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Paul Gauguin Cruises review
Sail in casual luxury around South Pacific Islands and beyond.
These all-inclusive cruises will take you to dreamy locations straight from your warmest tropical fantasies. But the focus is on the destinations, rather than swanky staterooms or flashy onboard amenities.
If you like the idea of relaxing with a cocktail in hand while learning about local traditions and ancestral tales through dance — among the long days at the beach and on the ocean with water sports — then these cruises might be worth it.
But if you’re hoping for white-glove butler service or a quick-and-easy weekend getaway, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
Paul Gauguin cruises are joyous voyages around picturesque islands — a quintessential tropical getaway in a casual luxury environment. On board entertainment includes live musicians, experts, historians and whimsical talent like illusionists and comedians. Dine on French food with a Polynesian twist, and get to know locals — onboard through the Tahitian staff, and while mingling at port.
Many itineraries also include a day at Motu Mahana, its own private cove off the coast Taha’a. Relax on the beach with a BBQ and open bar — all complimentary, of course.
If you’re a fan of the big cruise ship experience, and prioritize perks like all-day buffets and brand-new staterooms, you may be disappointed with Paul Gauguin, which emphasizes the destinations and overall regional experience rather than the boat’s nuances. But if you’ve been dying to see places like Tahiti, Tonga, Bali, Fiji and other bucket list islands, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you may discover total nirvana.
Paul Gauguin was a late 19th-century French artist. He’s most well-known for leaving his family and stockbroker job behind, abandoning the confines of western society to embrace what he perceived as the exotic appeal of French Polynesia. He lived and worked in Tahiti during the last decade of his life, painting the indigenous people and scenery in vibrant color and post-Impressionistic form.
Paul Gauguin Cruises is named after him — perhaps because his legacy epitomizes the idea of escapism, and his work captures the beauty of Tahiti in captivating idealism.
Paul Gauguin cruise ships
Paul Gauguin has one ship, called the MS Paul Gauguin. It holds a maximum of 332 guests, with a 1:1.5 crew-to-guest ratio, including local Tahitians that lend insight into the islands along the way.
The cabins on the MS Paul Gauguin all have ocean views, and 70% have balconies. There’s a choice of three dining venues on board, and a small library open 24 hours a day. It has a fitness center and spa, but there’s also a pool on deck and plenty of kayaks, paddle boards and diving equipment to get your heart pumping on the ocean.
In November 2019, Paul Gauguin commissioned two new luxury cruise ships, which are set to sail their maiden voyages in 2022. Each ship will hold up to 230 passengers.
Where do Paul Gauguin cruises depart from?
Paul Gauguin doesn’t offer any cruises that depart from the US, but most of its itineraries include round-trip flights from Los Angeles. Here’s where you’ll board the boat:
Paul Gauguin cruises destinations
Paul Gauguin cruises around islands in the South Pacific, Indian Ocean and beyond. Here’s where you can go:
The Society Islands
It also sails to smaller ports in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and more.
What’s included in my Paul Gauguin cruise?
When you cruise with Paul Gauguin, your fare covers pretty much everything. Here’s what’s included:
Wine, beer and spirits
Soda, specialty coffee and tea
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks
All onboard entertainment
Water sports like kayaking and paddle boarding
Transfers to and from the port
24/7 room service
Airfare to and from Los Angeles — unless otherwise stated
You will have to pay extra for guided shore excursions, like ATV tours and safaris, but there’s a selection of complimentary activities you can do on your own. Or, you know, you could simply relax on the beach.
Wi-Fi is free in Owner and Grand suites, otherwise you’ll have to pay for it.
Why you should (or shouldn’t) cruise with Paul Gauguin
Still deciding if Paul Gauguin cruises are worth it? Weigh the pros and cons:
Authentic insight into island life, and lots of opportunity to interact with locals
Programming for kids and teens
Docks at smaller ports that large cruise lines miss
Known for top-notch customer service
Excellent selection of water sports
No US departure ports
Pricier up front than midtier cruise lines
The experience isn’t great for folks with disabilities
Less flexible dining times may be inconvenient for some
The MS Paul Gauguin can feel outdated if you’re used to new and frequently refurbished ships
Frequently asked questions
Yes. Paul Gauguin partners with a sea turtle conservation nonprofit called Te Mana o te Moana to offer the Moana Explorer program for youth age 7 to 15. Each day, your kids can participate in excursions, activities, games and more led by an expert naturalist.
The Moana Explorer program doesn’t cost extra — it’s included with your fare — but it’s only available during select summer sailings and over the holiday. Many families also report that the emphasis on water sports and overall insight into local traditions provides a wonderful family vacation. Though the program is free, you’ll pay the full ticket fare price for kids.
During the day, you can dress as you please aboard Paul Gauguin cruise ships — though expect passengers to dress in country club-casual attire.
The evening dress code is “elegant, yet casual” according to Paul Gauguin’s website. It asks that guests refrain from wearing shorts and T-shirts in favor of slacks, collared shirts, blouses, and sundresses or pant suits for women.
It takes about 8.5 hours to get from La La Land to Tahiti.
Latest Paul Gauguin cruise deals
Paul Gauguin Cruises from $385/night: Fiji, Tahiti, French Polynesia, Cook Islands and more
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