This luxurious, all-inclusive ship named for the French artist who captured 19th-century Tahiti on canvas is based year-round in the romantic South Pacific. The service is very personal, with a crew member for every one and a half passengers and butler service in higher-category staterooms and suites. Paul Gauguin accommodates no more than 332 passengers. All of the cabins have views of the turquoise waters, and 89 staterooms have private outdoor space.
What We Love
The Cuisine: The menus, inspired by Michelin-starred French chef Jean-Pierre Vigato, are delightful in the main restaurant and the bistro, but the al fresco Le Grill is a must for grilled local fish and prawns.
Retractable Marina: Guests who want to get in the water can leave right from the ship to kayak, windsurf, paddleboard, or take PADI scuba lessons.
Best Known For
Motu Mahana: Guests can play pampered castaway on the ship’s jewel of a private island, with snorkeling, kayaking, and a beach barbecue on the powdery white sand.
Local Immersion: Les Gauguines, the Tahitian hostesses, teach cruisers how to do traditional dances, play the ukulele, or tie a pareo. They will also preside over a Polynesian blessing ceremony for couples celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary.
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Who It's Best For
Couples: The South Pacific is made for romance, so it’s no wonder that the ship’s passengers tend to be wealthy couples, honeymooners, and those celebrating milestone anniversaries.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Family Time: The ship welcomes children during the summer and holidays with the wonderful Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program developed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famed ocean explorer. If you don’t want to sail with excited youngsters, avoid the ship when school is out.
Long Haul: It’s an eight-hour flight to Papeete, Tahiti, from Los Angeles (and obviously a lot longer if you are coming from the East Coast). Consider adding on a night or two in an overwater bungalow so you can rest and adjust to the time change before boarding the ship.
Theresa Norton Masek is a Chicago-based contributor to ShermansCruise and a longtime cruise writer.
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Paul Gauguin at a Glance
- Line: Paul Gauguin Cruises
- Number of Passengers: 332
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 1998
- Refurbish Date: 2012