Two of the world’s most seductive travel experiences—small-ship cruising and the islands of the South Pacific— come together in one memorable package aboard this just-renovated ship named for the French painter eternally associated with the beauty of Tahiti. At just 19,200 tons, 332-passenger m/s Paul Gauguin not only has an intimate, couple-centric ambience but also the ability to slip into and out of the shallow lagoons of the region’s most iconic islands, from Bora Bora and Moorea in French Polynesia to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. For honeymooners, this means unpacking just once and yet getting to sample the unforgettable scenery of 5 to 10 islands (with overnights on Bora Bora, allowing two days to soak in its unparalleled beauty) over the course of 7 to 14 days.
Photo Credit: Paul Gauguin Cruises
The m/s Paul Gauguin features 116 staterooms, 70 percent with balconies and all transformed by a $7 million facelift in January 2012. The new decor, in shades of ecru, warm brown and pale blue, is lighter and sleeker than before, making even the 239-square-foot balcony staterooms seem roomier. Bonus: Most have full-size bathtubs. If you can splurge, the 358-square-foot veranda suites are notably roomier and also come with a butler. And with the spectacular
scenery in the South Seas, you’ll want to have a private balcony where you can enjoy sunset cocktails. Adding to the ship’s romantic allure are its renowned service (the staff to guest ratio is 1 to 1.5) and culinary offerings that mix French and Polynesian infl uences. You can dine on garlic-andbutter- coated escargot one night and local grouper in a fl avorful orange sauce the next, accompanied by complimentary fine wines and spirits in your choice of three restaurants. The Deep Nature Spa offers massage lessons for couples. Off the ship, enjoy a motu (small islet) picnic (don’t miss the ceviche-like local favorite, poisson cru) and Polynesian entertainment, or an overwater massage with hypnotic monoi oil, a blend of coconut oil and fragrant tiare blossoms. There’s also a water-sports marina at the ship’s aft offering kayaks or windsurfing boards, as well as PADI scuba certification. When the sun sets, you’ll be enthralled by the Gauguines, a troupe of Polynesian performers, and by cruise’s end, you’ll be shaking your hips like a true Tahitian.
Top Itinerary: m/s Paul Gauguin sails the South Pacific year-round on 7- to 14-night voyages throughout French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and more. A great romance-meets-adventure journey is the 10-night cruise across the Society Islands and Tuamotus. You can swim with stingrays and sharks on Bora Bora, parasail above a shimmering lagoon on Moorea, or drift dive Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass with its adrenaline-spiking currents. Slow the pace down a bit with a visit to a pearl farm (Tahitian black pearls make beautiful souvenirs) on Taha’a and stroll along the pristine beaches of Fakarava (cabin rates start at $4,297 per person, per 7-night cruise and include roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles through December 2012; pgcruises.com)
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