As a travel professional, every now and again I have the opportunity to escort a small group of travelers to a fun destination around the world. It just so happened, that I was able to escort clients on an amazing Tahitian Adventure with Paul Gauguin Cruises these past two weeks (please see important disclosures)!
Taking off from Phoenix
We got lei’d
Bora Bora Greetings
Let’s start with the ship:
The ship is beautifully appointed, with just 332 passengers spread out over 8 decks.
The MS Paul Gauguin
There is ample public space, I never felt crowded. There is a nice outdoor salt water pool, a piano bar and a lounge, a big theater, gift shop, spa and a water sports marina.
The cabins are very nicely laid out. I would highly recommend to book into a balcony or veranda cabin (the veranda cabins on deck 8 come with butler service and offer the most privacy). We were located on deck 8, category B in cabin #806.
The marina is located on deck 4, aft of the ship and opens in various ports of call when able to. Paddle board and kayaks are available during those times free of charge.
The dive center on board is doing a fabulous job with keeping the dives in small groups and instructors are skilled and make divers feel at ease. We were fortunate enough to dive with a huge hawks-bill turtle, some black tip reef sharks and tons of colorful fish.
There are 3 restaurants on board: The Grill, La Veranda and L’Etoile
The Grill and La Veranda are buffet options for breakfast and lunch but turn into fine dining venues for dinner (reservations are recommended). L’Etoile is the main dining room, open for dinner only. While the Grill will offer Polynesian Inspired Cuisine, La Veranda offers a traditional French Menu. L’Etoile offers a mix as well as standard options. The line is doing an amazing job at facilitating passengers with food allergies and dietary restrictions. The head waiter met us for each meal to go over the dinner menu’s and make sure to review items with the chef. We had the most amazing meals on board! Also room service is available all day long free of charge! Make sure to order breakfast in bed during a sea day!
Entertainment on board is very diverse:
The line employs Gauguins and Gauguaines to teach traditional arts and crafts classes, talk about their local culture, pareo tying, ukulele classes and much more. We had various lectures on board about some of the local islands history, the story of Captain Bligh and enjoyed port talks and even pearl classes. The evening shows were well done and ranged from Polynesian Dance performances, to crew shows to musicians and dance parties. On Polynesian Night locals came on board to make us flower crowns and leis.
We lucked out on the weather and had 10 out of 11 days of blue skies and sunshine! The ship is truly like a floating over the water bungalow, taking you from island to island. It was amazing!
Now for the itinerary:
We cruised the Society and Cook Islands: Tahiti -> Huanine -> Day at Sea -> Aitutaki -> Rarotonga -> Day at Sea -> Bora Bora for 2 days -> Taha’a -> Moorea for 2 days -> Tahiti overnight. All ports, except Tahiti, are tender ports. The private beach in Bora Bora was the only wet landing on this trip.
At the end of the cruise, we spend the day at the Pearl Beach Resort with an included day room. We loved the unique black sand beach here and were happy to enjoy a nice leisurely afternoon.
The Society Islands are very lush, with thick forests covering the heart of the islands and mountains. Most of the islands only have one road, lending itself to easy exploration. While there is not a lot of wildlife on land, the waterways are full of colorful fish, rays, turtles, eels and small sharks. A snorkelers and divers paradise! Most snorkel adventures have to be done by boat, as the reefs are too shallow to explore from the beaches. In most places you can walk out into the ocean for 20-30 minutes and never get below knee-deep water.
Bora Bora Greetings
The Cook Islands are part of New Zealand and are very remote from everything. The islands are not quite as lush but the beaches and water-quality are jaw-droppingly beautiful. The photos really don’t do it justice…
Tour options on all islands varied widely, but included ATV/4X4 Tours, Snorkeling, Pearl Farms, Vanilla Plantations, Drift Snorkeling, Diving, E-Bike Tours, Wave runners, Helicopter/Light Plane Tours and much more… Paul Gauguin also has access to a private beach on Bora Bora (wet landing via tender) as well as a private island in Taha’a.
The private island was amazing! We enjoyed a Polynesian BBQ, huge coconut drinks, lots of snorkeling, a swim up bar, paddle boarding, kayaking and had the most amazing day exploring the small island.
If you are interested in doing some shopping on this trip, here are a few tips:
1. No need to exchange money into local currency. US Dollars are accepted on all islands and are calculated 1:1 for hassle free shopping
2. Buy your vanilla in Taha’a! You must be booked on an island tour to get to the main island and do your shopping. The ships tender only runs to the private island, but vendors are on site to satisfy your shopping needs
3. For pearls, make sure they are certified! Pearls are qualified in categories A-D, with A being the best. Even street vendors can certify their pearls, but you have to ask. Most vendors (even jewelry stores) are willing to barter with you. Make a reasonable offer and most of them will be very wiling to accept it. For cheap pearls ($5-$30 range for gifts) buy them in Bora Bora. They look nice and come in many styles, but they are generally quality C and D. For nice pearls, category B and A, I would recommend to purchase them in Moorea. From what I saw, this is where we got the best prices on quality pearls.
4. You cannot bring fruits or flowers back to the US.
5. Pareos should cost you about $10 each, not more, and are a lovely gift to bring back home.
6. Pack plenty of sunscreen – a tube on board and in port costs about $35! And don’t forget your bug spray! 😉
If you are feeling inspired, don’t be shy. I’d love to answer any questions you may have about the cruise line or the destinations!
Daniela Harrison is a travel consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff AZ. For more information or to start planning your next adventure, please reach out via email@example.com or call 928.556.0853 Ext 201
** The FCC wants me to tell you all the following: Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **