Paul Gauguin Cruises
Fodor’s Expert Review
With one ship built specifically to sail the waters of Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific and synonymous with luxury and exotic destinations, Paul Gauguin Cruises remains a top choice for discerning travelers and honeymooners. The MS Paul Gauguin has been in service since 1998 and lays claim to being the only luxury ship in history to have offered a single-destination focus and high level of expertise on a year-round basis for such an extended period of time. The line now has a second ship that will sail in Europe and the Caribbean.Read More
The well-loved ship sailed for over a dozen years under the flag of Radisson (later Regent) Seven Seas Cruises until the ship was sold. Paul Gauguin Cruises began in 2010 with the single ship when the Paul Gauguin was acquired by Pacific Beachcomber SC, the largest luxury hotel and cruise operator in French Polynesia. In order to offer similarly luxurious cruises in other regions—Europe in summer months and the Caribbean during the winter season—the line introduced a second vessel, MVTere Moana in 2012.
Intimate and luxurious, Paul Gauguin ships offer a cruise experience tailored to the regions in which they sail. On board you can enjoy a dip in the swimming pool or simply relax poolside in a deck chair, with a good book and a beverage from the nearby bar. You won’t want to miss the Fare Tahiti art exhibit in front of La Veranda restaurant on Paul Gauguin, although you may want to bring your own reading material as the library has only a few shelves of mostly English-language books. Passengers aboard Tere Moana fare a bit better with a larger library. A relaxed atmosphere prevails throughout both vessels, but the cruise line definitely has a split personality, with voyages on MS Paul Gauguin limited to the South Pacific and those of MV Tere Moana as varied as the Caribbean and Europe.
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What to Expect on Board
On each ship, the main dining room, L’Etoile, serves French food with Polynesian flair and is open only for dinner.
For breakfast and lunch, you either order off the menu or make your selections from the extensive buffet in La Veranda, which often features fare with an international theme. In the evening, La Veranda is transformed into an elegant, reservation-only dining venue featuring gourmet cuisine. In 2013, the culinary creations of Jean-Pierre Vigato, chef and owner of the Michelin two-star Restaurant Apicius in Paris, made their appearance on Paul Gauguin Cruises vessels—in L’Etoile aboard Tere Moana and in La Veranda on the Paul Gauguin.Paul Gauguin also has Le Grill for a more casual dining experience for all meals; breakfast is a buffet, and lunch includes a choice of grilled favorites, salads, and fresh tropical fruits, while dinner features Polynesian specialties in a relaxed atmosphere.
All beverages, including soft drinks, spirits, beer, wine, and bottled water are included in the fare, and wines chosen to complement the menu are served at lunch and dinner. There is a separate charge for premium wines by the bottle and some other premium alcohol. For those on special diets, three options—vegetarian, light and healthy, and no salt—are available.
Excellent musicians with extensive play lists perform for listening and dancing from the sail-away party through the last farewell.
Paul Gauguin features Les Gauguines, a group of talented young Tahitian women, who travel with the ship to teach passengers about French Polynesia, as well as to sing, dance, and share the lore of their homeland. These young ladies add a dimension to the cruise that is not available anywhere else. Entertainment aboard Tere Moana is as varied as the destinations she visits, but always reflects the spirit of the region through which she is sailing. Nevertheless, entertainment aboard Moana is on a smaller scale, befitting a ship with only 90 passengers. Guest lecturers are popular on both ships. The small casino on Paul Gauguin offers gaming tables and slot machines. Tere Moana has no casino.
The line’s spas and fitness centers are on the small side, as would be expected on ships carrying fewer than 350 guests.
Each ship features the high-end Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm, noted for combining the art of gentle pampering with services that are uniquely tailored to each individual. Fitness centers are equipped with Lifecycles, treadmills, elliptical trainers, and weight machines. From the onboard water sports marina, you can go kayaking, windsurfing, or paddle boarding. Paul Gauguin features an exclusive, optional PADI scuba-diving program.
Key cruising tips
Paul Gauguin Cruises attracts passengers of all ages, and on Paul Gauguin especially you’ll see young honeymooners mingling with mature well-traveled couples. Most enjoy the relaxed atmosphere on board in addition to the exotic ports and unique experiences ashore.
Elegant resort casual attire is appropriate at all times. Slacks and a golf or sport shirt for men and sporty dresses or skirts or pants with a sweater or blouse for women are suggested for evening. Jackets are not required, but many men bring along a sport coat for the Captain’s Welcome Reception.
There are no dedicated children’s facilities or youth programs on board either ship. However, on the MS Paul Gauguin, the Ambassadors of the Environment Youth program, created in collaboration with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, is offered on select sailings. The program introduces participants ages 9 to 17 to the ecological wonders of Tahiti and French Polynesia by exploring coral reefs, hiking rain forest trails, and visiting ancient Polynesian temples. Otherwise, not a lot of kids travel on these ships, and there is nothing comparable on the Moana.
Service is attentive, but not intrusive. Top accommodations categories have butlers to provide an additional level of attention.
Tipping is neither required nor expected, though passengers can contribute to the crew welfare fund.
Guests become members of the Paul Gauguin Society upon completion of their first cruise and receive savings of 5% when reserving subsequent voyages.