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6 St. Maarten to Caribbean - Eastern Cruise Reviews

This was our third Wind Star cruise on their sailing vessels. My husband were hoping to get much needed rest and relaxation. We went on a back to back. I was surprised on our first week that there were a lot of children. It was the week of ... Read More
This was our third Wind Star cruise on their sailing vessels. My husband were hoping to get much needed rest and relaxation. We went on a back to back. I was surprised on our first week that there were a lot of children. It was the week of Christmas but I had never seen so many unsupervised children on such a small ship. The parents could have done these kids a favor and had them on one of the larger lines with water slides, video games and a large pool. Because the kids had nothing to do and were unsupervised they ran all over and planted themselves in the two whirl pool tubs on the back of the ship and in the very small pool. We had an at sea day for the first leg of the trip and it was beyond horrible as relaxation was no where to be found. The first week of the ship they did not open the back of the ship much. We went off the back one day and it was very rough. They have a blue floating mat and a trampoline that had jumping children on it. The second week was much better. There was not any at sea days, there were less children but the sailing was sold out as was the week before and the ship was crowded. I really regretted my choice for the holidays. I should have went on Oceania as I have done in past years. The chef had a decorated ginger bread house which Oceania does as well. But on Oceania they have lots of different Christmas cookies around the decorations on plates that are kept full of fresh cookies. Not the case on Wind Surf. For both weeks of this back to back on Windsurf dining was consistently frustrating. We arrived on board at a few minutes before three. Embarkation was great and simple. We then asked for the welcome on board buffet and it was closed down. Dinner would be at 7:00 but they have the yacht club that serves cold sandwiches and coffee. What a disappointed. We hadn't eaten because we had been traveling all day and the sandwich choices were fair. I like egg salad but it was served in a pita (Yuk) - the sandwiches are pre-made so there was no choice of bread. I got a tuna salad sandwich that was all bread and very little tuna salad. I would have been better off getting a subway at the airport. Dinner time mediocre at best. I really like fresh fruit and vegetables. The vegetable choices in the main dinning room were frozen broccolli, frozen carrots and peas. They always had a dark green salad with tomatoes that were never ripe and should not have been served. There was always plenty of meats but I am not a big meat eater. I did try the beef wellington but the crust was mush and the meat inside was under cooked. I like medium to medium rare and it was rare. One night I asked for a pasta with marinara sauce which is not on the main dining room menu but is on the room service menu and I was told no I could not get that. I did see other people ordering pasta on different nights but that evening the chef came out and told me it was not possible because it would put them off of their time line. In the evening I like to have a snack but after dinner there is no food service open on board. The Yacht club which has sandwiches and cookies closes at 6:00 pm. So I called room service and asked for a couple of oranges to eat before bed. I was told oranges are only available on the morning room service menu and was not available at that time of the night. Frustration!!! I spent a lot of money on this cruise and was very disappointed by this. Since we were on for two weeks we did have two beach bbq experiences and two evening deck experiences. The food at both of those experiences was very good and I have no complaints. It was disconcerting that at the first week of the beach bbq there were a lot of kids and very few people took advantage of the hand sanitizer. Also I saw people returning to the buffet line with dirty plates. This was also seen at the lunch buffet on board. The one thing I liked about Oceania is that they serve you on the buffet line so you don't have people who don't have sanitary hands touching the buffet. Being we were outside and kids would run up and grab a piece of fruit out of the fruit salad as did some adults I had concerns. I did not get sick and neither did my husband but I was concerned. The second week of the beach bbq someone must of said something because they did have workers serving the food rather than people taking what they wanted and they wore plastic gloves. The first week I suspect there were many cabins with three or more people because at that beach experience it was very difficult