June 28, 2022
Moana Explorer Program Invites Kids to Fall in Love with the Ocean and Its Environment
When Disney’s Moana hit the big screen a few years ago—opening to a $600 million global weekend box office—the young (and young at heart!) across the world fell in love with its adventurous heroine and the cultures, traditions, beauty and wonder of French Polynesia.
This enchantment with Polynesian culture is something we’ve long known at Paul Gauguin Cruises, the leader in all-inclusive luxury voyages in Tahiti, French Polynesia, Bora Bora, and beyond. And like the Disney character, our dedicated kids and family program is named for the Tahitian word for ocean, the Moana Explorer Program.
Youngsters ages 7-15 are invited aboard for select summer and holiday cruises to participate in naturalist-led Moana Explorer Program activities that go beyond the typical “camp-like” structure of other cruise lines. Experiences such as visiting a sea turtle care center, playing real-life beach "Survivor," hiking volcanic mountains, and snorkeling in pristine reefs encourage younger guests and their families to engage in hands-on learning – about the islands, the ocean, and Tahiti’s unique culture – that doesn’t feel like “learning” at all.
The word moana means ocean, and the Moana Explorer Program was created in partnership with the South Pacific Marine Education and Conservation Foundation Te mana o te moana, which focuses on protecting the Polynesian marine environment, specifically sea turtles.
While the activities vary by length of itinerary, always included is meeting the turtles at Te mana o te moana's Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center on the enchanting island of Moorea. Parents are welcome to come along to see the rescued green, hawksbill, Olive Ridley, and loggerhead turtles, many of whom arrived injured. The center's goal is releasing the turtles back into the wild.
A fan-favorite activity is family-friendly "Survivor, Tahitian-style" held on a beach in Bora Bora where youngsters learn about team building as well as Tahitian culture. Some highlights include building a shelter made from natural materials found on the beach, eating fruit while blindfolded, and picking up some traditional Tahitian wrestling techniques.
Another beach day allows kids to bond through team spirit – participating in crab races, rope pulling, and group snorkeling adventures (a swim test is required). On Paul Gauguin Cruises’ private patch of tropical beach paradise, Motu Mahana, youngsters may participate in a reef quest to observe underwater life and see how many species of coral they can identify and record in an underwater field journal.
Daily activities often include sessions on specific topics, such as plastic pollution and its effect on marine life, saving coral reefs, or insight into sharks and stingrays. There are video game presentations, games, and discussion around each subject. Before their voyage is complete, kids will learn skills such as making shrimp using palm leaves and how to use binoculars, which are provided for exploring island geology and spotting wildlife.
On our longer Society Islands & Tuamotus itineraries kids will visit a local village and learn about the dolphins in the famed Tiputa Pass of Rangiroa. A Cook Islands & Society Islands journey affords the opportunity for kids to learn about giant clams at the Ministry of Marine Reserve on the island of Aitutaki, and to mingle with local youth on a visit to a public beach on Rarotonga.
Welcoming just 330 guests in spacious comfort and carefree elegance, the m/s Paul Gauguin works well for families. A variety of dining choices allows for flexible mealtimes, while family-friendly accommodations include Owner's, Grand and Veranda suites that sleep up to four guests. The Moana Explorer Program is complimentary (with the exception of a few optional excursions) with an excellent team of naturalists leading as many as six activities each day.
The Moana Explorer Program is available in on select family sailings such as the seven-night Tahiti & the Society Islands sailings in summer. These cruises visit the lush rainforests, white sand beaches and clear lagoons of the Society Islands including dreamy Bora Bora (with an overnight). The youth program is also available on deeper-exploration itineraries such as 10- and 11-night Society Islands & Tuamotus sailings; and 11-night Cook Islands & Society Islands voyages.