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Paul Gauguin Cruise Review: Tahiti & the Society Islands of French Polynesia

By Robert Herman

Looking for your next adventure? My wife and I just got back from a trip to Tahiti and the Society Islands in the South Pacific. It was a bucket list trip!

Whether you seek adventure, romance, or world renowned beaches, you’ll find it on a Paul Gauguin cruise. Check out the details of our seven-day vacation.

Where We Stayed in Tahiti

First, we stayed at the InterContinental Hotel Tahiti, which is about two miles from the airport. (Our taxi was less than $20.) The resort is a superb property with several restaurants and bars, two infinity pools, a fitness center, a business center, and a watersports/scuba center.

There are 218 rooms/suites – mostly oceanfront, with 28 overwater bungalows. We had an oceanfront room with a king bed, double vanity, shower and tub, and an outside area with a table and chairs.

Amenities

Entertainment shows are two times weekly. COVID testing, required by Paul Gauguin, was arranged by the hotel in our room for $27 each.

It is a short taxi ride to the business center in Papeete and the marina where the ship docks. Cost is about $25. Taxis take cash only, and you can pay with USD, Euros, or CFP Francs.

Here are pictures from the InterContinental Resort:

On-Board the Cruise Ship

We were on a seven-day Paul Gauguin cruise of the French Polynesia Society Islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora, Mo’orea, Taha’a, and Huahine. The ship carries 320 passengers, but there were only 214 passengers on our cruise and 280 planned for the next cruise.

The ship is 24 years old, but it was refurbished in 2020 and undergoes some updates yearly. The interior of the ship, including the cabins, were in great shape.

The service on-board was the best that we have ever had on any vacation! The crew called us by name after the second day, and we never had to wait more than a minute for service. The food was also incredible, with presentations and flavors to delight your senses.

Amenities

The ship has a small pool, fitness center, spa, library, non-motorized marina, showroom, main restaurant, and two specialty restaurants. There are also five bars/lounges located on the ship.

Your cabin price includes beverages, specialty restaurants, Wi-Fi, shows, and gratuities. You will pay extra for premium beverages, tours, scuba and spa services. Although we did not dive on this cruise, the ones that did said that scuba diving trips here were better organized than other dive trips, and the locations were fantastic.

Paul Gauguin is run by Ponant, and there are many French touches on the ship. All announcements are made in French and English.

On Taha’a, Ponant has a private beach barbeque. Swimming, volleyball, and massages were available.

COVID-19 Protocols

The global pandemic is still taken seriously. You had to be vaccinated and have a COVID test 24 hours prior to departure. The crew wore masks, and masks were recommended onboard the ship (about 15% did). Masks were mandatory on the tenders.

Here are some pictures from the cruise ship:

The Destinations & Activities

Visiting Tahiti and the Society Islands is a bucket list trip for many Americans. The beauty, the colors, and the friendly Polynesian people beckon you.

The crystal blue waters and majestic wildlife are the key attractions to see here. We went on a glass-bottom boat, a whale watching tour, and a day beach tour. A catamaran sail we ordered was canceled due to weather.

The beach tours go to a local hotel, where a towel and lounge chair are waiting – along with lunch! The whale watching tour brought us to a location near Mo’orea, where the humpback whales keep their young protected until they grow. We were able to view whales, dolphins, reef sharks, and stingrays. We rode in small boats and were able to view the wildlife while snorkeling. 

Other tours included 4WD, cultural and conservation tours, jet skis, zipline, e-bikes, helicopter tours, and an aqua safari, where you travel underwater with your head in an air enclosed helmet!

There are many tours for certified divers, including refresh training for guests who are certified but have not dived in a few years. There were also beginning courses for divers who are strong swimmers, and dives for very advanced divers.

Here are some pictures of the destination. Although it rained heavily one day, many of the days were cloudy, so pictures reflect that. This was during the dry season, which lasts May to October, with temps averaging 71 to 80 degrees F.

Want more travel inspiration? Check out blogs from Riverdale Travel consultant, Kay George – she’s recently been to New Orleans and a wellness retreat in Arizona.

If you’re ready to put actual plans into action, get in touch with one of our experienced travel consultants today!

Work With a Travel Expert to Design Your Next Adventure

Riverdale Travel takes the stress out of vacation planning. Partner with a travel consultant who specializes in your destination, and we’ll personalize every detail to match your preferences and budget! Contact us online or call our Twin Cities location today at 763-323-3665.

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