to get a chair. Many people put a towel on their chair with a book and then disappeared. At the beach experience they did bring out water toys and the sports team was very busy. My husband and I used to sail a lot in our 30's and he wanted to take one of the hobie cats but the line for that was too long. The second week there were less people and he talked to a woman who was handling the check out. He asked her a few questions and she was somewhat rude but I imagine she was hot and it had been a long day. She briskly told him that they did not teach people to sail. I guess since he asked her about the hobbie cats she assumed he could not sail which was not true. He just walked away and figured it was not going to be a pleasant experience. On the back of the ship there were two men one I believe was named BangBam and they were exceptionally nice and watched over the swimmers. I used to scuba dive when I was younger and I automatically hand signal when I enter the water. To my surprise he hand signaled back. The two men who worked the sports deck were terrific but the girl they had there was not friendly or helpful. The deck BBQ was good. The first night they did not follow the deck BBQ with line dancing but they did the second week. Entertainment for both weeks was lacking. They have a large screen TV by the games and books. Many of the men wanted to see the Rose Bowl game but all that was on the large TV were Wind Star advertisements. A couple of guys were trying to look at a tablet that had the game on it. I dont' think it would have cost much for them to have a movie or a game during the cruise on the large screen. The singers were fine nothing that I cared to sit and listen to for an extended period of time. They do have games but what we found when we went to play them is most are missing pieces. Scrabble was missing 11 tiles. We brought our own games from home and people were circling around us wanting to know about the games and where to get them. I don't mind that there isn't a lot on the ship in the evening because I enjoy relaxing but the movie library is very outdated and the games are old and missing pieces. This is not luxury and I was disappointed that the cruise was touted as a luxury experience. As I mentioned I have traveled on Windstar before when it was owned by Holland America and the management is very different. On the plus side our cabin steward Fauzie was the best we have ever had even better than what we had on Seabourn and Oceania. He did his best. The bed mattress was not good. We were sore every day. When I told Fauzie he put together some makeshift padding. It was no where near as good as beds we have had on Holland America, Oceania, Seabourn or Celebrity. The mattress was like one we had on Carnival. The actual sheets were very soft and of a high quality. I also told Fauzie how upset I was about not being able to get oranges and each night when I came back to the cabin he had a dish of oranges. He was very caring and kept the cabin spotless. Our shoes were lined up and although the carpet was worn he did his best to make the place look great. Waiter service around the ship was variable. We had an excellent server name Udd and then we had some other servers who were also kind but did not understand English very well so if I asked for ice tea with extra lemmon and extra ice I would get an ice tea with no lemon and an extra cup of ice. What I thought was really unforgivable was the higher ranking management on the ship. All the workers seemed to try very hard to please and I thought the were over worked. At dinner one night in the dining room on waitress Ollie was alone in a section with very large tables. That poor woman was running and doing the best she could. There was no one busing her section to pour water. My husband needed some water and she was so busy she could not get to it. There were officers in white uniforms who worked in the dining room who would not pick up a pitcher of water and help serve. The were walking around literally doing nothing while this poor waitress was struggling without assistance. Beside us not getting our drinks and being very thirsty through dinner I asked her for a piece of apple pie for dessert which was available on room service but not on the menu. Ollie said no. Later I grabbed the manager and asked him for the pie and he did get it for me. I did tell him that it appeared they were understaffed and he did admit that indeed this was a very full cruise. The second week the dining room was not as full as it was the week of Christmas. Reservations for the specialty restaurants did not go too well. When we arrived we made our reservations the first week. That whole week we did not receive our invitation so I called. I was told that they did not have them. I made another and when we went up we were not on the list. This