- Vicki Scheck
Cruising French Polynesia on the Paul Gauguin
The last three blog posts about the Four Seasons Bora Bora, Bora Bora by Catamaran, and Tahiti’s InterContinental Resort all happened because of a Paul Gauguin cruise. This post will cover the cruise itself. This trip was my introduction to French Polynesia and its incredible beauty.
On our 11-day cruise, there were two mornings when we awoke to the view of this necklace of islets, six of which can be seen in the photo below. The first time I saw this was when I knew I had underestimated the beauty of French Polynesia—and was very glad we had a veranda cabin!
These are not bad views to wake up to! Here are some closer shots.
The Paul Gauguin specializes in French Polynesia and its culture. It hosts only 332 passengers.
The ship has a slightly vintage, but elegant, look. The food and drink were exceptional, starting with a bottle of chilled sparkling wine in our cabin to welcome us.
We enjoyed an al fresco lunch at La Veranda restaurant, serving Jean-Pierre Vigato’s gourmet cuisine.
An appropriately-colored drink on deck to celebrate the approaching sunset.
At dusk the pool deck becomes an outdoor dining venue at Le Grill, one of the ship’s evening specialty restaurants.
An apple tart was one of the dessert choices one night at dinner. And there was always another special treat après dessert.
Our first stop was Huahine. We hopped on local transportation around the island (a unique experience for us). My travelling companion Karen really looks the part, drinking coconut water from the shell at the local yacht club. (One might apply a loose interpretation to the term ‘yacht club.’)
One of the most fun experiences was Paul Gauguin’s private island off the coast of Taha’a (Motu Mahana), where we again drank out of coconut shells, but this time they contained a much enhanced addition to nature’s original provision.
However, if someone couldn’t wait to get to the libations on the island, the floating bar was available on disembarking at the shuttle’s water landing. (One of the passengers joked that we would all need to check into Betty Ford after the cruise!)
The water here was so warm and buoyant. It was a wonderful place for beginner or intermediate snorkelers, with plenty of coral and brightly-colored fish in relatively shallow water.
There was also a private beach on a motu in Bora Bora.
Bora Bora is really gorgeous. (See also the posts on the Four Seasons and a catamaran sailing in Bora Bora.)
The shuttle made continuous loops between the ship and the island. Some were still coming, but for us, it was time to get back to the ship.
The ride was another opportunity to glide over this crystal-clear water.
They say to see Bora Bora for the water, and Moorea for the land. Here we are anchored in the latter.
This is a field of sugar cane.
While on a tour stop in Moorea, a car pulled up and a family got out to hang their freshly caught fish on a rack by the side of the road. I’m not sure if the color originated with the fish, or if it was because they’d been wrapped in the newspaper's comics.
On the shuttle, returning from an excursion, to our ship.
At times during the cruise, we’d see happy locals catching a wave behind the shuttle.
Both sea and sky continually captured our interest. Even in the open seas, every once in a while we came to an area of white caps. This one makes a serpentine line in the deep.
Sometimes the white caps made sort of a semi-circle above coral reefs.
The sunsets at sea could be stunning.
A blurry picture of Karen and me on our final night at sea.
We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Paul Gauguin Cruises for those who enjoy exceptional tropical beauty, Polynesian culture, water sports (there's a PADI SCUBA diving program and a watersports marina for kayaking, windsurfing and paddleboarding) and, as mentioned, gourmet cuisine.
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