Paul Gauguin Cruise Review
Itinerary: Tahiti & Society Islands - May 2012
We loved our PG experience. We are "small ship people" having sailed on Cruise West in Alaska and Costa Rica. We were concerned about the size of this ship and the overall atmosphere, as we are NOT big ship personalities. You have always steered us right in the past so we went with your recommendation.
Cabin The whole reservation process went smoothly. Category "D" cabin. We booked nine months prior and had a decent choice of cabin availability. Our cabin was lovely. Brochure says 239 sq feet including balcony. We had a queen bed, very comfortable mattress. Loads of closet and shelf space, nicely arranged with storage space on either side of the little dressing table with mirror. We had a sofa for sitting and could watch TV from the space. Refrigerator stocked with everything and replaced as soon as we used something. Bathroom was a good size, we had a tub, did not use, towels and shampoo were good quality, and we had a hair dryer. Balcony was good for two chairs and little table, large enough to enjoy.
Flight We flew the cruise line air. Air Tahiti Nui. It worked well. We checked prices on doing our own air, it was not worth it. We arrived in LAX a few hours early and took the 11:30pm flight arriving Tahiti early the next morning. 8 1/2 hour flight (one movie beyond Hawaii) was pleasant enough. We had good seats picked by PG and all went well. The staff changes into "island clothes" once into the air.
Arrival Once off the plane, it is Polynesian music for the next seven days. The smell of Gardenias in the air, sky of blues, gray and oranges. We are truly not in Kansas any longer. Airport was as little hectic, hot and humid, a we were tired. Our luggage came, our PG transfer was right there waiting for all of us. They ask you to identify your luggage before it goes on the bus, a little hectic and could have been done better but it is on Island Time. Off to the Intercontinental Hotel which we believe is owned in some form by PG. Gorgeous hotel, wish we had the time to come in a few days early. We didn't wait for our luggage we had our swim suits, our plan, swim and then sleep. We slept some, breakfast and were picked up and taken to the ship. All smoothly done.
Ship The ship was beautiful, it was large by our standards, but most important to us it had a casual, informal feel. It had a total refurbishment at the beginning of the year and it looked great. We wondered where the 400+ passengers were during the week, it never felt big or crowded and we know the ship was close to capacity. We got settled and did all our "chores" made restaurant reservations, got our snorkle gear on the Sports Deck, turned in our passports (they keep them for the cruise). Life jackets are not kept in the cabin but held at your Muster Station which was clearly marked in our cabin.
Food Way to much, way to good, way to fancy, way to delicious, had to refrain from all the options in the different restaurants. Le Grill favorite with fresh fish. Breakfast on our balcony was a treat. Snacks when we returned from shore excursions. The best. This was luxury.
Raiatea On Sunday, not the whole town was open, walked around town. Did an afternoon excursion Raiatea Highlights Island Tour $95pp, visited several historic sights on the island , along with education on the ancient culture, and way of life on the island. Spectacular bays, craters, wateralls. There was a local family with school children on the ship who were adorable and entertaining the guests. It was a good easy first day to get acclimated. Taha'a - Beach BBQ day on your private motu. This was the best. You get off the ship and tender in and are met by the beautiful Les Gauguines who are singing and playing their instruments. We had a lovely lunch of grilled fresh fish, healthy veggies and fruits and local drinks served in coconuts. You can swim and snorkel right off the beach, it was picture perfect. There was a little bazaar set up to purchase black pearls, coconut oil, milk, soap etc etc. The Les Gauguines say that their coconut oil keeps off mosquitos. Their skin is flawless, so who knows. We didn't do any excursions here as doing nothing in paradise was the most beautiful option.
Bora Bora Two days. We have our own beach next to the locals. We had a bar on the beach for drinks and snacks. Snorkeling was good, different than Taha'a. Did I mention there is a whole group who leave us and scuba. Couple in the cabin next to ours stayed on land for the night at the Intercontinental Thalasso Spa as it was their anniversary. hear very lovely but pricey. We didn't look into it as we are so happy with the ship accommodations. We signed up for an off road $129pp jeep tour around the island. Was a kick, bumpy, muddy, rained some, untraveled roads. The island is more gorgeous if possible, it is more built up with expensive hotels, Four Season etc. Better to get away from the "city" and explore the rest of the island. Next day we did Stingray Ballet and Snorkel Safari $105pp. We were in a covered snorkle boat and explored all of the BoraBora Lagoon. I did this in the Caribbean once with the Stingrays. Could also do this by JetBoat.
Morrea Two days, we tendered in again-Different than other islands, full of rugged peaks, volcanic craters, great waking trails and forests of chestnut trees. It is a one hour ferry from Papetee but worlds away. Great snorkeling. Did an ATV excursion to get on the other side the island. We felt comfortable with the equipment provided along with helmet. We went all over, visiting a local flower grower, pineapple plantation and a local gift shop and other places. It was a real fun, we got quite down and dirty as it had rained earlier in the day.
To sum it up...an all in all five star experience. We were surprised at all the repeat passengers who talked about how much nicer the ship was than their prior cruise a few years ago, before the refurbishment.
Now to go through my 1500 photos.
— Leon and Lor McMillian