happened to several people I spoke to on the cruise. The food in the speciality restarant was better than in the main dinning room but still there was not much in the way of fresh vegetables. They did have brocollini in Candles which was good. The breakfast and the lunch buffets daily were very good. I loved the salad bar each day at lunch. But lunch hours were short and if you left the ship in the morning there was a chance you would miss lunch which was from 12:30 - 2:00 most days. We tended to sleep in so we missed breakfast which ended at 9:00. I really loved it the one day on New Years Day when they did brunch. They had a very good quiche and I was so happy to be able to have fresh fruit and vegetables. I would say if there is a really good price on windstar then it is worth the trip. But don't pay luxury prices or even above average prices or you might be disappointed. We will sail on any major cruise lines and are not disappointed if the price point is ok. We go on Carnival because we love the comedy club and I know not to eat in the dining room and to expect lower quality food and a harder bed. So as long as I am paying an economy price I am ok with it. This was disappointing to me because I expected a higher level of quality than what I got for the money and I feel that I over paid. Even with it being Christmas I don't feel that the dining hours, food quality, the mattress quality and the crowds were what I expected for what is advertised as a luxury experience. We paid about $5400 with taxes and port charges for two people for 15 days and I feel that the trip was worth about $4,000 for two including port charges and taxes - if that. I could have went on Holland America or Celebrity and had a balcony with money left over and it would have been a better experience. At least if there were kids there would have been places to go. We had cabin 211 which is in a good location so if you do decide to take a cruise on Windsurf I would recommend this cabin. Everything in the cabin worked. The carpet was very spotted and looked like it should be cleaned. We did get the laundry service and it was awesome. If you go on Wind Surf I highly recommend paying for the laundry service. You put your dirty clothes in a bag and the next day they are washed and pressed. All of our clothes came out perfect better than at home. We came back to the ship one day and just missed lunch. We asked if we could have room service on the deck so we could eat outside. We were told no that room service was to be eaten in your room. So we ordered to the room and took our food out to a table ourselves. There dining hours are so short that you may have to eat off the room service menu. Room service was pretty fast about 30 minutes. The rooms aren't very comfortable for dining because they do not have a balcony. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I took the Christmas 2015 voyage on Star Clipper through the leeward West Indies islands (St Maarten to St. Maarten) as a single traveler. There was no single supplement, which was a bonus. I’ve been a long time Windstar cruiser for over ... Read More
I took the Christmas 2015 voyage on Star Clipper through the leeward West Indies islands (St Maarten to St. Maarten) as a single traveler. There was no single supplement, which was a bonus. I’ve been a long time Windstar cruiser for over 20 years and, in my experience, the only difference between the two is that Clipper will give you a more authentic sailing, if that’s what you’re looking for. As someone who has lots of sailing experience, I have no problems with rocking and rolling but if you have a queasy stomach and easily prone to seasickness, you should be prepared for it, especially while sleeping and using the head. I found the passenger demographics between the typical Windstar passenger types very similar to that of Clipper (couples in their 40s -70s). There were more teens on this cruise, mostly due to the fact that it was over Christmas. Here’s my key dislikes about Star Clipper: -There’s no exercise room and no exercise equipment. If you want to workout while aboard, you’re hosed. Plan to go on excursions that require you to get a workout. Oh yes,they do post a daily workout in the center of the ship but just try stretching and exercising while the ship is listing steadily from side to side! -You can’t get your meals –or anything—delivered to cabin. And, you can’t eat your meals at the ship’s bar. This is a problem if you happen to be single, or even a couple, and simply don’t want to mix with others on any given night. -The ship’s pursars were very snarky and not helpful. Also, you can’t buy anything practical in the ship’s store, i.e, sunglasses, last minute toiletries, etc. They also keep the fact that they offer movies on CDs a secret. -While the ship’s cruise director is very knowledgeable