John Kruger sailed on a recent 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands voyage and shares his impressions traveling solo aboard The Gauguin.
A crew-to-guest ratio of 1:1.5 aboard the luxury m/s Paul Gauguin assures cruisers that they will be well looked after—and I certainly was made to feel as though this was my ship, completely at my command.
The staterooms are comfortable, spacious, and extremely well-appointed. And the complimentary in-stateroom minibar is replenished daily with sodas, water, and beer.
The retail outlets on board are stocked with high-end merchandise, without the eye-watering price tags, and staffed by knowledgeable, non-pushy salespersons.
There are three restaurants on board. La Veranda offers breakfast and lunch; Le Grill has breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea; and L’Etoile is open for dinner only. Breakfasts are much lighter than the usual offerings of larger cruise ships. Lunches generally have a tropical theme to them; but it is at night when the meals really shine. L’Etoile is the main dining venue, and reservations are mandatory for The Gauguin’s La Veranda and Le Grill. Each restaurant has its own kitchen and there is no “cross-pollination” of flavors to spoil the enjoyment of each of the unique cuisines on offer.
Solo cruisers can choose to dine by themselves, or may elect to join other cruisers, for dining company. Either way, the very professional wait-staff give you their personal attention, and very soon remember your favorite pre-dinner tipple, often placing it in front of you without your bidding.
Dress requirements are “smart casual” with collared shirts a “must” for evening dining, especially in L’Etoile, a South Pacific iteration of the popular Michelin-starred Parisian diner.
Then, of course, there are the fabulous sights, when one does eventually venture off this “floating resort.”
Motu Mahana, is Paul Gauguin Cruises’ own private island, and while it is exclusive, it is very well-equipped with complimentary water sports, and a host of other amenities.
I must confess, I lost my heart on the beautiful island of Moorea. The locals are friendly, the greenery is lush, and the beaches are covered in squeaky, white sand. But what really excited me was the glass-bottom boat excursion to the inner reef surrounding the atoll, where I watched lagoon rays and lemon sharks.
The pristine lagoon waters were a bonus when we hovered over a series of bomboras, viewing their beautifully colored coral growths, with hues ranging from light mauve to deep blue, depending on the water depth and reflected sunlight from the white-sand floor. Multi-colored also describes the myriad fish darting in and around the anemones, waving in the “winds” of the tidal movement.
During select sailings special guests, lecturers, and entertainers join the ship. Having recently won the prestigious “Cabaret Performer of the Year” award in New York City, special guest Minda Larsen brought her prodigious talent to Tahiti, aboard the The Gauguin during my sailing. Our personal songbird in the South Pacific, with impressive vocal range and dexterity, this lady is extraordinary, with her renditions of jazz, blues, and torch songs, transporting one on a musical journey not soon to be forgotten.
But, when Minda launches into grand opera, everything goes up a notch. Even opera non-aficionados like me sat spellbound, rapt in the magnificence of her vocal gymnastics. All too soon, her one-hour set was over. This reviewer attended all three of her on-board performances, the last being a more relaxed and informal gathering in the ship’s La Palette cocktail lounge, where she also proved to be a dab hand on guitar and sang us “Stars,” one of her own compositions. The song is neither downbeat nor melancholy, but rather full of hope, looking to a brighter future—one which she has now attained. My shipmates and I were indeed fortunate to find ourselves in the orbit of this supremely talented virtuoso, and I, for one, will be forever grateful for the experience.
Ahhh, to be there again. The majestic wonder of it all continues to linger! I had a great time on board The Gauguin and would love to do it again sometime.