by Wynette Brecher, Travel Consultant
Dinner under the stars...A sunset beyond words...
It was hard to leave such a magical place...
I was fortunate to be able to sail around Tahiti and the Society Islands aboard the Paul Gauguin. If I can assist you with a Tahiti vacation (or anywhere!), please reach out to me.
My trip was pre-COVID. If you'd like to now more about the current health entry requirement, please visit https://cibtvisas.com/health-requirements and choose French Polynesia.
Flying to Tahiti
I flew on Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles. It is a nice carrier and we had an on time departure.
Two meals were served (main course and later a snack), I ordered my vegetarian meals in advance and they were quite good. They gave out little amenity bags with socks, eye mask, ear plugs and headphones. There were pillows and blankets on every seat with good entertainment options. We arrived Papeete in the early evening, transferred to ship, and we were in our cabin on the Paul Gauguin by 10:00pm.
Aboard the Paul Gauguin
Ship is lovely, small but very functional. The staff ratio was practically 2-1 and they were very accommodating. The pool is small but just big enough. It was filled with salt water, drained each evening and refilled each morning.
We had a far front cabin on starboard side. The the only issue was that we were above the show room (and went to sleep to the sound of drums) and near the anchor. Luckily we are early risers. I will make sure I don't book that cabin for my clients!
Our cabin was a nice size with tons of storage and good size bathroom. Our balcony was small but great and I could not imagine sailing without one on to that destination. The in-cabin arrival amenity was a big bowl of fresh fruit and bottle of champagne. The fridge is fully stocked with whatever you want as this cruise line is all-inclusive.
We started off our dining experience with a nice food buffet available for the late arrivals (us!). The food was very good, plentiful and fresh. I did meet with head restaurant maitre’ d as there were not many vegetarian options, but he said “we will make you anything you want”, and they did! Desserts were over the top! There were three restaurants on board, two of which required reservations for dinner and passengers need to do that as soon as you can onboard. We did not and could not get into those restaurants til end of our trip. This is another thing I will tell my clients!
The Other Passengers
The ship's capacity is 330 guests. Most are well traveled and over 50 yrs. There were a few small children and some teens, but I hardly ever saw them. There was a mix of nationalities with half of the passengers being French Canadian and the rest were Americans, French and Polynesian.
Spotting wildlife: From our stateroom balcony, we saw dolphins early one morning and some flying fish. I also a turtle in port at Bora Bora.
Water Sports: The water sports marina is off the back of ship, and kayaks, paddle boards, and wind surfers were available. They provide snorkel equipment but you cannot snorkel off back of ship, only ashore on the motus.
Spa & Fitness Center: The fitness center was small but satisfactory but no view. I did not use the spa but it looked nice.
Blessing Ceremony: We did not attend blessing ceremony as it was on the overnight in Bora Bora, but I saw the photos and it looked lovely. Lots of guests took part to renew their wedding vows.
Flowers: During lei and hei making, I made right there on the spot to match my dress. I was adorned with a neck lei as well as a wrist lei!
Entertainment: The shows were good and the Polynesian night was fun!
Shore Excursion - Moorea
Moorea: Our snorkeling excursion in Moorea was cancelled due to lack of sign ups. So we took the ship's shuttle to go to the InterContinental Moorea Hotel. The property was very nice and they gave us full access to pool/beach. Snorkeling was not great on property, but beach was lovely. Food was good, staff very nice and the grounds pretty. They do call their bungalows “over water” but they are actually on land and the deck is over the water. And they are just oversized rooms, not suites like at the Four Seasons. They do have a few that are truly over water and they are in the premium category.
Shore Excursion - Bora Bora
Bora Bora: it is possible to overnight ashore as a shore excursion at the Four Seasons Bora Bora. The resort picks you up in their private boat at the port of Bora Bora and 30 min later you are at the resort. They met us at the dock with juice, towels and leis. The resort is absolutely jaw dropping!
We did a site inspection upon arrival, exploring the property by golf cart. It is all over water bungalows or private villas on the beach. They are converting some of the bungalows to allow families to stay, not connecting, but with a wall built for privacy to house two bungalows together by a walkway.
We stayed in a mountain /lagoon view over-the-water bungalow, which are the best on property.
The bungalows are actually huge suites, large living room with sofa bed, leading to huge bathroom with separate tub and shower area (tub looks out on lagoon!). bedroom has king bed, also facing lagoon. It even had a glass bottom floor and we did see fish. We had room service and we did not want to leave! The deck was also huge with a large table for dining, two chaise lounges and a ladder leading right into the water.
The sunset was beyond words.
As full as the resort was we never saw anyone til we went to the restaurant the next morning. The breakfast buffet was plentiful.
They do about 1 wedding a day at this time of year. We did see a beautiful bride!
The resort had snorkel gear waiting on our deck. We snorkeled in their private lagoon and saw every fish under the sun and gorgeous coral. We were the only ones in the lagoon! Incredible.
Upon departure, the General Manager and Director of Sales came to see us off. They put a shell lei around our neck (right from their fridge, so very cool on a hot day!), and presented a glass of juice. Then the resort shuttled us back on 11:15am boat to the port in Bora Bora and we rejoined the cruise. It was hard to leave such a magical place. It was the cherry on the cake of the trip. Our last night was in Papeete and we had dinner under the stars. It was lovely!
The next morning we had a 4am wake up call, were off the ship by 5am,caught our flight at 7:50am, landed in LAX at 8pm.
Farewell to Paradise!
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