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550 Tahiti (Papeete) to South Pacific Cruise Reviews

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
My husband & I had saved up for our 25th anniversary to go to Tahiti. It was SO worth the wait! No lines anywhere - and they treat you like royalty. The ship is the perfect size. The staterooms are so comfortable. We got a balcony ... Read More
My husband & I had saved up for our 25th anniversary to go to Tahiti. It was SO worth the wait! No lines anywhere - and they treat you like royalty. The ship is the perfect size. The staterooms are so comfortable. We got a balcony room near the front on Deck 7, and were not disappointed. I enjoyed the entertainment at night when I could stay awake that late(!). The dancers are very good. Mahana took us on a ship tour the first afternoon. She was adorable. We tried all 3 restaurants, but we found that the “Veranda” was a bit too fancy for our tastes. Actually, our favorite foods were at the private motu (Taha’a stop) and our ship excursion to a motu in Moorea. We enjoyed the continental breakfast items in the back of the ship every morning. All the croissants you could dream of! All of the ports were just amazing!! SO many shades of blue in the crystal clear water!! Abundant sea life to explore while snorkeling. We saw the huge manta rays, swam with black tip reef sharks, saw a baby whale breaching, spotted eagle rays in large groups, watched dolphins playing. I was amazed at all the different vibrant colors of the clams (oysters?!) in the water. Bright turquoise, royal blue, green, purple, tan, etc. And if you attend the talk onboard about how they cultivate the “black pearls” that Tahiti is known for, it’s very interesting. We enjoyed the pool on the ship and had it all to ourselves! It was crazy! We hardly ever saw anyone in the nice plush lounge chairs around the pool. Maybe the sun is just too intense there for most of the “older” clientele. So if you want to be pampered on your vacation and skip the crowds of the colossal cruise ships, take a Paul Gauguin Cruise. We would highly recommend it. 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
The purpose of my review is to give you some insight on cruising with Paul Gauguin cruises and to offer some tips to make your vacation more enjoyable. I talk about the good and the bad, so that you can be a better-informed consumer. ... Read More
The purpose of my review is to give you some insight on cruising with Paul Gauguin cruises and to offer some tips to make your vacation more enjoyable. I talk about the good and the bad, so that you can be a better-informed consumer. This is my second cruise with PG cruises. My wife and I like that the m/s Paul Gauguin (PG) ship visits exotic locations, the crew and staff provide great service, and the ship is a smaller ship, with only 332 passengers. Our previous one was 7 years ago and the itinerary was Society Islands & Tuamotus. This time, my wife and I wanted to revisit French Polynesia and see Fiji, and hopefully find vibrant corals that have not been bleached out (we found some!). We also had family members who wanted to experience the allure of the South Pacific. So, seven of us and a family friend went to the cruise from Tahiti to Fiji, which occurs every two years. Six of us did a pre-trip stay on our own at the Hilton in Moorea. Five of us did a post-trip stay at the Intercontinental Fiji, through PG. Overall, our cruise portion of the trip was very good to excellent. People in our group were impressed with all the beauty of the area and the turquoise blue water at the islands. The staff were friendly and helpful. We were routinely greeted in the hallways with “Ia Orana” (Hello). Our room was kept spotless (thanks to excellent room steward Rosenita). The food was very good, especially in the main dining room (L’Etoile). There was Afternoon Tea (with yummy pastries and snacks) in Le Grill. Bar staffer William took very good care of us for our drink orders. When we previously cruised with PG, all the shows were on the pool deck. Now there is a showroom called the Grand Salon on Deck 5. The PG “ambassadors”, Les Gauguines & Les Gauguins, performed Polynesian dance routines twice in the Grand Salon during the 13-night cruise. We had the musical talents of the Duo Marc & Abi and the Rhodes Brothers. We had the amazing magical shows by Gustavo Vierini. Gustavo also demonstrated his remarkable mentalist abilities in the Piano Bar several evenings. The Sound Wave Band provided live music and featured some excellent voices. Alex provided beautiful piano music before and after dinner in the Piano Bar. My wife and I had a Category C, balcony room, cabin #741. It was cozy without being claustrophobic. There was a sitting area with sofa and stool by the balcony door. There was also a round glass top table by the sofa. Our room attendant kept a basket of fruit for us on the table. In that area was a large cabinet with multiple shelves, a small TV, and a refrigerator. The shelves were not very deep, so storage of clothes was limited. Behind one of the cabinet doors was the room safe. It was very temperamental. Most of the time, even if I had the safe open only a short period of time, it would not lock when I closed it; I had to keep reprogramming it with the original code I used. The balcony had a small table and 2 high-back chairs. The refrigerator was stocked with waters, soft drinks, and some beers (as I recall). It would be restocked for free the next day. There were wine and other drinking glasses above the refrigerator area. There is a small desk towards the front of the room, by the bed, with a stool for sitting on. It is flanked by 2 closets. The leftmost closet has side-wall-to-side-wall hanging space and 3 large area shelves for clothes or other items. The rightmost closet has about half the hanging space of the other closet, 3 small shelves, and 1 large shelf. There is a small hanging bar attached to the back side of both closets. The desk contains the only practical outlets for plugging in your devices, and there are only 2 outlets: one the US style and the other the European style. The bed was comfortable with 2 pillows for each side. Controls for lights by the room were at each bedside. There was room underneath the bed to store several large suitcases. A key card needed to be kept in the slot by the door, to provide power in the room. Our room attendant provided one for us. The room attendant also provided 2 fresh towels for pool use every day. In the hallway were 2 hooks, and a small dresser with 4 drawers for storing clothes. [Tip to passengers: bring magnetic hooks to attach to the walls of the cabin for hanging hats, clothes, etc. on.] The bathroom has 1 sink, a central area to put toiletries on, and two medicine cabinets with shelves for more toiletries. One problem in the bathroom is the placement of the toilet paper; it is hard to reach, because it’s on your extreme left side, and mostly behind you. If you’re right-handed, you have to reach across and behind you. My wife found a workaround, especially at night. Take out one of the loose rolls of toilet paper from underneath the sink and place it on top of the counter—easy access then. The bathroom has a combination shower and tub, with a handheld shower head. There are pump bottles for shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. Bar soap is provided by the room attendant. I think there was more shopping than on my previous cruise. There were high end pearls that could be purchased in La Boutique (the gift shop). I don’t think the t-shirt selection was as good as it used to be. Apparently PG stopped selling several years ago the PG Cruise t-shirts with a map of the islands being visited. There was a table set up for working on a puzzle on Deck 6. Three to four puzzles were completed during the cruise. There was a library area with lots of books. There was a compact Fitness Center with work-out machines, mats, free weights, 3 treadmills, and 2 elliptical machines. You could watch TV from some of the treadmills and ellipticals. My wife and I both had massages at the Spa. I had the Polynesian massage which seemed to involve using thumbs to get at some of my tight muscles. Even without a spa appointment, you could reserve the excellent Hammam (steam area) for a 30-minute period at the Spa desk. The Hammam had a steam room, and a hot and cold shower room with towels and bathrobes. There were enrichment lectures presented during the cruise—on Captain Cook and his voyages, and on Polynesian culture. I found the one on Polynesian tattoos fascinating. I was surprised that one of these lectures was scheduled by PG on an At Sea day during the time of a crew safety drill; the lecture was repeatedly interrupted by Public Address (PA) announcements and the ship alarm alert system. There are many other activities going on during the day and evening, as shown in the daily program: shuffleboard, morning stretch, Polynesian dance class, social bridge, trivia, karaoke, disco, and many others. There was a salt-water pool on Deck 9, with lots of lounge chairs around the pool. My wife and I did water aerobics in the pool to work off some of the delicious food we were eating. There was no hot tub. Something unique about the ship is that there is a Marina on Deck 4 (aft), and the back of the boat can swing down to water level. This allows boats to pick up scuba divers for some trips. You can also kayak and paddle board from that area—when it is allowed. On my cruise, you could only do it at the stops in French Polynesia at Moorea and Taha’a (but not Bora Bora for some reason). You could also kayak—which we did—at PG’s private island, Motu Mahana, off the coast of Taha’a. My wife and I didn’t do any shore excursions at Taha’a, so that we could spend more time on the Motu. We enjoyed the floating bar at the Motu. There were plenty of lounge chairs and shade on the Motu. One highlight was the Barbeque Lunch. Another was being served drinks in your personal coconut. There was an area for snorkeling. We liked feeding the fish near the shore. [Tip to passengers: don’t feed bread to fish; it’s not good for them; instead bring some fish food from home.] You could buy souvenirs from local vendors who came to the Motu. In general, the food was very good on the cruise. And you could get free wine, beer, and alcoholic drinks with lunch, Afternoon Tea, and dinner—and from any bar at other times. There were premium wines and top-shelf alcohol that you could purchase. For example, you could get a Margarita with Don Julio tequila, but you would have to pay $5 US to get Patron tequila. At the dinners, there would be 2 featured wines, one red, one white, that would be served. You could ask for something different (e.g., a Chardonnay instead of a Sauvignon Blanc). The wine steward/bar staffer would take care of drink orders during meals. Initially we planned to eat multiple meals at the specialty restaurants, Le Grill and La Veranda. Instead, we ate at each of the Specialty Restaurants twice and changed back to the default restaurant, L’Etoile, because the food was just as good, we liked the atmosphere there, and the servers Angelo, Dave, and wine steward Glenn knew us by name and learned what we liked. PG was willing to sit our group at the same table of eight each night we dined there. (We did give the Dining Room manager a heads-up when we planned to eat there.) Be aware that the menus for the specialty restaurants change about halfway through the cruise. It’s the same menu for the first half of the cruise, and the same menu for the second half of the cruise. We selected our dining days so we could have the different menus at the specialty restaurants. We decided that we liked breakfast and lunch at La Veranda better than at Le Grill. You had a view out the back of the ship, you could eat outside, and the buffet had lots of tempting choices. My only complaint with L’Etoile was that most of the time when I ordered meat cooked “medium”, it came out undercooked (not even medium rare); I would have to send it back to be cooked some more. I was disappointed one night when we ate at the French specialty restaurant, La Veranda, and saw that a regional Bordeaux wine was served rather than an AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) quality wine. One of my group noticed one time at lunch that expired (for 6 months) olive oil was being served at Le Grill; that was brought to the attention of management, and the problem was fixed. We generally liked the PG shore excursions that we did. We tried to do as much snorkeling as we could. I learned from the Shore Excursions Director (formally the Travel Concierge Manager) Sorin that PG vets the excursion operators. For example, PG interviews companies for suitability for whale watching. Sorin and sometimes the Ship Safety Officer check boats for safety (e.g., enough life jackets), attitude towards sea animals and the environment, and willingness to work with a cruise ship. Sometimes there are lapses. I heard from a family member that the boat for the snorkeling trip at Beqa Lagoon almost left 2 passengers in the water. There were large swells, and the 2 other passengers were not easily seen. The missing passengers was brought to the attention of the boat captain before he was about to leave, who then located them. On the other hand, on one of my snorkel trips, the boat captain called out passenger names after each snorkel stop, before leaving, to make sure all passengers were present and accounted for; that was an excellent practice by that boat captain. If you like diving with sharks, there were several such dives during the cruise. At the dive at Beqa Lagoon, there were lots of sharks, including bull sharks. Dive staff from the ship accompanied the divers and watched out for sharks from the front and back; they had long metal poles with hooks to deter sharks that got too close to the divers. Because PG only travels to Fiji every 2 years, some information was outdated. For example, there were no changing rooms at Beqa beach for those who wanted to attend the Fire Walking show and go swimming later. The Port Talk indicated that there would be such facilities. Maps for each of the ports were available at the Shore Excursions Desk (formally the Travel Concierge Desk). The quality of the maps varied. There was more information on the maps for French Polynesia ports. Shore Excursions arranged for currency exchange when we visited Tonga and Suva, Fiji. Passengers were told at the Port Talk that the exchange for Tonga would be on the ship starting at 8 am and would last until 2 pm. That would allow those going ashore on the first shore excursion, with the tender leaving the ship at 8:30 am, to exchange some money before leaving on their excursion. At the last minute, the currency exchange was moved to the pier at Vava’u, Tonga. That practically prevented those on the first shore excursion from getting Tongan money, because tours generally left as soon as all the passengers got off the first tender. And then, the bank representative left in the morning, and did not stay around until 2 pm to buy unused currency back. Passengers had to walk to the Bank of South Pacific to re-convert money. Fortunately, the currency exchange worked better at Suva, Fiji, when the ship was able to actually dock (so, no tenders needed), and the exchange was at the dock as you exited the ship. I generally do not purchase Internet usage on a ship. I find the prices expensive and not cost-effective. Service can also be slow. I try to find free or cheap Wi-Fi at the ports. At Bora Bora, I found free, adequately fast, Wi-Fi at the Bora Bora Visitors Center by the pier; the network name and password are posted. At Aitutaki, Cook Islands, I found Wi-Fi I could purchase at the Bluesky Post (BlueZone), a short walk from the pier; for $5 US, I could download 200 MB worth of data. In Vava’u, Tonga, I purchased Wi-Fi at the Tropicana Café (3 Tongan dollars, about $1.30 US). At Suva, Fiji, I did the Uprising Beach Resort shore excursion; I got free Wi-Fi at the resort. We used PG Cruises for some parts of our vacation and not others. We did not use the PG hotels for our pre-stay. We did an air deviation, because we did not like the itinerary that PG offered—arriving late at night to board the ship: we like to arrive a day in advance in case there are flight delays and to start adjusting to the time change. (And then we decided to do a pre-stay on our own, which also would have required paying for the air deviation.) We did use a PG hotel for our post-trip stay. The only PG transfers we had were in Fiji—from the ship to the hotel and from the hotel to the airport for our flight back home. Be aware that the flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti is about 8 hours long, and the flight from Fiji back to Los Angeles is about 10 hours long. We did our own pre-stay, because we did not like what PG was offering. We wanted to stay close to Tahiti, and not take any inter-island flights which would reduce how much luggage we could carry for our 3-week vacation. The Intercontinental (IC) Moorea was being renovated, and we wanted to avoid the noise and construction. It was a good decision. Employees at the hotel ended up going on strike, and PG had to move guests booked at the IC Moorea to the IC on Tahiti, which was OK but not as exotic. My wife’s brother has also stayed multiple times at the Hilton Moorea, and highly recommended it. It was easy to get to (take taxi to ferry terminal, take Terevau ferry to Moorea, take taxi to Hilton). It was a wonderful pre-stay. Our pre-cruise (while-at-home) experience with PG was not good. Shore excursions were not available to book until 60 days before departure. For my previous cruise, I think that shore excursions could be booked sooner. There should be some advantages to booking a cruise early, like being able to sign up for some—the more popular—shore excursions 6 months or so before the cruise. Anyway, the more popular shore excursions were booked within hours of becoming available in July: whale watching/dolphin expeditions in Moorea, snorkeling in Savusavu, and snorkeling at Beqa Lagoon. When my wife and I tried to sign up online, we discovered we were locked out of signing up for any shore excursions. We contacted our travel agent to get the problem fixed. By the time that happened, we missed out on signing up for those popular tours. We tried to get on waitlists. Our travel agent said we were. But when we called PG, we were told we were not signed up for wait lists—which we then requested. That was the first of several situations where PG told our travel agent one thing, and PG told us something different when we called up. That is a surprising situation for a company with PG’s reputation. [Hint to passengers: sign up for shore excursions as soon as possible; if you have any problems, call PG directly and have them sign you up while you’re on the telephone with them.] None of the waitlists ever cleared. I did check on availability, almost daily, in the three weeks before leaving to go on the trip. On two occasions, I found a single slot open for one of the previously-fully-booked snorkel trips. I signed up immediately, and got a morning slot for my wife, and a few days later, an afternoon snorkeling slot for me. Once I got on the ship, the Shore Excursions Desk opened up another snorkel time, and I was able to get my wife and I signed up for the same time. (But then the Shore Excursions Desk did not notify each passenger who had signed up previously that the times had changed. One family member showed up at the time printed on his original shore excursion ticket, and missed the snorkel tour. There were good intentions, but flawed follow-up.) For the whale watching trip, I was able to book an alternative private tour based upon a suggestion made by one of the passengers on Cruise Critic’s roll call for the cruise. I signed up for a tour by the Moorea Activities Center (MAC). What I learned on the ship was disappointing. I talked to Sorin about all the problems I had signing up for shore excursions. He told me that he was never informed by the PG Main Office about any of the wait lists. He only learned about the booked sign-ups a few days before the cruise. He did get complaints from passengers about the full snorkel tours for Savusavu, and his team was able to arrange for a third snorkel tour to accommodate the requests. [Hint to PG: notify the team on the ship in advance about the demand for wait lists for shore excursions.] PG did not provide sufficient information to do planning for your own tours. When I scheduled my private whale watching tour, I relied on the information PG provided about the itinerary, namely an 8:00 am arrival in Moorea. I selected a morning tour, meeting a representative from MAC on the pier about 8:20 am. Unfortunately, PG did not publish more useful information: that there would be tenders from the ship to the pier, and the first tender would not leave the ship until about 8:30 pm. [Hint to PG: let passengers know at the time of booking when they will first arrive physically at a port to do something, not when the ship arrives.] Then, another situation came up. PG prioritizes who can get on the first tender leaving the ship: namely, those who have booked a PG shore excursion, not passengers like me who have booked a private excursion. Fortunately, my party was able to get on the first tender, and the MAC representative did wait for us, because we were in the first tender to arrive at the pier from the ship (two other guests did not show up, and missed their tour). Remark: PG personnel are only checking that you have a PG shore excursion ticket to board the first tender; they are not reading it to check that it is for that day and time. Tickets are collected on the pier for each PG shore excursion. Sorin later told me that passengers should come tell the Shore Excursion Desk that they have booked private tours and need to get to the dock by such and such a time. That way, the Shore Excursion Desk can decide if more than one tender is needed at a certain time. Communication between passengers and the Shore Excursion Desk is important. [Tip to passengers: if you’re on a private tour, let the Shore Excursions Desk (Travel Concierge Desk) know.] There was an issue with my PG transfer in Fiji, and I don’t know where the fault lies. We were transferred via PG to our hotel; we actually did a very enjoyable shore excursion on the disembarkation day and ended up at our post-stay hotel. When we checked in to the IC Fiji, there was absolutely no information about when we would leave the hotel to catch our ride to the airport several days later—this should have been an included PG transfer. One of us recalled that the excursion we took before we arrived at the IC Fiji was through Rosie’s Tours. There was a Rosie’s Tour desk by the main restaurant at the IC Fiji. Someone checked with them, and they had the transfer information. Nothing was ever delivered to our rooms. Originally they told us that we would leave the IC Fiji at 6:30 pm to go to the airport. The Nadi airport was a minimum of a 1-hour drive away. And Fiji Airways asked for a 3-hour check-in for international flights (ours was scheduled to depart at 9:40 pm). There was no way to arrive on time with the scheduled departure time from the hotel. I had to go to the tour desk and complain to get an earlier departure time of 5:30 pm. (There was a Captain Cook tour group staying at the hotel with some guests who had the same flight as us; Rosie’s refused to move their departure time up from 6:30 pm.) Be aware that Ponant recently purchased the m/s Paul Gauguin ship, and perhaps even the PG cruise line. The purchase supposedly happened at the beginning of the cruise; two of the owners came onboard the ship at Bora Bora, and stayed on for the rest of the cruise. There could be some future changes. Hopefully management will not mess with the successful elements of a PG cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was my second Wind Star cruise and like most always wanted to experience Tahiti since I was a boy and Mutiny on the Bounty. Luckily I have a friend who lives in San Diego (Carolyn) and she also wanted to go so no worry about the ... Read More
