By Carl Henderson
Amid a global pandemic, it sure gives you time to reflect on past travels and all the great things in life we cannot do quite as easily or at all right now. As a passionate traveller, I must admit, I feel so incredibly lucky that I spent most of the month of November in Moorea and Bora Bora and realize I am one of the few fortunate ones to have done so. Sadly, I could not experience the m/s Paul Gauguin this time around, but on the beaches and overwater bungalows I had a lot of time to reflect on past trips to my favourite place in the world.
I have been to the Islands of Tahiti 14 times now and the more I go, the more it compels me to go back again. Like most people, I got lured there the first time due to the sheer beauty of the islands and lagoons. However, it is the combination of that natural beauty along with warmth of the culture and local Polynesians that really gets into your blood and drives you to return again and again.
Tahiti is my career choice. To specialize sharing these incredible islands, especially by way of The Gauguin, is my favorite offering. This award-winning luxury cruise line highlights the culture better than any other cruise option – but if you are reading this blog post, there is a good chance you know that already. But as experienced as I already was with The Gauguin, I learned something new on my last trip on board: how very special it is to share the experience with a group of family and friends.
When I travel to Tahiti, it is largely for work or as a work/vacation combo with my partner. A few years back I got to thinking about sharing this special place with others and blocked a group space aboard The Gauguin. I told my clients what I'd done and posted the opportunity online and what happened next shocked me: everyone who responded that they wanted to join the group was either related to me or a member of my friend circle. And though I knew all of them, they mostly did not know each other. There were 14 of us, most who I never would have imagined wanting to go to Tahiti, and we had a magical time! By the end of the trip, despite coming from different backgrounds and age groups, we were all fast friends in one common experience: the beauty and culture of this exotic destination.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined we would have as much fun as we did. We spent time together exploring on private tours and bumped into one another on Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private beaches. We took thousands of photos, shared endless laughter and toasted one another over all-inclusive cocktails served up by the ship’s friendly staff.
In reflection, I wondered what it was about this group that worked so well? Why was it such a memorable time for everyone?
There is, of course, the obvious – we were in paradise together! But from a cruise perspective, I have a short list here of why I think Paul Gauguin Cruises is what made it the perfect option for exploring Tahiti with our small group.
- All Inclusive Nature – People on different budgets or stages in life are all equal once you are on board; it’s all included and prepaid – even gratuities. There was no time or energy spent worrying about whose turn it was to buy a round.
- Small Ship – Now, more than ever, small ships are in high demand. But they’ve always worked well with groups. You leave your cabin to head up on deck and easily bump into someone you know. With only 332 guests on board we quickly got to know not only our own group, but also the staff and other guests.
- Social Element – There were only 14 of us in our small group but everyone met other passengers and our social network grew – as did the fun and laughter.
- Dining – On board dining was easy to arrange and once again, all-inclusive, so there were no worries about varying budgets amongst members of the group. We just picked our restaurant, decided who was dining together that night and enjoyed each other’s company as well as the delicious cuisine.
- Night Life – French Polynesia is a destination that is quiet in the evenings. Resorts typically do not tend to have much night life and entertainment. But the m/s Paul Gauguin is different – so when you are in a group like this the options for a bit of evening entertainment were welcomed and enjoyed.
Of course, when you combine the above elements with all the other great features of The Gauguin (warm, friendly service; gourmet dining; on board spa; watersports marina—to name a few) and then add in a fun group of travellers … and in the best setting in the world — how can you not have the perfect small group trip?
As we move into 2021 and we see the light at the end of the tunnel, consider the special memories you’ve made in life with the people you care about. Perhaps it is time to take the plunge in organizing a group on board The Gauguin so that you can build your bank of incredible memories made with special people—all while cruising paradise. I can assure you, for our group of 14, they are memories we’ve reveled in during these challenging and sedentary times.