Sailing with Paul Gauguin to The Fabulous Islands of French Polynesia

There's something to be said about being on a mere 300+ passenger ship and stopping in some of the most pristine places on this planet!  There's never a rushed or uneasy feeling, never waiting in a line or feeling like you're 'just a number'...only the feeling of being pampered, and as if you are the only one that matters...


Perfection to me comes in the form of beautiful turquoise waters with the backdrop of glorious mountains & scenery, and it comes in the shape of a tiny passenger ship that provides the ultimate in luxury cruising!  I have to say that this cruise experience has reshaped my whole thought process on what cruising means to me!  From the minute that I boarded the Paul Gauguin until the very moment that I got back on the plane to return home, I felt like I was part of a wonderful Tahitian family!

I knew the moment that I got to LAX to board the Air Tahiti Nui flight that I was in for something different!  There were actually two Paul Gauguin Cruise representatives at the check-in area for Air Tahiti Nui at LAX that were there for the sole purpose to meet the guests that were scheduled to fly over that night to board the ship for the upcoming sailing!  What other cruise line does THAT??  

It all flows so seamlessly .....at the other end in Papeete, there are again two Paul Gauguin Cruise representatives that greets guests with their traditional Tiare flower lei and direct them to the transfer vehicles for a quick five minute ride to the Intercontinental Tahiti where more friendly representatives are waiting for travelers to provide them with keys to their rooms for the day!  

What a great way to start a cruise!  The Intercontinental Tahiti ...









From the gorgeous panoramic views from the room, to the amazing landscaping, and friendly staff (including the male Tahitian greeter that is tattooed from head to toe), this is the perfect entry to 'vacation paradise'!

So enough about arriving...let's get to the ship!  After a quick transfer to the port, we were immediately brought onto the ship.  No checking in at terminal buildings in long lines, no formal 'stuff'....just Le Gauguines and Le Gauguin's (PGCruises hosts & hostesses) are there to greet you and just welcome you onboard!  We were in our room within 15 minutes of stepping foot on the ship!  The 'check-in' happens in Le Grand Salon on Deck 5, and then you're off and into your room within minutes.




Accommodations:  With a recent 'facelift' (March 2012), the rooms are looking great!  Beautiful lacquered Cherry wood furniture, Jacquard fabric (stunning!) marble bathrooms, plenty of storage space, everything is in top-shape!
It's such a small ship and everything is so nicely laid out so you are never more than a 2-3 minute walk at the most from anywhere. 



Dining:  What can I say?  With a 2-star Michelin chef overseeing the menus & dining experience in 2 of the restaurants, the meals are served to perfection. Le Grill and La Veranda are reservation-only restaurants, and guests are limited to dine in each of these one night a week.  Wines flow freely, and the wait staff is extremely attentive to each individual guest, which makes each dinner so special!  It amazes me how quickly they remember your name and your preferences.  Dining in L'etoile  the main restaurant, is nothing but extraordinary either.  One of my favorite 'daily dining events' was the Afternoon Tea....which was set up at Le Grill (which is poolside).  Staff would open up the doors of the restaurant directly adjacent to the pool, and set up a mini-buffet every day at 3:00pm and served some of the most delicious treats ever!


Entertainment:  This was one of the most obvious differences with every other cruise I have ever experienced.  The shows that they had at night enhanced the experience of French Polynesia, they did not overpower the experience.  For instance, on our stop in Raiatea, the entertainment for the evening was a group of Tahitian children from the island which they brought onto the ship to perform Tahitian dances for guests.  Another evening in Tahiti the performers were a group of Tahitian dancers that have performed competitively throughout the South Pacific, etc.  It was all low-key entertainment keeping the spirit of the islands in all of the performances that the cruise line offered.




Private Island - Motu Mahana:  This is absolutely a little gem of a island (motu) that PGCruises has staked its claim on!  What a great piece of real estate!  In my opinion Motu Mahana was one of the highlights of the cruise.  It's a tiny little pristine island that the cruise line has so beautifully added into all of the itineraries of the South Pacific.  Not only does it offer the perfect R&R day, but many activities & demonstrations are offered as well, like pareo-tying, or lei making, or a vanilla 'talk'.  The 'floating bar' certainly takes 'drinking' to a whole new level!  One of the friendly bar waiters will be waiting for you in the water to put a drink in your hand!

There are not enough adjectives to describe the beauty of the islands of French Polynesia, and no picture will ever do it justice either!  Bora Bora is simply 'paradise'....and the beauty of it is that it as you drive around Bora Bora you will see that the natives live such a simple life, there are no beautiful homes or fancy cars, just simple dwellings for the simple life!  It's the resorts that are over-the-top fabulous!  There is no lack of 5-star luxury property, especially in Bora Bora.  Just look at the way you're greeted when you arrive at the Intercontinental Resort & Thalasso Spa...



I could go on and on about the fabulous staff and the beautiful ship, great food, and more, but I think all of you know that it is a truly special experience. Paul Gauguin Cruises has certainly won me over, and I'm sure I will be sailing with them again in the future!  

For more information about Paul Gauguin Cruises or Tahiti, Bora Bora and the French Polynesian Islands, contact Vira Mastroianni at vira@largaytravel.com

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