This was my second Wind Star cruise and like most always wanted to experience Tahiti since I was a boy and Mutiny on the Bounty. Luckily I have a friend who lives in San Diego (Carolyn) and she also wanted to go so no worry about the single supplement and as we fly from LAX this was perfect. We did the air, hotel, cruise from Wind Star and was very pleased with all aspects of the package except dealing with any information for the air portion was difficult at best. I did better with the 8 hour flight than I thought as they fed us twice and we had good selection of movies on the seat back. Landed and customs was easy and bus was waiting to take us to the Intercontinental Hotel and this was 6 am and I was worried that our room would not be ready but our keys were ready and they delivered our luggage promptly. Room was nicer than I expected and we had a view of the water from our balcony and Moorea across the way. Had the buffet breakfast which was included as well as next mornings and were amazed at the beautiful water and reef so close and waves breaking over it. Rested that day and early afternoon next day bus took us to the ship. Easy check in as there were 142 passengers and no problem getting to our room 231 which was upgraded from 1st floor as I had sailed with Wind Star before. Room was forward but was convenient to areas we always ended up. Everything about crew that other reviewers have posted is true and especially Achmed who always took care of us at breakfast and lunch and at dinner on the Motu. Edison and John were two bartenders who always offered a cold Hinano when they saw me on deck or on the Island, the captain was most friendly and gave report each morning which was very informative and we enjoyed talking with him at the past guest party. I am experienced with the Caribbean so was not able to find much info about our ports as Tahiti is different and ports do not really have that many tourists so the beaches are on the Motu's and luckily we spent the day on two. We took a tour around Bora Bora and made usual stop at Bloody Mary's for a cold beer and flush handle in Men's room is "different". Finally we had to leave ship and I wondered what time we would be able to get in our day room at hotel. Once again room was ready and what a relief to not have to sit and wait for later in the day. Flight back was fine and our trip was over. If I was to go again I would schedule more excursions from the ship to see more of the islands we were at and more snorkel chances. Pearl shops everywhere and Carolyn bought a necklace which is a good item to bring back from Tahiti. For the guys wondering the beer in Tahiti (Hinano) is very good. Was a trip of a lifetime and was higher cost than any other trip I have taken but was worth it to experience this beautiful part of the world. The Tahitian people are very friendly and what a great experience, and thanks to Carolyn for coming along as otherwise I would never have the chance to experienced this beautiful part of the world, Wind Spirit was the perfect to experience Tahiti and fully recommend it to those who are debating this trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
I have wanted to go to Tahiti and the surrounding islands since I read "Mutiny on the Bounty" and saw the movie over 50 years ago. This has been number 1 on my bucket list and after seeing advertisements for Windstar over the ... Read More
I have wanted to go to Tahiti and the surrounding islands since I read "Mutiny on the Bounty" and saw the movie over 50 years ago. This has been number 1 on my bucket list and after seeing advertisements for Windstar over the years it just seemed the perfect way to see these spectacular islands and it REALLY was. I won't do a lengthy review as more than enough people on this site have already done so and I concur with all the superlatives. Great food, great destinations, and an EXCELLENT crew that are so very helpful and generally just really very nice. Customer service to the max! A special shout out to Nicola and Kristy that handle most of the day to day customer service items and excursions. And another shout out to Shane for taking people to the Motos for the wonderful island lunches and dinners as well as other excursions. Also the food service/wait staff are incredible and we enjoyed every meal we had on board. The only concern (and it is minor) is that if someone has mobility issues with walking, the stairs may present a problem. Unlike the big ships Wind Spirit does not have an elevator so that may be an issue for some people. I would advise someone to stay no lower than deck 2 if you have an problems with stairs. A fantastic cruise that lived up to every one of our expectations and then some. Highly recommend!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
No longer a 5 star ship but now a 4 star ship. The cabin was very spacious. l'occitane was not provided in the room. They use a big bottle of local shampoo and conditioner. I was expecting this but they no longer have it. The ... Read More
No longer a 5 star ship but now a 4 star ship. The cabin was very spacious. l'occitane was not provided in the room. They use a big bottle of local shampoo and conditioner. I was expecting this but they no longer have it. The slippers provided was even cheap. The food was excellent. The service was very good. The ship is a bit dated. The was only 1 restroom around the major dining areas. Always a long line up when it's dinner time. The salt water pool was excellent. The bar service was good. All the staff was very tentative. All the employees know your name after meeting you for 1st day. They do not have any cognac except for the local brand which did not taste good at all. All other cognac was an extra premium. I expected more due to the amount we have paid for the cruise. I was expecting 5 star service but really only received 4 stars due to the room amenities. Lack of local fruits and dishes served. There was not much shrimp. Only 2 days did I see shrimp on the menu. 1 night of lobster. We did meet some amazing people on this cruise. Everyone was so friendly and just wanted to have a good time. The private island was wonderful to be on. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We had been on a cruise with 600 passengers and decided it wasn’t for us. Wind Spirit has only 130 passengers and 100 crew and our experience was so different - we loved it. The crew was charming, helpful, knowledgeable and attentive and ... Read More
We had been on a cruise with 600 passengers and decided it wasn’t for us. Wind Spirit has only 130 passengers and 100 crew and our experience was so different - we loved it. The crew was charming, helpful, knowledgeable and attentive and our cabin was very comfortable and kept spotless. We enjoyed the most delicious food with lots of fresh tropical fruit, an amazing variety of salads and superbly cooked meats with a large selection of desserts. For dinner there were two fine dining restaurants and a wide ranging and interesting menu. The shore excursions were well run - since this cruise was round Tahiti there was snorkelling, diving, picnics on beautiful little “motus” or tiny islands, tours with local historians around the islands and visits to pearl farms and vanilla plantations. But what made it for us was the charm of the Captain and his crew - they were all friendly, approachable and made everyone feel very much at home. We recommend this cruise so very warmly. There is nothing we didn’t love about it.... Read Less
Sail Date August 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
Background:My husband and I traveled from the East Coast to Papeete via Delta and Air France. First visit to French Polynesia and first time on Paul Gauguin (PG). Have cruised many times on other cruise lines. Hotel Information: We ... Read More
Background:My husband and I traveled from the East Coast to Papeete via Delta and Air France. First visit to French Polynesia and first time on Paul Gauguin (PG). Have cruised many times on other cruise lines. Hotel Information: We arrived in Papeete early a.m., and had a private transfer from the airport to the pier to take the ferry to Moorea for our independently booked three night stay at the Intercontinental (IC) Hotel Moorea in overwater bungalow. Easy and quick transfer to Moorea and IC Hotel. Very pleasant stay--all meals were very good and beautiful, peaceful location. Ship Information: Efficient embarkation--there is no cruise "terminal"...passengers form a line to have passport checked and board ship. After passport check, the boarding process moves quickly--it may have taken 15 minutes from start to finish to be escorted to our cabin. The cabin was clean but showing signs of age, rust around window, large stains on carpet/dust ruffle and broken tub hardware. There was plenty of storage and closet space. The air conditioner worked very well. Leaving Bora Bora, the ship was "bouncy", we did not have bad weather or rough seas, however, there was a lot of ship movement. Mechanical/Technical Issues: One evening the ship experienced significant vibration especially in the back of the ship in the main dining room. The Captain announced the next morning we would be delayed arriving at Rangiroa due to a "technical problem". On another day, there was a water problem causing flooding on deck five in the main dining room and loss of hot water--the hot water was restored and the dining room opened after a slight delay. The food in the main dining room, L'Etoile, was very good and the wait staff, excellent. We dined in the specialty restaurants, however, our dining experience was much better in L'Etoile. Breakfast was the same buffet offering every day, however, there is a limited menu that does not change during the cruise that passengers may order from. Entertainment/Activities/Guest Speakers: The entertainment was satisfactory..but not especially good. The most interesting speaker on our cruise was the former Captain of the Queen Mary 2. Service: This is where the PG excels and earns a 5 star rating--the staff are wonderful! Ports and Shore Excursions: The Society Islands and Tuamotus are beautiful and Taha'a was especially pretty. We booked several shore excursions with PG, however, our favorite "excursion" was was our independent hike up Magic Mountain in Moorea that they crew told us about. We did not use the ship wifi--we used Tahiti wi-fi, which worked well in port except for Rangiroa and Fakarava. Disembarkation: Disembarked around 10 a.m. and traveled to IC-Papeete. Pretty property, however, check in took a long, long time. I'm thankful we had the opportunity to visit this beautiful part of the world, however, once was enough. I would not go again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was my 6th cruise on everything from a converted fishing trawler to a mega ship. We chose this cruise because we wished to visit a variety of South Pacific islands (Cook and Society). I'd give the cruise a B+ and our overall ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise on everything from a converted fishing trawler to a mega ship. We chose this cruise because we wished to visit a variety of South Pacific islands (Cook and Society). I'd give the cruise a B+ and our overall vacation an A. The pros include: 1) ports, 2) ease of access, 3) size of ship/number of passengers, 4) quality of food, 5) cabins, 6) excursions. The cons include: 1) mediocre service especially in restaurants, 2) entertainment, 3) tender schedule, 4) poor communication. Our window cabin felt relatively spacious (438) and was very quiet. Full bathroom and lots of storage. I wished we could have controlled how many lights were on at a given time. Beds were narrow but very comfortable. We did "separate" beds, which meant there was a sliver of space between the two. There was a small loveseat, which in this room is an extra bed. Ports we visited were really enjoyable though we heard that the last two ships had not been able to tender at Aitutaki because the water was too rough. That would have been a disappointment. Also, we were told that you don't want to book these cruises during cyclone season Dec-Feb. Except for Tahiti we tendered everyone. Mostly very short tender rides (starting at 8:30) but the schedule is once every 30 minutes in each direction not matter how close we were, and sometimes that was 2-3 minutes away. If you just miss a tender or want to be able to run back to the ship you end up with a lot of time killed. Our ship was about 2/3 of the 330 capacity. It felt busy enough up on deck. Chairs would be taken so I don't know where another 100+ would fit. And because of the relatively smallness of the ship and the multiple uses outside areas are put to, the chairs around the pool deck would start "disappearing" well before sunset as the area was readied for the next event. I found that annoying. Maybe I'd like to lounge at 4:30 or 5:00 and not have the place packed up around me. Food was good overall. We thought many of the lunch offerings were excellent. Breakfast was the weakest offering. Dinners had good choices and different menus across the three dining rooms. But acquiring the necessary reservations in two of the restaurants was a challenge between their hours and some other mystical force. Most nights if we inquired about the availability of last-minute reservations we were told "all booked up." Meanwhile, we'd peer into the windows of the restaurant throughout the evening to see myriad empty tables. And mind you, the ship was only 2/3 full. My husband was convinced the Maitre D liked it that way. Restaurant service was a whole other story. It sucked to put it bluntly. Just about no one learned our name or preferences over 11 days. During breakfast and lunch buffets good luck getting someone to offer you anything from coffee to water to taking an actual order. One morning I nearly got into a fight with a server who cleared my still-full coffee mug from the table and refused to give it back. One night, after 20 minutes had passed and no one had offered me wine, I had to resort to flailing my arms. And the alcohol may be "free" but I did not have one decent glass of wine (and there are many other choices than the two bottles of the night they highlight, which I didn't learn until almost the end of the cruise). If you order one of something, expect that two will arrive. And even if you don't order something, it may appear because you asked about it. And during dinner service the waitstaff would deliver your food and never, ever check back with you to see if it were to your liking or if you needed something else. The entertainment was passable. The piano player couldn't carry a tune and played a non-dynamic range. The magician was decent. The onboard Gauguines are cute to watch for a show or two but after that they got a bit monotonous. The best entertainment was the last night when an award-winning troupe came aboard. There were assorted activities such as craft projects and cultural talks to attend but most of these were scheduled just as excursions started. A number of passengers expressed frustration about there not being more offerings later in the afternoon as people returned to the ship. There are a wide range of high quality excursions to choose from and in many cases the vendors are the same as you would book independently. Pricing was decent. We booked some PG excursions, some on our own, and rented cars on some islands (taxis are expensive and often few and far between). We received contradictory information about excursion length (which according to cruise staff includes tendering time). A hike we booked on Moorea was listed as 4 hours one place, 5 another, and in the end was more like 6 (which caused us to nearly miss lunch - that's a whole 'nother story and yet another example of unaccommodating dining room staff). They are accommodating when it comes to rescheduling and cancelling excursions. There is a decently-equipped gym. Unfortunately, you couldn't walk the upper deck before 8:30 a or in the evening. We had to be creative in going for onboard walks. There is a steam room you can access by reservation in the spa. I managed laps in the postage-stamp sized swimming pool. The advertised onboard marina was a disappointment. Only once, in Huahine, were we able to use paddle board and kayaks. That was it from the ship. Embarkation and disembarkation are really straightforward. We arranged our own transfers and hotel, which I think made for a more pleasant experience on the last day. You can use your room until 9:30. We left the ship at 10 for a full day at the Intercontinental. Passengers being transferred by PG had to mark time on the ship until 3 when they were transferred. A lot of what I'm sharing wasn't readily communicated. One example of poor communication was that one evening we were told everyone would have to present themselves for customs in the Grande Salon when we arrived back into French Polynesia the next morning before they could get off the ship. What they failed to mention was that the entire ship would get a 7:45 a wake-up announcement and that your cabin phone would start ringing at 8 a if you hadn't shown up. I don't know why they made it sound like you could do this at your leisure rather than first thing in the morning. I don't appreciate being awakened while on vacation. I'm happy to answer questions offline: cambiare2011 at gmail. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have been to Tahiti in the past, but never taken a cruise. We decided to give it a try so we could experience several islands and excursions in a short amount of time, without having to worry about accommodations or dining. There were 8 ... Read More
We have been to Tahiti in the past, but never taken a cruise. We decided to give it a try so we could experience several islands and excursions in a short amount of time, without having to worry about accommodations or dining. There were 8 of us in our group ranging from 8 to 82 years old. Overall, the ports of call, excursions, crew service, food and cabin were superb. We loved the fact that it was a small cruise (300+ passengers) because everything was more personal. The Good - The food was top notch. Good breakfast and lunch selection and very good dinner selections. The waiters were very attentive. - The cabin was comfortable and nice, but the extras (food, cleanliness, special requests, etc) made it special. - The excursions were entertaining and varied; scuba departing from the on-ship marina was a very nice touch. Room for Improvement - It was somewhat of a hassle having to stay in a hotel a day before departure and during the day of disembarkation. In addition, it wasn't clear what kind of food was included at the hotel; the food was just OK and expensive. - The pool is definitely small and it more for show than actual usage. - The online excursion reservation system was fine, but make sure you do it before the cutoff date. - The entertainment was adequate, but having the same band for "everything" during the cruise got a little tiring. We enjoyed immensely our cruise and next time we will probably do the tuamotus... One last piece of advice, even though the gratuities are included, do leave gratuities to the 4 or 5 people that were outstanding during the cruise; they do appreciate it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The price was considerable compared to the value. The food was always cold with only one choice smothered in French creamy Sauces. Plaster was the only offering six days in a row. Eggs were not available every second day. The Scranbled ... Read More
The price was considerable compared to the value. The food was always cold with only one choice smothered in French creamy Sauces. Plaster was the only offering six days in a row. Eggs were not available every second day. The Scranbled eggs was like sloppy porridge.. The Marquaseas offered no Swimming or Snorkeling opportunities. The Islands were dry and Barron and uninteresting. The staff were very patronising to the point of rudeness when asked for something different. Asked for Playing Cards and received a pack with multiple of one cards and deficient others. We sat in an open area on the Veranda for dinner one night and were asked to move because the French wanted our spot out of the wind. We refused to move and the next night the staff refused to serve us at dinner. When we complained the Supervisor sided with the stars. Surprise surprise. Avoid at all cost. Take Windstar Wind Spirit instead. We have done it twice and it’s amazing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Orana, We arrived two days prior to departure to allow our bodies to acclimate to the time change. We chose May as this is the start of the winter season, which means less rain and kids still in school. Time difference was only 3 hours, ... Read More
Orana, We arrived two days prior to departure to allow our bodies to acclimate to the time change. We chose May as this is the start of the winter season, which means less rain and kids still in school. Time difference was only 3 hours, but if traveling from east coast would highly recommend doing this. We arrived late, 10:10 pm. We arranged through Paul Gauguin to stay 2 nights at the Intercontinental Resort. Transportation was provided to the resort and then to cruise ship terminal. Pape’ete was 5 mi from resort, Too difficult to walk. We spent our first morning in town, then afternoon at the pool. The resort had a nice restaurant and bars, so really no need to leave. Boarding the ship was easy. Can’t get onboard until after 3pm so no need to arrive early. Once onboard the food and drink experience begins! We stayed in a balcony room 622 - port side. Having a balcony came in handy to dry out all our wet things from rain and water excursions. If we didn’t have a balcony we would have taken advantage of unlimited laundry service they offered, I think for only $200. Our room was centrally located, close to everything - using the stairs as only 2 elevators. Room was adequate size. Lots of storage. Have plenty of both 220 & 110 plugs available, no need to bring converter. The shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel seemed cheap or diluted. No lather noticed when used. Other cruisers who had rooms on the 6th floor more forward, above the Le Salon, said they heard the evening shows from their room each night. They said it was very loud. Our cabin stewardess Clara, was wonderful. Very helpful! Day 2 in Variao-Tahiti Iti. Paul Gauguin is the only Cruise ship to come here. Not much to offer for excursions. We did Boat to Teahupoo surf site, exciting to see surfers in action with great photos, then we went to a snorkeling site. Few fish, not great, but fun to be in the water. Day 3 -Huahine -We took a Safari tour in am. It was very humid, so going early was good. We toured Huahine Nui. Roads all paved and in good shape. Went to Pearl/Pottery farm by boat, vanilla farm, sacred sites and few other good photo op spots including a Belvédère. Guide Josefina was very informative. We used bug spray for all land excursions and didn’t get any bites. Day 4- Paul Gauguin Motu. We didn’t do an excursion this day as all was provided. Take first or second tender over to claim a spot & lounge chair. We snorkeled here, saw more than in Vairao. You could kayak as well. The BBQ was excellent and again unlimited drinks. Many local people selling their wares including pearls. I thought they were a little pricey. Day 5 - Bora Bora We took the Safari Jeep Tour 4x4 in