- 16 Really Good (and New) Reasons to Visit Europe
- The New New Orleans
- Sharper Image
- Drawing Cards
- Santa Fe's Surge
- More News for Those on the Go
- Rising 'hood
- Two for One
- Tony Tents
- Sailing Tahiti's Dreamy Blue Waters
- What's New on the Paul Gauguin
- 3 Atolls to Discover
What's New on the Paul Gauguin
Five reasons a luxury cruise aboard the newly renovated Paul Gauguin might be for you
1. You will think you're on a new ship. Earlier this year, the Pacific Beachcomber company completed a major renovation of its Paul Gauguin, the South Pacific's longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship. A $7 million makeover has given the 332-passenger vessel a more contemporary vibe.
The ship hasn't gotten this kind of refresher since first hitting the water in 1998. The brighter, fresher colors and patterns of the new carpeting, fabrics, and furniture in the common areas give each deck a distinctive personality. Suites and staterooms have been dressed up with padded headboards, teak balcony railings, and rich wood panels. Plus, the two main dining rooms - La Veranda and L'Etoile - now have redesigned entrances, and the more casual Le Grill has a new easy-to-maneuver buffet area. For after-dining entertainment, you'll find an expanded casino; a refurbished dance floor in Le Grand Salon, the theater showroom; and an updated lighting system and new outdoor furniture at La Palette, the after-hours club and bar.
2. You'll see the islands you want to see. While the ship's "Tahiti & the Society Islands" cruise stops at five islands (Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, Taha'a, and Tahiti), other itineraries explore the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Marquesas Islands, Tonga, Tuamotus, and other South Pacific destinations. The relaxed schedules with overnight stays worked in for bigger islands like Bora Bora and Moorea give you plenty of time for shopping and trying out local restaurants and nightspots. Don't miss the touristy but hard-to-resist Bloody Mary's, a restaurant/bar on Bora Bora where you decide the menu from the day's fresh catches and mai tais run strong.
3. You'll learn something new. Think education, and visions of schoolbooks and pop quizzes come to mind. But the Gauguin's syllabus is chock-full of entertaining ways to learn about French Polynesia's culture and natural wonders, if you so choose. Pick up key Tahitian phrases or learn how to tie your pareo with the help of Les Gauguines, the ship's hostesses. Lecturers such as Polynesian anthropology expert Mark Eddowes unveil the islands' secrets and lore during daily sessions. For Eddowes' "Trails of the Ancients" hiking excursion on Moorea, he eschews sugarcoated docent-speak to unfurl an irreverent, poignant, and fascinating portrait of the islands' people and customs. For 2013, oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau brings his famed family's legacy aboard, guest-hosting four Gauguin sailings.
4. You can choose your own adventure. The Gauguin's adventure-heavy excursion menu features such "when in Tahiti" choices as an underwater walk (just you, a helmet, and an air hose) and a ride on an underwater scooter. If those prospects leave you gasping for air, then take a leisurely glass-bottom boat ride for a look at the colorful coral and abundant sea life. Snorkeling is the most popular activity among Gauguin cruisers, and you can check out complimentary gear while onboard. Or hop on regularly scheduled tenders and explore the islands on your own.
5. No need to pack that sport coat. While dressy evenings are a staple of cruise ships scouring other parts of the globe, the Gauguin forgoes formalities - though no shorts, jeans, or flip-flops during dinner - for a more casual flair. It's a welcome respite in French Polynesia, where temperatures average about 79 degrees.