about maritime history, he doesn’t provide much useful info on the islands prior to embarking if you want to go it alone outside of the excursions. He typically mentions just one thing (“take a walk to the fort”) if you are on your own. Be sure to Google the island to make your own way. -If you scuba dive like me, you won’t be able to aboard Clipper. They stopped it, however, they still have tanks aboard the boat. -The ship’s water sports equipment is dated and worn out. Also, I found the sports staff incredibly unfriendly and nonchalant about safety issues. -The food is simply “ok” but not great or anywhere near inspired. You won’t find anything out of the ordinary here. -Clipper glorifies the days of sailing yore (they say you’re welcome to help the crew with hoisting lines, etc., but don’t believe it. Its only hype.) and really plays this theme up as part of their brand. Problem is those days are in fact over and most people can’t really relate to them anymore. I kept thinking that they have a far better opportunity to provide some education on the importance of preserving ocean life, something that better resonates with today’s customer. -The interiors, especially the dining room, looks like a Red Lobster restaurant only with linen. It's a dated look and should be updated without losing its sea faring branding. -The house staff, with the exception of the bartenders and head waiter, seem relatively unfriendly and not happy. Some bad attitudes. -Entertainment. I don’t go on cruises for the entertainment but keyboardist Charlie from Budapest will have you craving for Weird Al Yankovitch before the end of the cruise. They also put on a “Talent Contest,” which is really cheesy and should be retired. Its downright painful to watch the crew be forced to perform. What I liked: -No single supplements -Low alcohol prices. Cocktails were $6; wine was $3. -Ship exteriors—and cabin interiors-- were kept clean and well maintained. I didn’t notice a speck of rust on her decks. Clipper clearly takes pride in her fleet. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My wife and I had previously sailed on "Arabella" out of St. Thomas and I thought the Island Windjammer cruise would be a similar experience. My wife opted out of the cruise and I ended up as a "Solo" in one of the 2 ... Read More
My wife and I had previously sailed on "Arabella" out of St. Thomas and I thought the Island Windjammer cruise would be a similar experience. My wife opted out of the cruise and I ended up as a "Solo" in one of the 2 Solo Cabins (12). Flew from Detroit to St. Maarten and stayed over night at the Pasanggrahan Hotel. It was dated but clean and served its purpose. For some reason the bar and restaurant were closed and I ended up at "The Green House" which was just a five minute walk away. I recommend the Green House. The bar tender was friendly and the food was great. Boarded the Sagitta at the main port dock and the adventure began. There were 23 passengers, mostly from the US, I'm Canadian (Ontario) and there was a 4 member family from Calgary. We left at about 2:00 pm and sailed over to St. Barts. Now I have my first negative observation. Island Windjammers does not really explain the itinerary very well in their webpage. I thought we would be sailing (or motoring) some place every day. That's not the case. We stayed the first 2 nights anchored in St. Barts. I have been to St. Barts several times so I was disappointed that we were there that long. So on Tuesday we sailed over to a marine reserve (Anse de Colombier). Nice beach, very secluded no chairs but your could snorkel. Pulled anchor and sailed to Nevis (part of St. Kitts). Probably I should explain that Sagitta is not really a sailing ship. It is considered a motorized yacht with sails. The captain explained that even with the sail up he could not cut the engines. He needed the engines to steer. So if you are looking for a true sailing experience, Sagitta is not it. Anchored at Nevis harbour for the night and some went ashore for tours Wednesday. I've been to Nevis so I stayed on board. We left for Pinneys Beach Nevis (just a short sail away). Pinneys is a beautiful beach with a great beach bar called Sunshines. Great drinks and beautiful sand. Wednesday night we sailed to St. Kitts and anchored in the Harbour for dinner. On Thursday, several passengers went ashore and toured or shopped. At noon we sailed to South Friars Bay to the Ship Wrecked Bar for the afternoon. We had a bbq on the beach for dinner. A good time was had by all. Pulled anchor and did a night sail to Anguilla (the other side of St. Maartens). This was rocky night in my little bunk. Woke to Sandy Ground Anguilla in the morning. Anguilla is a beautiful place and I went ashore to Sandy Ground to find Elvis's Beach Bar. It was a national holiday so it was not going to open until