the morning. It rained all morning, jeep trail was rough going up mountain. We Toured around the island, visiting World War 2 Artillery sites, a plantation with a view while watching an artist painting a pareo. In the afternoon we walked around the small town. Went to Tahitian Pearl Market and bought a pendant and earrings. (FYI: We attended the Pearl Lecture offered on the ship which was very informative. We have a whole new appreciation for pearls) I picked my own pearls to be mounted. They give you a certificate of authenticity and duty free price. This was fun and fair priced compared to others we saw. Day 6 - Bora Bora Went scuba diving twice. First site Tapu was lovely. Lots of coral, fish and a few reef sharks. Second dive was Anau- it was awful! Low visibility and saw nothing! A Rare fish and little coral. That afternoon we hired a local as wanted to see more sharks and rays. (M/S PG excursions book up fast for this and rightfully so) Got to see lots of reef sharks and manta rays. It rained on and off all day. Make sure you have a waterproof bag to protect your phone and camera. Day 7 - Moorea Beautiful island. Went scuba diving in the morning to “The Ledges”. This was our best dive. Got to see turtles, reef sharks, lots of fish and coral. In the afternoon took the slow paced E-bike tour. We rode over 20 miles! Thank goodness for the electric support which made it much easier. Went to top of a Belvédère for great photos, Stopped at agricultural school for treats, as well as a pineapple farm. Thought I would be sore the next day but pleased I was not! That night we set sail for Pape’ete and arrived back in port early that evening. Lots of activities to do on ship. We didn’t partake during the day as always off the ship enjoying island sites. Every morning we went up to deck 8 at La Pallette to view our new port. Phillip would make us a yummy juiced beverage and a cappuccino to start our day. We always came back to ship at lunch. Each day in La Verranda they had a themed lunch (Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc) Such variety! Each afternoon as the ship set sail the Santa Rosa Band played around the pool. It was great to sing along and have a refreshing beverage. They were awesome! We loved to go to the piano bar to meet up with new found friends and have a pre dinner drink/appetizer. Anthony always was prepared for us! We played different trivia games, which were hard, but thankful for my husband/friends, we won 3 out of 4 nights! (We shared our prizes with second place teams as we only needed one pen and magnet). We only saw 2 of the shows at night. A tribute to the Beatles by the Santa Rosa Band was great and the Variety Show (not so good). They started each night at 9:30 - difficult for us to stay awake. We heard the crew show was great! The restaurants were all different- L’Etoile - main restaurant, menu changes daily. Always something good to choose from. No reservations needed. La Verranda- came here for breakfast and lunch on most days. Lovely view! Have same menu for dinner which was Okay but not favorite. Must make a dinner reservation. Le Grill - must make a reservation here for dinner also. Same menu nightly. It was outdoors, no a/c, so warm for lunch. Departure- we didn’t fly out until midnight so had a day room arranged by Paul Gauguin to go to La Ora Resort in Pape’ete. In the morning, we got to stay onboard the shop and enjoy all amenities including lunch. We departed at noon, went by bus on a 2 hour tour of town, then to the resort. Again, it was cloudy and rainy, but lovely grounds to walk about. Rooms were comfortable. Pool side restaurant served dinner and had local band. We were able to relax, shower, then taken back to airport. If you have access to internet would check in for your flight home. Even though we had assigned seating, the check in process would have been much faster if we had pre- checked before arriving at airport, allowing us to go through much shorter line. Air Tahiti Nui service was great! We were served 2 meals each way. All beverages were free including alcohol. Offered over 40 movies and many video games to choose from. Made for a “quick” 8 hour flight to LAX. We chose the 240 hr internet package on board the ship. Make sure you logout fully as directed. Many passengers didn’t and lost all their hours overnight! We quickly checked our emails once a day. At end of cruise we still had over 100 hours to use! All and all, our experience with Paul Gauguin was wonderful, a trip that will never be forgotten! Hope this post was informative and helpful. Happy cruising!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We booked this cruise to celebrate our 40th anniversary. This is our third Windstar cruise in the past 5 years and it was amazing. 140 passengers, 102 crew members that spoiled us for 11 days. Our trip included airfare and all the ... Read More
We booked this cruise to celebrate our 40th anniversary. This is our third Windstar cruise in the past 5 years and it was amazing. 140 passengers, 102 crew members that spoiled us for 11 days. Our trip included airfare and all the transfers during the trip. We were met at the airport and taken by bus to the Intercontinental Hotel for our overnight stay. This hotel is a lovely oasis with a variety of pools, a lagoon and beach with plenty of water sports activities. All the transfers were smooth and efficient. The check in process at the ship the next afternoon was smooth and fast. Our cabin was mid ship on the first level. The cabin is small, but very well appointed. Plenty of space for our bags, our clothes and snorkeling gear. The cabin steward kept the cabin clean and neat throughout the trip. We purchased the laundry plan and each morning a bag of dirty clothes were picked up and at the end of the day clean clothes were waiting for us in our room. It allowed me to pack all the clothes I need for an 11 day cruise including my snorkel and mask in a single carry-on suitcase! My wife has some food allergies and wait staff on board made sure that her food was prepared in a manner to not allow any cross contamination that might impact her health. Breakfast and lunch were served with the choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Breakfasat included a nice spread of fruits, fresh baked goods, buffet style eggs, bacon, sausage, etc or you could order a made to order omelet, or a choice of about a half dozen other entries that were varied each day. (Pancakes, french toast, eggs benedict, ....). Lunch included a choice of salads, a handful of buffet style entries and a fresh food station that varied each day (tacos, pasta, roast). The wait staff provided excellent service. Dinner was served most nights in the large indoor dining room, and one night on deck in the open air. Each night the menu offered an amazing variety of starters, main courses and desserts. The dinner on deck featured grilled seafood, steak, pork and chicken options. We took a number of tours that were arranged thru WindStar. The Blue Lagoon tour on Fakarava was sold out before the cruise, so we took the Snorkeling at Pufuna tour. There was a strong current that afternoon and this tour was probably our least favorite of the cruise. Book the Blue Lagoon if you can, the people that took that tour said it was very good. On Rangiroa we took the Snorkeling at the Aquarium Coral Garden trip. It was a short boat trip to the coral reef and water was teaming with colorful fish. That afternoon we took the tender into the dock and walked around the island. We had a very pleasant stop at Josephine's overlooking the pass. The day at Motu Mahaea was excellent. We did not do an excursion that day. We swam in the waters off the private beach, enjoyed the excellent bbq lunch and strolled around the island. It was a fantastic day. The two days at sea were a little rocky. I would recommend getting the seasick patches beforehand. On Huahine we took the Sacred Sites & Cultural Walk. Our guide Manu was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about the Polynesian people. The hike up to one of the sacred sites was not for people with mobility issues. Bora Bora was fantastic. We booked a trip via Trip Advisor with Tohora Bora Bora that was outstanding. We also booked the Shark and Manta Ray encounter with WindStar. Swimming with the sharks and rays was a highlight of the trip! For my money, Moorea was the most beautiful of the islands. My wife booked the Dolphin outing and had a great time. I booked the photo tour with Eyes of Moorea. Reno took us up to Magic Mountain and the Belvedere lookout and gave us some great tips on how to shot interesting travel photos. Overall, the tours and excursions that we took really added to our enjoyment of the cruise. Since this ship is smaller than most, it can anchor in areas away from the larger cruise ships. In fact, we only had one day out of 11 where we saw another cruise ship at the same port as we were visiting! We enjoyed the back of the ship sports deck and equipment a number of times. My friend took out the sailboat and kayak and we found that swimming behind the ship was a great way to relax after a morning of visiting one of the islands. This cruise is a great way to see French Polynesia. Excellent service, food and activities. My wife and I have traveled extensively over the years and I have to say that this trip is one of the highlights of all our travels. I look forward to returing to these islands again. Read Less
Sail Date May 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 windspirit, windstar cruise was brillant. Ive been on about 7 cruises and this surpassed them all. What a great way to see six islands in seven days without hassles of unpacking, travel time and moving. The windspirit only had 130 ... Read More
The windspirit, windstar cruise was brillant. Ive been on about 7 cruises and this surpassed them all. What a great way to see six islands in seven days without hassles of unpacking, travel time and moving. The windspirit only had 130 passengers and 100 crew. The food was fabulous - available 24 hours. The crew were so friendly and helpful. They were amazing at remembering names. Our standard cabin level 1 was spacious and comfortable. The shower was really good. And the clothes line got lots of use for drying our wet swimwear each day. We visited Moorea, Raiatea, Taaha, Borabora (2 days) and Huahine. Highlight tours included the stingrays in Moorea. Just do it. They are much much much better in Moorea than borabora (we did both). The motu (island) day in Taaha and borabora. These were fantastic with a great show in Borabora. Sailing away with music, sails and sunsets - magical. But the music is only played at the back of the boat so if you are standing at the front like us on the second day you will miss the music. Drinks were reasonably priced (us8 for a cocktail). But all non alcoholic drinks are free so if you wanted a mocktail they were all free. We booked a private charter in borabora with pure snorkelling. Totally recommend this. It was fantastic. The disappointments were Huahine. Locals just werent welcoming of cruise ships and expressed their displeasure numerous times. I also got tired of the male put downs by the “female” island tour guide. We did a snorkelling trip and dont recommend it at all. it was suppose to be three hours and was less than two with one stop. And the guide didnt even get in the water and point things out - too busy on her phone, Others didnt think their land trips were much better. So do your own thing in Huahine. The food was fantastic. We booked candles (outside deck) in bora bora and this was very nice (although we missed out on the seared tuna at the restaurant that night). Room service available 24 hours and we ordered nacho chips, salsa and guacamole a few times. Also once we were late back from our private tour so we had room service lunch. Variety at breakfast was very good - french toast our favourite. My other disappointment was the water platform. We did the sea biscuit in Moorea at the water platform on the boat. This was great fun. I tried to do it again with my son on other days but one family dominated the water platform water skiing. One day we were told they were closed for lunch for an hour, so we came back and they said they were packing up in half an hour and couldnt take us. The paddleboards were old and waterlogged. However, we did enjoy swimming at the water platform. I think they need a booking system for skiing, wave boards and sea biscuit I highly recommend a windstar cruise and a fantastic way to see so much. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our 7th WindStar cruise (over the last 14 years) -- the 4th on one of their sailing ships. We'd talked to lots of fellow cruisers over the years and asked what they'd recommend for seeing Tahiti, and WindStar seemed ... Read More
