was a fantastic selection of excursions to meet anyone's tastes, from easy to adventurous. Tendering in and out of ports was excellent, fast, and always went smoothly. Never a problem. Although we did bring our own 24-hour hand sanitizer, there was plenty of stations all over and outside the ship, so no excuses for germs! The ship was spotless and someone was always cleaning it, even the outside! Entertainment was just okay.....geared more toward the older crowd. I would have liked to have seen a comedy show, but the shows we did see were great. We missed quite a few, because by the time they started (9:30pm), we were so exhausted from the day, we were in our stateroom reading and falling asleep! One thing that impressed me is that the cruise line had special get-togethers for the singles and even a gay-lesbian get-together. We did do happy hour every evening around 5:30-6 before dinner and one evening 2 of the 3 bars (our favorites) were closed for a promotional group, which we were not happy about. I look forward to going on another Oceania cruise and now I'm spoiled! I don't want to go back to the regular cruise lines! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Honestly, our best cruise yet. We had a concierge level cabin and it was worth the splurge . The food was awesome in every restaurant and the main dining room. The ship was awesome as in being the right size and not too big. The service ... Read More
Honestly, our best cruise yet. We had a concierge level cabin and it was worth the splurge . The food was awesome in every restaurant and the main dining room. The ship was awesome as in being the right size and not too big. The service was awesome. The only thing that was a bit off was the fitness center. Not well appointed but, we just spent our time walking and swimming in the Tahitian waters instead. Loved the coffee bar. Loved the homemade ice cream. Loved the daily fresh fruit smoothies and juice bar. Loved the daily lobster tail off the fan tail at night in the warm breeze. Loved the spa and Canyon Ranch hot tubs on the front. Red Ginger was our favorite restaurant and we loved the experience. We would save up to do Oceania again in a heartbeat. It is one line we would try to repeat again as it was expensive but, worth every cent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Yes, Oceania has the best cuisine at sea, unless you are health conscientious. Overweight and obese passengers were in pig heaven on Marina. We personally found the food way too salty, too heavy with too much butter and too much sweet ... Read More
Yes, Oceania has the best cuisine at sea, unless you are health conscientious. Overweight and obese passengers were in pig heaven on Marina. We personally found the food way too salty, too heavy with too much butter and too much sweet stuff. For the first time on a cruise we had trouble finding something that appealed to us. We personally love fruits, nuts, vegetables, good bred, fresh fish; Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Fruits on the Marina were mostly limited to melons and a little pineapple. Bananas were green or otherwise inedible, as we were told the Marina tried to avoid catering locally and practically all provisions on board were deep frozen. Only rarely was a fresh local fish on the menu. Bread for breakfast consisted mainly of fatty, sweet pastry, I got nauseous just looking at it. Fresh omelettes were fried in butter, the burnt butter was sticking in black spots to the dish, ugh. Frying eggs in butter is unacceptable to us. Fresh oatmeal was a heavy creamy substance that didn't resemble oatmeal. We have never eaten as poor on a cruise as on this one, maybe we had been too spoiled on Silversea or our Regent cruises, but these other cruise line don't boast the best cuisine at sea. But we must admit, the great majority of the passengers on the Marina craved the food, they loved it. They got their moneys worth of salt, sugar and fat and were thus able to accumulate more additional pounds. The clientele on the Marina was different from the other cruises we were used to and preferred. The ship was too big for our liking; we love the smaller ships, where we get to know and recognise most of the passengers and crew after just a few days. The ship itself was excellent, beautifully maintained and a pleasure to sail on. We did love our Penthouse Suite, this is the way to travel. We had no need of the butler, we just loved the spaciousness of the suite high up on deck 11. The staff was excellent and well managed. We did find the sommeliers were under too much pressure to sell the more expensive wines. Oceania is not very "inclusivy"; our suite had 3 free laundry bags offered for our cruise, 3 days for the return of the laundry was too long for us. We preferred the self service laundry which my wife could finish in one day. For the self service laundry Oceania charged 2 $ for washing and another 2 $ for drying, wow, that was another first for us. We did find the shore excursions too expensive and had made our own arrangements. Would we choose Oceania again? No. But we can recommend Oceania without reservations to people who love big chunk of meats, hamburgers, hot dogs, thick french fries and lots of sweets; on Oceania you can get your moneys worth. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019

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