night time. So I found "Dads" beach bar and it was great. All (but myself and one other passenger) went to Shoal Bay which is beach lovers dream. I have been there and I wanted to explore Sandy Ground. Had a great day. Went back to Sagitta for lunch and back to Dads for the afternoon. Now here is my second negative comment. I originally booked my flight back to Detroit (from St. Maarten) for 8:40 am, thinking that would be enough time to get to airport from the cruise dock. US Air changed the flight time to 8:05 am so I emailed Island Windjammers whether that would be enough time to catch the plane. I ended up changing my flight to a later one which cost me $200.00 US. So I was rather miffed when the captain said we would be sailing to St. Maarten on the last night and spent the Friday night at the dock in St. Maarten. If I had known this I could have easily been up and made the early flight saving myself some money. Island Windjammers really needs to include the itinerary information on the web site and booking information. Knowing you are docked in St. Maarten the last night does make a difference on travel plans. So... The food was good. Crew was great. Weather was warm and the sea is relaxing. By the Way: The solo cabins are SMALL. but there was a lounge outside the 2 solo's which came in really handy. Except for the travel glitches, I did enjoy the Sagitta. Would I do it again? Probably not. My wife really likes the Windstar Cruises for sailing, which are about the same cost and a great deal less "rustic".   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We just returned from our first Windstar cruise and have mixed feelings about our experience. We have cruised on many lines and travel extensively. We prefer smaller resorts and appreciate all that a smaller ship can offer. We chose ... Read More
We just returned from our first Windstar cruise and have mixed feelings about our experience. We have cruised on many lines and travel extensively. We prefer smaller resorts and appreciate all that a smaller ship can offer. We chose Windstar bc of the itinerary and wanted to give Windstar a try. The highs were the great ports and the marina off the back of the ship. Even though our weather was not great at the beginning of the cruise, it improved and we enjoyed wonderful days in Virgin Gorda, St. Barts and Tortola. The sailing was VERY rocky, but we were not affected by it. The room was good and very well appointed- especially the bathroom which has a very useful lay-out. Our cabin steward could not have been nicer and more helpful. Breakfast and Lunch in the Veranda were perfect- many choices, attentive service and no problem finding a place to sit. The lows outnumbered the highs. There was a big corporate organized group onboard- inferred that it was basically a wine and dine and thank you for media advertising. We had read on previous reviews that if a large group is onboard, it can greatly affect the cruise for others. This is very true. They took over Candles one night, and also hosted a special dinner around the aft pool one evening which precluded anyone else from enjoying that area for the evening. They would congregate at the bars in large, loud groups making it awkward for others to be there. The group was at least 60 people, and on a cruise of 300 people, this constitutes a large group. Smoking was another issue. We are not vigilantly against smoking, but it was overwhelming at times around the pool. Smoking areas were on one side of the ship- we just think that with such a small pool area, maybe move it somewhere else? The crew was friendly and we definitely encountered many who were to be commended ( we always turn in commendation forms as we know that they are important to the crew). But, it seemed as if they were not well trained or were new to Windsurf. Our dinners lasted at least 2.5 hours due to either a slow kitchen or slow wait staff. We would have liked for the Veranda to be open as a buffet in the evenings- dinners became a drawn out affair that we did not look forward to. Room Service was always an option, but we did not come on Windsurf to eat in our room. Th final straw was the fact that crew members (mainly casino and "cadets"- crew members in training) basically took over the Marina and the water trampoline in port and especially at the beach picnic on Prickly Pear. We have never encountered this on any cruise before- we realize that the crew works hard, but shouldn't those amenities be reserved for guests first? Comparing Windstar to comparable lines with comparable prices, Windstar falls short in the area of service. With the exception of our cabin steward, we did not feel like we received the service that we expected. We do not expect to be waited on hand and foot, but with such a strong crew to guest ratio, thought it would be a better experience. To be honest, with the exception of turning in favorable commendations for crew members, we do not post reviews such as this. You have to take all reviews at face value, and everyone has their own opinion. But, there were just too many things about our experience on Windsurf that were not favorable. They truly have the potential to be amazing, and their itineraries are great. We would try them again, but would go into it with lowered expectations. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This review covers a cruise on the m/s Tere Moana from December 7-14, 2013. This was a round trip from St. Maarten. Summary: The Tere Moana’s size creates too many compromises to be worth the micro-ship “experience”. The bottom line ... Read More
This review covers a cruise on the m/s Tere Moana from December 7-14, 2013. This was a round trip from St. Maarten. Summary: The Tere Moana’s size creates too many compromises to be worth the micro-ship “experience”. The bottom line is that despite predominantly sunny skies, there was sufficient swell in the eastern Caribbean to provide an uncomfortable ride and make a shambles of the itinerary. Despite the ships limitations, the crew did an outstanding job and provided a level of grace and personal service that I have never experienced anywhere else. Keep in mind, however, that there were only 52 passengers aboard with a capacity of 90. Paul Gauguin touts the fact that their smaller ships can go places that larger ships can’t. In the case of the Paul Gauguin it appears that they succeeded in providing a good balance of stability and features (according to fellow passengers) but they went way too far with the Tere Moana. Simply stated, the Tere Moana is too small to be able to handle the Caribbean Sea. If there is one thing you should take away from this review, be prepared for constant and sometimes fairly extreme motion. This includes when tied up at a pier. For experienced boaters, who would consider something like a sailing charter it might not be objectionable but I am going to bet that for most people it would be a struggle. Tere Moana’s size also means that your itinerary is at constant risk of change because of fairly minor changes in weather (swells, in this case). If you are flexible, fine but if you have your heart set on the destinations, you are more likely to be disappointed than in the case of a larger ship (to be sure, larger ships also miss ports due to weather). During our cruise, the captain sought out larger, more protected anchorages rather than the smaller ones for the sake of passenger comfort. For me, Jost Van Dyke and Les Saintes were the kinds of smaller destinations that I was hoping to experience and did not. Embarkation (and disembarkation): Both were amazingly simple and quick. There is no comparison with conventional cruise ships. Check-in was a bit confused and the outgoing cruise director (more on this character latter) basically told us we could hang around and wait for a ride or walk to the ship. “it’s over there, you can’t miss it”. Well “over there was in between 5 other ships tied up in the massive port of Phillipsburg and a 10 minute walk with carry-ons. Fortunately, I knew exactly what the ship looked like and we managed to find it. Once we got to the gangway we were descended upon (in a good way) and all was well. Back to the outgoing cruise director, while we were checking in my wife casually asked about the weather (it had been marginal in St. Maarten). His response was, “It’s going to be bad, very rough”. My wife then asked, “should I put on my seasick patch”. The response was, “yes, take everything you have!”. So, at this point I am starting to picture the cab ride back to the airport but my wife decided to soldier on. In truth, the weather was a bit rough in the beginning but that was absolutely no excuse for scaring the hell out of a passenger short of cancelling the trip. Cruise: From hour one, the Tere Moana was chased around the Caribbean by swells. Early on we were informed that we would stay in St. Maarten overnight and the following day rather than departing for Tortola. At this point, Jost Van Dyke was already a casualty. We did not actually set sail until Monday morning and proceeded to St. Kitts. The schedule was further revised sending us next to Guadeloupe then St. Barts and on to the BVI. Thus, another “small” port, Les Saintes was gone. That lasted until the next morning but the seas were too rough and we turned around and headed for St. Barts, skipping Guadeloupe. Keep in mind that this whole time there was barely a cloud in the sky. This was all about swells. So, you get the basic point. Unfortunately, we had to make the trip back to St. Maarten from the furthest point, Virgin Gorda, rather than St. Barts so we set sail at 6 PM and were underway during dinner which I could not finish