This was our 7th WindStar cruise (over the last 14 years) -- the 4th on one of their sailing ships. We'd talked to lots of fellow cruisers over the years and asked what they'd recommend for seeing Tahiti, and WindStar seemed the top pick. We're quite active and enjoyed the sporting options this itinerary and this ship provided. We found the food to be really good -- better than our second most recent cruise, a crossing on Seabourn. This Windspirit ship a very small ship and you do get to know the staff quite well. All staff did exceptional jobs. Special requests were handled with pleasure. The reception staff were the best I've ever seen on a cruise ship. All staff except for one waiter met or exceeded our high expectations; that one waiter, unfortunately, was consistently disappointing. Cocktails were also well done. We've sailed at least 3 times with this Bar Manager, Bien. The team is enthusiastic. We asked for several special mix cocktails and all were great. There is minimum entertainment on the ship -- so if you want dancers and musical shows, look elsewhere. I struggled ahead of the cruise with logistics -- what nights of the cruise were special items on offer, what time would be be allowed aboard, and what time are we kicked off at the end? I offer the following Day-by-Day rundown in case it's helpful to others. We try to pack minimally, and it would have been useful to know that we could wear shorts/jeans on 3 of the 7 nights. Tuesday -- arrive Tahiti from San Francisco on United. Overnight on our own Intercontinental. Wednesday -- Overnight Intercontinental Thursday -- Embarcation, starting at 1pm. We arrived at the pier at about 1:30 and waited about 30 minutes to board as there was a line. Biggest hold up seemed to be the physical inspection of luggage -- looking for bottles and confiscating bottles of Alcohol. We had 2 bottles of Champagne per cabin, which was allowed through. We booked Candles this night -- dinner on the back deck of the boat; so shorts/jeans allowed this night. Friday -- Moorea, via Tender. Saturday -- Raiatea, Docked. Deck Barbecue this evening, so shorts/jeans allowed. Sunday -- Taha'a -- all day on a private island, including lunch. You really don't go ashore to Taha'a, unless you're on a tour that goes there. Monday -- Bora Bora, via Tender. Tuesday -- Bora Bora, via Tender. Evening event is dinner with dancers on private island -- so shorts another night for dinner. This private island is available mid-morning to mid-afternoon for any guests who just want to be on a beautiful quiet beach. Wednesday -- Huahine, via Tender. Thursday -- Disembarkation. I believe we had to be off around 9am. Sofitel had a much better day-room option than the Intercontinental, so we arranged day rooms at the Sofitel and used taxis to get to/from the hotel. We flew out this same evening, on United. More details on what we did by day. Pre-Cruise -- we arrived in the evening 2 days ahead of the cruise, flying in on United from San Francisco. On arrival it was really hot, still, and very humid; I'd read this would be the case and I was still very surprised. I live on an island off the coast of South Florida -- so I'm used to warm days and nights -- this was downright hot. While we cleared immigration within minutes, others on our flight took about an hour to finally get through. There was a small group of singers/musicians welcoming the passengers to Tahiti. We'd rented a car from Avis to drive ourselves to the hotel for the night and to take us around the island the next day. The rental worked out well. Wednesday -- Full day on Tahiti. We'd arranged for a guide to take us on a 1/2 day hike to Fautaua Waterfall. The flora and fauna were spectacular, and the water was very refreshing. It was a pretty moderate to difficult hike given some of the roots and boulders we had to traverse, and we stopped short of the waterfalls given our pace and schedule. We did spend some time swimming in the river before we headed back down the trail. After the hike, we headed off toward some local sights including a great lookout, the Point Venus Lighthouse, and the Three Cascades Waterfall. We were about 1/3 of the way around the island at this point, and we decided to drive back / return the car as we'd only rented the car for one day. While the hotel is walkable to/from the Airport, it's quite a busy journey; we turned in the car and caught a taxi back to the hotel. Thursday -- We were out of our room by 11am and the hotel held our luggage until our departure at 1pm. Taxi from the hotel to the pier was about $25 USD. That was for 5 people and luggage. Once aboard the ship and after we'd unpacked, several of us went into Papeete to visit the Catholic Church and Market. The Church as interesting but incredibly warm. The market had some breeze blowing through it; none of the goods for sale spoke to us so we walked away having not purchased anything. Sail away was around 6pm. Some of our companions had never experienced a WindStar sailing ship sail away and they marveled at spectacle. We'd arranged for dinner on deck this evening, so we didn't need to change out of our shorts. It was a very short 2.5 hour sail to Moorea, where we anchored off shore for the night. We knew our sailing month, April, was near the end of rainy season, and we had a small shower near the end of dinner. Staff had anticipated this event and arranged all tables under cover. The shower was over quickly. Friday -- We'd arranged for a rental car on Moorea so that we could do two things -- hike the Three Coconuts Trail and drive around the entire island. Avis picked us up at the dock...but as we were 5 people and their car only fit 4, two of us had to drive to the rental office, get the rental car for 5 people, and drive it back. So we wasted some 45 minutes; this came back to haunt us as we tried to get some local fish (Poison Cru) at the highly rated beachside restaurant Snack Mahana; they had run out of food and closed early this day. Besides our Windstar ship, the Paul Gaugin was also on Moorea. The Three Coconuts Trail was beautiful; as it had rained the night before, some of the path was very muddy slippery. One of our folks abandoned the hike and headed back to wait for the rest of us. We didn't have a guide this day but did have a detailed GPS map that came in handy twice on the return as we somehow lost the trail. The drive around the island was mildly interesting; we were, however, tired and hungry. Saturday -- Raiatea. In the morning we'd planned to hike to the Mt. Tapioi, where the Communications Tower is located, for a great birds eye view of the island. The afternoon we'd booked a spectacular drift snorkel through the coral gardens -- one of the highlights of the trip. We were not successful on the hike as the path traverses private property and the property owners close the road to tourists on the weekend; we were in Raiatea on Saturday. I'd emailed the listed address on the sign asking permission to hike the trail on Saturday and the mailbox was no longer valid; some locals asked us to leave. We had a wander along the coast and visited a local market. The afternoon drift snorkel was arranged through Te Mara Nui Plongée. Cost was 8,000 CPF/person, payable day of, in cash. We were told to bring masks, snorkels, and water shoes; not fins. We had 3 or 4 runs through the coral gardens. It was surreal to see such beauty as you floated by in the current. The boat anchored off a little island and we waded ashore. We then walked the length of the island with the guides (there were 2 guides with us). The guides explained that we entered the current and floated back towards the boat. The float took maybe 20 minutes, where we waded back to the island and repeated. We saw lots of fish, some beautiful soft coral, some blue lipped clams, and even an octopus; the octopus was just as interested in us as we were in it. There were far less snorkelers this day than the ship's organized tour the next day to the same location. When we returned to the ship, some local ladies were instructing guests how to make outfits from local fabric and how to dance. The evening's deck barbecue was great -- I especially liked the suckling pig and the lobster. There was lots of line dancing, and then dancing under the stars. The last dancers left around 11pm. Sunday -- Taha'a. We enjoyed the private island all day. WindStar had all of the water toys at the beach for guests' use; there was a full bar set up, and there were tons of longers, both in the sun and in the shade. We stayed at the beach all day. Monday -- Bora Bora. We hadn't planned anything for the morning. For the afternoon, we'd arranged an island tour with Natura Discovery. Cost was $70 each, payable day of in cash. The met us at the dock, with an covered but open 4X4 vehicle. We took a trip around the island, stopping at the beach, a plantation, a WWII site, and several lookouts. First stop was at the famous Bloody Mary's restaurant and bar. It was a really nice tour. Once back at the ship, several of us tried wakeboarding with the Watersports crew. All of us got up on the wakeboard -- some of us for a few seconds and others for a few minutes. One other in our group loved lounging on the floating pads behind the ship. Tuesday -- Bora Bora. In the morning we'd arranged a single dive with Dive 'N Smile. Three of our group were certified divers and two were not. Cost was $100 for the certified folks and $110 for non-certified. Patrick was the Dive Master and he had a great casual way about him that relaxed everyone -- he was superb! The scenery was good, not great. We're very glad we did this as we wanted to say we've been on a dive in Bora Bora. Patrick brought us directly back to the ship. We grabbed a quick lunch and changed into our swimsuits as we were headed to the island where tonight's dinner was planned. The water toys were on the beach but no other services were provided (towels and drinks had to be brought with you from the ship). The evening dinner was really good. The food was good, the dancers were good. It was a pretty magical evening under the stars. Wednesday -- Huahine. We'd planning to rent bicycles and do a self tour around the island. Instead it rained quite hard for a few hours this morning. I understand some tours went as scheduled and some guests had a lovely picnic on a sand bar in the rain. Once the rain stopped, we did have a wander about the town -- drinks in the yacht club, a visit to the beach, a visit to the church, and a visit to the Distillery, where we purchased several local concoctions. Our "rent bicycles" plan seemed very flawed as there were no apparent places to rent bicycles. Huahine is quite a sleepy place, so make sure you plan ahead if you want a car, bike, or driver for wandering around. Thursday -- We'd booked day rooms at the Sofitel. They offered us day rooms for 18,000 XPF per room. We had the room from 9am - 6pm. I wrote to the concierge email address listed on their website to get his offer. The Intercontinental wanted us to purchase rooms 2 nights in order to use the facilities during the day from 9am-6pm. Hope this is helpful to others. I'd highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise specifically due to the smaller number of passengers. We like a less crowded experience. We really loved the locals who entertained us and helped with local crafts. What a way to learn! If was fantastic. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically due to the smaller number of passengers. We like a less crowded experience. We really loved the locals who entertained us and helped with local crafts. What a way to learn! If was fantastic. We haven't cruised in a long time, but found getting aboard and finding information about the excursions we chose very easy. Of course there was no shortage of people to help you! We dined in all of the restaraunt's and they were all superb. Staff were very courteous and never seemed so overwhelmed with passengers that they couldn't provide good service. I loved the ports. I especially liked Huahine but maybe it was our tour guide. We did the 'Sacred Sites' one and our guide was very well educated and also could answer random questions about plants, shells, animals........and what a sense of humour! Of course the picnic on Motu Mahana was so incredibly relaxing.....or busy if you wanted to partake in water actvities. Did I remember to say how beautiful the Motu is!! On our last day at Mooreau we spent at the InterContinental Resort and Spa, my husband enjoyed to rest by the pools and read. A rest after nearly 5 weeks of traveling. It was our 40 wedding anniversary and we had a wonderful sunset cruise of the bay in Bora Bora and a private dinner on the ships marina! It was so romantic, the highlight for sure. The staff did such a good job of keeping this a secret from my husband and he loved the surprise. Thank you for that! Loved the entire experience and would love to do it all again........ Read Less
Sail Date March 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
We had sailed on the Wind Star in Costa Rica a few years ago and were impressed. The Wind Spirit experience was even better. At the end of the cruise, the disembarking guests were hugging the crew members, something I had never seen on ... Read More
We had sailed on the Wind Star in Costa Rica a few years ago and were impressed. The Wind Spirit experience was even better. At the end of the cruise, the disembarking guests were hugging the crew members, something I had never seen on any other cruise. It felt like we had actually become friends during the 11 days on board. We had exchanged stories about families, careers, and felt we got to know them personally. Special recognition is owed to our cabin steward (Farid) the ladies at the front desk (Maggie and Gretchen) and the servers that took care of us (DeDe, Bambang and Edison). They consistently went above and beyond whatever was asked of them and seemed to genuinely enjoy working with the guests. The maitre d' (Rafal) runs a great operation. The food was consistently excellent, and included locally sourced seafood, as fresh as you can get. The picnic dinner the staff put on ashore on the small island ("motu") involving native dishes must have involved a huge amount of work, but was done flawlessly. Many small touches added greatly to our enjoyment. When we returned to the ship from an excursion, we were usually hot and sweaty. Right at the top of the gangway were cold, wet towels to wipe your face and neck....pure heaven. We did three of the excursions offered through the ship and loved them all, especially the "shark and stingray encounter" which was magical. Martina, the "Destination Manager" was always available with good advice on shore trips. I honestly can't offer a single serious criticism or suggestion to improve the cruise. In fact, my only negative observations would be very minor : more shade on the afterdeck would help cool off while sipping a tall drink following a day in the tropical sun. Tables with umbrellas were at a premium. My second observation seems trivial even to me, but I was not impressed by the musical due "Wake Up" that played in the lounge. They seemed to be lip synching nearly every song. Sometimes one or the other would stop in the middle of a song but the singing/playing continued. I heard several other passengers comment on this. The sailing crew, the ones behind the scenes, made sure everything went smoothly, like the tenders or zodiacs for shuttling passengers between ship and shore and the distribution of snorkeling gear. Although not for small children or those with mobility problems, I would recommend this cruise to anyone, and will always have fond memories of my Tahiti vacation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The occasion was our 20th wedding anniversary, and we wanted to have a luxurious cabin on a great ship with no hassles. We are older and can't be bothered. We did a lot of research, planned and saved for a couple years so we could do ... Read More
The occasion was our 20th wedding anniversary, and we wanted to have a luxurious cabin on a great ship with no hassles. We are older and can't be bothered. We did a lot of research, planned and saved for a couple years so we could do everything first class, and this cruise, and this ship, really hit the mark. Pre-cruise Papeete 3 days/4 nights Because our cruise would take us only to 3 other Tahitian ports, we wanted to spend our first few days on vacation in Tahiti in an overwater bungalow. We booked the Intercontinental Tahiti online at Expedia, which was a couple hundred dollars cheaper than booking direct with the hotel but very pricey. The overwater bungalow was fabulous, and the Intercontinental property was beautiful with an amazing lagoon swim-up bar ... We did a renewal of our vows on a little island in the lagoon that the wedding coordinator at the hotel arranged, and it was wonderful. Drawbacks of the hotel: Food and drinks are very expensive, and the snorkeling is not great. Although the ocean is warm and the water is clear, not many fish and no coral reef to speak of. I did a scuba dive with TopDive at the hotel and did see a LOT of sharks, so that was fun. If we did this again, though, I would take the ferry to Moorea to spend a few days. It looks like a quieter, prettier island than Papeete, although our room, and our view from the balcony across the water to Moorea, and our time at the Intercontinental were all delightful. Day One Embarkation My husband always wants to be everywhere early, so we arrived to the dock a half-hour before we could board, even with our 11 a.m. boarding time (suite people get to board early! La!). It was very easy to leave our bags and go aboard to the lounge where they had set out danish and coffee and tea and water for the many people who had already arrived and were waiting to board. Then we were surprised when they announced they were prepared to check people in and as we were there, they would begin -- and even more surprised to discover our room was already ready for us. We were in our room 15 minutes before we were supposed to even be able to check in. Do not be afraid of some kind of cattle call or long lines to board and get checked in; Oceania seems to have this well in hand. The ship is beautifully appointed! I loved the artwork everywhere which seemed whimsical and classical all at once. We chose a suite because we didn’t want any hassles ever. Only the Marina and its sister ship the Riviera have the particular suite we chose, the Oceania suite. We liked the looks of it when we saw the photos and layout on the website, and it had a champagne bubble tub on the balcony. Our cruise had a lot of days at sea, so I thought luxuriating in that tub would be perfect. As it happened, we stayed so busy, I only used it a few times! The amenities with a suite are lovely. There was a bottle of champagne on ice when we arrived, and we also were able to choose 6 bottles of spirits or wine for the rest of the cruise, which we never even finished them all. We also got 3 bags of complimentary laundry, canapes every afternoon, turn-down service with chocolates, and a butler who brought ice, kept the fridge stocked with soft drinks, brought newspapers in the morning and would make dining reservations, serve room service, and more. We had some friends over and he even brought a tray of snacks for them ... He was delightful. His name was Logesh, and he was from Madras, India. We loved him. The suite itself was amazing. I have cruised on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean, and never saw anything like this. The suite had a living room/dining room, including a nice sitting area where we put together a jigsaw puzzle. Again, I thought with the days at sea we would need something to do in the evenings, but as we came to the end of the cruise, I had to invite friends in to finish the puzzle with me. Which turned out to be great fun, actually. There was also a huge closet, a media room with TV and a huge selection of on-demand movies, a guest bathroom in the entry hall and a huge master bath with double vanity, separate shower and whirlpool tub. It was insane! When we cruised before, it was with children and grandma and economy was a priority, so we had to cram suitcases and kids everywhere … I could not believe the amount of space we had. We were seriously like gypsies in the palace in this place. Oceania seems to attract an older crowd; there were no children on board and very few young people. It’s also a smaller ship. It can take 1,250 passengers, and on our cruise, there were only 800 aboard, so there was never a crowd and never a wait for anything. And no blaring music or crazy contests or rowdy folks at the pool bar. Nothing at all for children or teenagers or wild young adults to get up to, but perfect for relaxing and enjoying the scenery and amenities. We took a knife skills class in the culinary center, which was excellent, and I had a spa day that was luscious on one of our days at sea. Plus we were pretty regular players of trivia and the beanbag toss, winning enough Big-O points to score 2 t-shirts, 2 hats, and a tote bag, I believe. Ship life was good for old folks! Day 2 Raiatea, French Polynesia All these French Polynesian islands are lush and lovely from what I saw! Bright sparkling blue water, gorgeous sandy beaches, and mountainous jungle-looking areas. Raiatea no exception. Here we docked, and this was good for my husband who is disabled and found it onerous getting on and off the tenders. We had booked a private tour with Excursion Bleu and Capt. Bruno. It was a whole day of snorkeling, a visit to a vanilla farm, a visit to a pearl farm, and lunch on the beach -- all by boat. The water was clear, we snorkeled with sharks, the beaches were beautiful, and the visit to the pearl farm was delightful. Learning how they get the beautiful Tahitian pearls was fascinating -- and of course my hubby doled out to get pearl pendants for me and his daughters who loved them! The lunch was fish and chicken with rice and breadfruit and plantains and coconut bread and all good things. Days 3-4 Bora-Bora French Polynesia Bora-Bora is amazing. The iconic view of those mountains from the sea ... It was stunning. Like you were sailing through a postcard. Our first day we had another snorkel adventure with BBQ and entertainment on the beach again. The company we booked with is Mahaoi Nui, and everyone said to do "Patrick's Tour." Patrick was booked up, so I decided on this snorkel tour with his same company and enjoyed it a lot. The dive guides played ukelele and sang as we cruised between the snorkel stops. Our first stop was in about 21 feet deep water, clear, warm, lovely to float in, and we were again snorkeling with sharks! It was amazing to see so many gorgeous black-tip reef sharks, so close at hand. Really enjoyed it! I think there were 3 snorkeling spots, total. At lunch there was suckling pig that had been cooking for hours in the oven in the ground ... It was like a luau, plus a bit of Tahitian dancing and fire dancing to entertain us. Next time (if we can ever go again) I will book earlier and get Patrick's tour, which includes a land tour rather than a boat tour, but I found this snorkel tour to be delightful. And the scenery amazing. On day 2 we used some of our shipboard credit to book Le Truck Tour, an open-air sort of bus that took is all around the island on land to see the amazing vistas, the remnants of WWII US military having been here, such as canon on the hillsides, and a short stop at "The World Famous Bloody Mary's," a beach bar named for the character from the South Pacific films. That was a fun photo opportunity. We also had a stop at a place where they make pareos, and it was fascinating to see how they dye them to get those beautiful colors and patterns. We enjoyed this tour a lot. I think we might've roamed around the main town afterward (a lot of our fellow cruisers did), but it was quite warm, and with my husband's disability, he finds it hard to walk far, so we were content to head back to the ship and relax that afternoon. Day 5 at Sea We had a lot of days at sea! They were all enjoyable because our cabin was like a little retreat for us, plus the activities and shows were fun. They have quite a good little entertainment troupe with some top-notch singers and dancers. There was also a magic show, and guest lecturers who were very good and entertaining! Also a "clean comedy" show which was quite good for all us uptight old white folks. Day 6 Fakarava, French Polynesia Another beautiful French Polynesian Island. In fact I think the beach we visited here may have been the most picturesque. It was one of those white sandy beaches, encircled by palm trees, but where the shallow water goes for yards and yards in front of the beach, so the water is so pale aqua it's almost white, and you can see where the water gets deeper as it's slightly darker ... It was stunning. We had booked another snorkel tour on the advice of Cruise Critic Forum members with Captain Ato. The first stop was quite a far boat ride, 40 or 45 minutes? I had read on Ato's website that there would be 6-8 people aboard, and there were actually 14, so the boat was a bit crowded. But most of the lovely cruisers we met were charming people, and some I even knew already from the Forum here, and so the crowd wasn't a big problem. Our first snorkel stop was in water I would say around 20-30 feet deep but with a beautiful patch of coral reef that came right up to the surface. There were 2 sharks, and a better variety of fish than I had yet seen in French Polynesia. Our next stop was, I believe, that beautiful beach. The boats dropped us off in water a couple feet deep, and we waded through the shallows into the beach. We were swimming or relaxing on the beach as the guides prepared the lunch. They broke the tops off coconuts for us to drink from, a true tropical picnic. The food was fish and sausage, rice and coconut bread, plus there was water and beer and juice ... Lovely lunch. Capt Ato told us the wind had changed so we couldn't get to the next snorkel stop he had planned for us, and he took us to a different beach, but the visibility for snorkeling there wasn't great; I sat out on the beach most of the time, enjoying the stunning scenery. I guess Ato was right about a change in the wind. As we left for the next snorkel stop, we were in bumpy water. Because of the crowd, I was right up at the front of the boat, and it kept riding up on the waves and then slamming down hard -- it became very painful by the time the day was over! The first four hours of this tour were terrific; the last hour was torturous! I am sure the change in wind and bumpy water were a surprise to Ato, and otherwise the tour had been great. Day 7-? At sea When we left French Polynesia, we had a lot of days at sea to Pitcairn Island (where we couldn't go ashore, and then on to Easter Island where we planned to go ashore). As I say, the days at sea were not bad at all. It did rain! We had several rainy days, so sitting by the pool wasn't so fun, but I had a luscious spa day one day, and suite guests get access to the spa deck where there are quiet and gently whirling thalassotherapy pools that I took advantage of, and of course, the champagne bubble tub on our balcony. And then there were the lectures! Gloeta Massie was the biologist who told us about the flora and fauna we would be seeing, as well as other astounding science stuff. Her lectures were hilarious as well as informative. If she's going to be on your ship, be sure you go to her talks! James Peterkin is an Easter Island expert who prepared us for both Pitcairn and Easter Islands with fascinating lectures on the history, culture, language, etc. His explanation of the Mutiny on the Bounty story was eye-opening and riveting. And his talks about Easter Island kept us all in suspense: what are those statues? why did they make them? why did they stop making them? what caused the collapse of Easter Island? He did a great job of preparing us for these stops! At Pitcairn the island is too tiny and infrastructure too small to accommodate a cruise ship full of people going ashore, so the islanders came to us. They set up shop with their handmade crafts, curios, t-shirts, postcards, stamps, etc. They were all very friendly and genial people and talented artists and craftspeople. One of them, an immigrant to Pitcairn, gave a talk about life on the island today which was quite interesting. We had more days at sea to Rapa Nui, which is what the locals call Easter Island. We were so ready to get a look at those statues! But we had been warned that there's no dock, and only a small harbor that's difficult to navigate, so it was possible our tenders wouldn't make it in if the weather was wrong ... So we did NOT get to set foot on Easter Island! This was the biggest disappointment of the entire cruise! We circumnavigated it, but did not get to see the moai for ourselves. Then it was back to see for a few more days. Let me mention the restaurants here. Oceania bills itself as having the finest cuisine at sea, and I can't argue. The Terrace Cafe, which is the buffet where you can always get any meal, was one of our favorites! They would grill you a lobster tail while you waited -- and some of their theme nights were terrific. Likewise one of my favorite meals was the brunch in the Grand Dining Room, which is the other place that's always serving with no reservations required. In fact, I think I enjoyed the food there every time we went. The specialty restaurants, where you had to have a reservation, were also quite good. The French restaurant, Jacques, has a menu by celebrity chef Jacques Pepin. I think Mike’s favorite was the steakhouse, Polo, and my favorite was the Oriental fusion place, Red Ginger. I had a trio of scallops there that was that perfect bite, where you put it in your mouth, and you have to stop and just sit a few seconds and let that deliciousness settle in … Lovely. There was also an Italian specialty restaurant, and surprisingly it was my least favorite of the 4. It did have WONDERFUL desserts, though. Definitely worth going. All the food was included in your fare, even the specialty restaurants, but those did require reservations, and I understand when the ship is full, it can be hard to get a reservation. We were guaranteed 2 reservations at each of the specialty restaurants because of our being in a suite, but we enjoyed Terrace Café and the Grand Dining Room nearly as much as the others; the food was all around very tasty. Day 16, Lima, Peru, Disembarkation Like everything on Oceania, disembarkation was easy. We did have to set our bags outside the door the night before like you do, but they took our bags to the JW Marriott where Oceania had a complimentary lounge for passengers who had to wait all day on their flight home, which we did. Our flight was at midnight that night. The service also included transfer to the hotel and from the hotel to the airport at the time of your flight -- I don't know if that was a benefit of our having a suite or if it was complimentary for everyone, but it was nice. To get a room at the hotel was about $350, and you couldn't even get into it until 3 p.m. I didn't want to spend the day at the hotel though and I had booked with ToursByLocals.com for a custom tour of Lima. We had read about Lima and decided we wanted to see the Inca market in Miraflores, the "Love Park" also in Miraflores, and the neighborhood of Barranco which is supposed to be scenic and touristy. Our guide had agreed to this and said she would also recommend a good place for lunch for us, and if there was time, show us the city center. Her regular half-day tour in Lima began in city center and included monasteries, museums and historic buildings that didn't interest us as much as the things we had prioritized. As the tour began, we were driven through horrendous traffic to the city center. I should have spoken up at that point and reminded the guide that we had arranged a custom tour with Miraflores and Barranco at the top of the list and the city center reserved for "if we have time," but I didn't speak up, so the rest is on me. The traffic as we took in the historic sites was atrocious, so the van stopped and starts in fits, and my husband got car sick! After a couple hours, I finally did say that we needed to stop by the hotel and let him get inside for a bit, but by the time we got there, he didn't want them to wait; he wasn't getting back in that van. So we didn't get to see the scenic sights in Lima we had hoped to see — and had paid to see! If you book with TBL, be sure you are clear on what you want to see and speak up if it is not happening. I should have. However we saw a bit of lovely scenery near the hotel. We walked across the street to a very modern and popular mall that's built into the bluff facing the coastline. It has a lovely children's playground and park on top, and all chic stores in the multi-level mall. It was a beautiful sunny day for a little stroll, so that was nice. But it still left us with hours to sit around the hotel until our ride to the airport and our midnight flight home. I fell asleep on the plane before it even took off and woke up when we were about 40 minutes outside of Houston … our dream trip of a lifetime was over! If you're looking for a cruise with a rock-climbing wall and a water slide on the ship, Oceania is not for you. But if you want to relax and enjoy great service and good amenities, I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Chosen for Easter Island port, but it was not meant to be. Surf conditions prevented us from going ashore. Whole ship disappointed. Anyone considering a similar cruise, recommend picking one with an overnight to double your chances of ... Read More
Chosen for Easter Island port, but it was not meant to be. Surf conditions prevented us from going ashore. Whole ship disappointed. Anyone considering a similar cruise, recommend picking one with an overnight to double your chances of getting on the island. Evening entertainment was not very good. With a few exceptions, evenings were pretty boring. Very few ballroom dancing opportunities, but when the band did play, they did a very good job. Take advantage of the pre-dinner happy hour, BoGo. The only downside is both drinks must be the same. The string quartet was excellent, the production cast, not so good. Enrichment lecturers were outstanding. Not sure I would choose Oceania for an itinerary with so many sea days again (we had 10). They did not have the staff nor a varied selection of activities to keep everyone occupied, but public areas were great if all you want to do is chill. New policies: complimentary use of self-service laundries and one free wifi connection per stateroom -- OLife choice not needed to get this amenity anymore. 2 great pluses! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019

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