After recently disembarking from my 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus cruise aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin, I was asked again and again by my friends and family, “What were your highlights?” Trying to explain to them that on a cruise aboard The Gauguin, it was “all highlights” didn’t really seem to please them. So after some careful consideration, I detailed my “Top Eight Things to Love about Paul Gauguin Cruises.”
Small Ship Size – As a veteran cruiser, I am used to large / giant ships. While these behemoths offer a wide range of experiences and events, most of it is wasted on a person like me who only wants to “soak up the Pacific vibe.” As well as this, when you get off at a port (or small island) with 3,000 to 5,000 other people, the whole nature of an environment changes. The genuine benefit of a ship like The Gauguin is that it can only take 332 passengers, so the culture you are visiting stays the same, no matter whether or not you are in port.
Also, on The Gauguin, you get to know new people very quickly as you keep bumping into them again and again. For a social butterfly like myself, this means you can develop some great and fun relationships over a cocktail or two early in the cruise.
Family Atmosphere – In an introductory speech to the passengers, our Cruise Director Máire called the crew the “family.” While this type of talk usually generates sceptical yawns with seasoned cruisers like myself, I actually got a real sense that this is very true on this ship. The crew of 217 (incidentally, one of the largest passenger-to-crew ratios in the industry) has a positive and engaging familiarity with both returning cruisers and each other, which was genuinely refreshing.
Motu Mahana, Party Island – While I have had the honor of being present at many awesome places and events around the world throughout my life, I have never before been to a place that is purely dedicated to a giant beach party. From the second you set foot on Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private island, you are there to do ONE THING ONLY: “Party like it’s 1999!” From the floating bar to the amazing BBQ lunch, this day will remain as a major highlight of my life!
Unique Destinations – Bora Bora is truly unique in the world, but my itinerary also featured incredible destinations that people tend to miss, including exotic locales like Fakarava, Rangiroa, and Huahine. While huffing and puffing as I cycled across the length of the thin atoll of Fakarava, I had the unexpected joy of getting caught in a rain shower, cooling me off and giving me the second wind I so desperately needed.
All-Inclusive – Being a bit of a “penny pincher” while cruising, I have always been cautious buying drinks and nibbles at the bar, as they tend to mount up in cost, giving me a nasty surprise when checking my credit card statement a month later. “Worry no more,” cruisers like myself! The all-inclusive aspect of Paul Gauguin Cruises was one of my real highlights! “Of course you can have a third Pina Colada my love,” I could be heard saying to my wife on various occasions, all free of the nagging fear of crippling debt on my return home.
Amazing Food and Service – Many seasoned cruisers are probably already aware of the incredibly high standard of food on The Gauguin. Having the same cuisine on board as Jean-Pierre Vigato once served in his Michelin-starred restaurant was truly amazing. However, it was the little things that made the food and service awesome, too. My 13-year-old son Joey was after something a bit different from the breakfast menu one day, and the lovely wait staff came to the rescue with fresh strawberry pancakes. Happy boy = Happy dad!
Les Gauguins & Les Gauguines – No description of a cruise with Paul Gauguin Cruises would be complete without acknowledging Les Gauguins and Les Gauguines. The highly talented onboard troupe of genuine Tahitian entertainers was amazing to watch. And, when they were not performing, they interacted regularly with the passengers so naturally, allowing you to see that their smiles were genuine with the pride they had in sharing their beautiful part of the world with us.
Private Beach in Bora Bora – Having a private beach was always a personal dream of mine. While I can’t claim this as my own, unfortunately, this stunning location is now my wife’s official “favorite beach in the world!” Incredible white sand, blue and aqua sea tones that you can’t quite believe are real, and beautiful coral, steps from the shore, all combined to blow my mind!
While the above description may well be enough to please my family and friends about our recent adventure, I hope I have done real justice in detailing my amazing experience with Paul Gauguin Cruises.
An inspirational author and awarding-winning speaker, Tom O’Neil has helped a wide range of people from students to CEOs achieve their personal and professional goals through his best-selling books, motivational speeches, and one-on-one coaching. He recently served as a guest host aboard The Gauguin.