because of the motion. That’s what happened. Was it a fluke? I have no way of knowing but I believe the conditions we faced would have been easily handled by any other cruise ship. Check what happened to other “smaller” ships that were in the area if you are curious (Seabourn, Windstar, etc.). On the positive side, especially with such a light load, the ship seemed almost deserted. You could have all the space you wanted whenever you wanted it. This particular group did not have many “sun” people and the upper decks were virtually deserted. As a tip for those that like being outdoors the loungers on the top deck, forward are wonderful. Food: Breakfast and lunch were served as buffets but there was always a chef present preparing eggs, omelets, waffles (breakfast) and items like tacos, freshly fried fish, etc. (lunch) to order. There was a lot of choice without a lot of distinction. The desert selections for lunch were very nicely done. The food experience was a step up from the large ship experience but not a large one. The atmosphere, however, was 50 times nicer without all the hustle and noise. There was a “barbeque” on the beach in Virgin Gorda which was fun (basically, what they would have done on Jost Van Dyke). Dinner was presented formally and they did a good job but appeared to be stretched. No one was in a hurry but I do wonder what it would be like at full capacity. There was another “barbeque” on the pool deck one night with a local steel band that literally stood in the pool. Everything was served “wedding style” from two gas grills but it was fun. Entertainment: Entertainment consisted of a single keyboard player who seemed to be everywhere and performances by other members of the crew that had musical talents. The maître d’hôtel was particularly talented. All in all, it was fun and exactly what I expected but a far cry from any other ship I have ever been on. Conclusions: I strongly suggest that you seek out reviews from others on this cruise especially because a good 80+% of the passengers had previously been on the Paul Gauguin. These folks had already experienced the excellent Paul Gauguin Line service on a much larger ship. We were glad to have experienced the Tere Moana but would most definitely never venture onto a ship that small again, at least not for a week. Again, I have to say the crew was just super. I don’t know if the weather just dealt them a bad hand or if the Tere Moana is just an unplayable lie (at least in the Carribean). Regardless, if you are looking for super food or entertainment you need to look elsewhere. Just a final observation for Paul Gauguin Cruises…you guys are doing some serious harm to your brand. Most of my fellow passengers just loved your product before the Moana and many are not so sure after.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
\As an aid to future TM travelers, I offer the below in the hopes you're expectations fall in line with Paul Gauguin's new offering of an intimate small ship experience. We were part of a family group of 14 on a proposal/wedding ... Read More
\As an aid to future TM travelers, I offer the below in the hopes you're expectations fall in line with Paul Gauguin's new offering of an intimate small ship experience. We were part of a family group of 14 on a proposal/wedding announcement gathering. We had a good time over the week spent on the Tere Moana and always make the best out of almost any situation thrown at us. The Tere Moana brochures promised activities, itinerary and services that were not provided. I spent many hours researching and planning only to be surprised when receiving final documents with changes. Cruise Critic forums had much better information. I was left to fend for myself as our departure date neared, eventually forcing me to make the decision not to book any activities on my own. I had to go with PG's high priced (albeit well executed) ShoreEx ... primarily because I had lost faith in the Tere Moana's ability to keep schedule on a planned itinerary. Embarkation/Check-in at Galisbay Port was a major inconvenience due to French security's inability to handle the back-up of early arriving passengers. Over an hour of more in the blazing hot sun, so bring your own sunscreen and water. The comment from the hotel director was, "Not my problem, that's port security." While it may be out of her control, ... it was a problem! After the long hot sweaty security SNAFU, we were treated to a pleasant and friendly greeting from the quay, up the gangway, to the reception desk. When advised of a cabin change, no explanation of why ... no advanced notice, I informed the check-in staff that this was unacceptable. The 16MAR13 sailing had ~75 passengers (holds 90). I don't understand if our sailing wasn't full, what the problem was. Satisfaction required escalation to the hotel director. In the mean time, we sat in the lounge in our hot sweaty clothes for another half hour+ when all we wanted was a shower and to join our group for a drink and relaxing get-together. My wife and I came to PG with high expectations (most of our group are PG repeaters and recommend the PG operation highly) ... imagine all of the above transpiring and what a frustrating "first impression" Tere Moana gave us ... ugh!!! Onto dining; in the main restaurant, L'Etoile, the presentation was EXCELLENT. The soups were OUTSTANDING, the lamb was EXCELLENT, and the rest of the meals(s) were VERY GOOD. However, the filet mignon was INEATIBLE, and my "every nightly" steak was tough and served cold. Waiter Arnold was delightful, attentive and strived to excel at dinner, breakfast and every time we came across him onboard. Not under his control, but I rate TM's overall dining service as only GOOD. I conversed with Maitre D' Utpal and we came up with the following explanation: In our group (table for ten), the men were destined to get plates that had been cooling down while the waiters had everyone's meals readied and then politely served the women first. Compounding this were long delays between courses. Tere Moana needs more waiters for the bigger table(s) and/or you need to get seated at a smaller table. With the proviso that meal evaluations are highly subject to individual opinion, I gave Tere Moana an EXCELLENT rating in the La Veranda, no complaints here for breakfast or lunch. I actually enjoyed these "hot" meals more than the drawn out "formal" dinners. Toward the end of the week, breakfast selections did become monotonous but this was understandable for the small ship TM is. Of note to those reading the PG brochures, there may be two dining venues advertised / pictured, however, TM really operated only the La Veranda for breakfast and lunch, and only the L'Etoile for dinner. We personally did not partake of room service, a result of grumblings from fellow passengers. On a positive note, the staff occasionally extended the lunch hour to accommodate late returning ShorEx participants. The Tere Moana's staterooms do get a "five star" rating from me; plenty of hangers, drawers and closet space. Excellent towel exchanges, very timely, in fact quick, room turn-arounds while we breakfasted. Air conditioning was a little cool, but preferable to sweating like our friends did down the hall. Here is where I have learned from past cruises to select a cabin away from the entry and foyers. A recommendation for the bathroom: The wall mounted hair dryer is very "old school". It gets excessively too hot to handle well before the wife's hair was any where near drying. We envied our friend who brought her own dryer. I was delighted with the selection of travel books in and the small and cozy layout of the library/computer room. Both the guest lecturer and the steel drum duo were EXCELLENT and refreshing. Our Zodiac boat handlers excelled at their job helping us passengers on and off the fantail and piers. I think PG now blatantly realizes that Zodiacs are not for the infirm or mobility challenged. All the previous postings regarding "tender" services should, by the time you read this, have been overcome by events ... real "tenders" are promised for future cruises. A good cruise is what you make of it. Taking into account the TM's small size limitations, evening entertainment consisted of a "one man" piano bar singer with a naturally limited music selection. Piano player Alex, however was the "glue" that held us passengers together. He jumped right in to keep the lounge lively. Alex made it happen. Regarding port information and ShoreEx, cruise concierge Manuel was the nicest guy with a very pleasant disposition, however his port information was woefully inadequate. We were especially disheartened regarding the advertised marina "water sports". What good are kayaks if they are unavailable for our use? Sadly, we Tere Moana passengers were relegated to "Big Eye Liberty" only ... watching the Wind Surf's passengers enjoying "swim call" off their fantail. In my opinion, PG headquarters failed Manuel. One of the pax on our Baths tour was said to be a PG representative. When we asked her, "Why didn't PG send an advance man down to reconnoiter the ports?" ... she said PG did. Who ever this guy was, he/she missed the mark! In summary, we paid top dollar for a "five star" experience and received a middle-of-the-road product. The phrase, "Over promised and under performed." best describes my feelings about PG. Any comparisons regarding Tere Mona's facility, services and activities to the MV Paul Gauguin are inappropriate at this time. Using the Paul Gauguin reputation to market the Tere Moana experience ... falls short. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013

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