This completes our series on the Paul Gauguin cruise of French Polynesia. The cruise is called Tahiti & the Society Islands and fittingly, we spent our last day in Tahiti.
Disembarkation was as easy as embarkation was a week before. We had to leave our room by 9:30 and off the ship at 10 am. At 9:50 (as instructed) we walked off the ship – no lines, no announcements, no scrambling or waiting for elevators. Upon reaching the dock we were able to locate our luggage within seconds and a few minutes later found our transfer. This was one of the easiest disembarkations we’ve been on.
The transfer (booked ahead of time) took us to our destination for the day – the Intercontinental Hotel Tahiti. It was only a 10 minute ride. We had booked a day room at the resort. Why? Well, we had to be off the ship by 10 am but our flight out of Tahiti didn’t leave till midnight. That’s just the way the flights work between Tahiti and LA. So what do you do with yourself for the next 12 plus hours? A common solution is the day room where you have complete use of a room, including a place to change, shower and clean up.
Our transfer to the airport picked us up at 9:40 pm and we were at the airport in a few minutes. Unfortunately the check in line was long. Worse, the security line was longer. They simply were not letting anyone through security until previous planes left the terminal. I think they just don’t have enough space.
The airport is essentially outside so it was warm and muggy. We were happy we wore very light clothing and sandals. We brought real shoes and jackets on with us for the flight and landing in LAX.
One more thought. If you purchase something substantial like pearls, you need to mail in a form at the airport. The form allows the retailer to avoid paying a VAT (tax) to the government. Failure to do this means that you as the consumer are liable for the tax. Note that you should do this before you enter security. Don’t forget – it’s easy but needs to be done prior to security.
Tahiti for the day
Amazingly, the room was ready for us when we arrived at the Intercontinental Tahiti. That was great! We changed into our bathing suits and headed for a walk around the property. This is another very nice beach front resort, though much larger than the Moorea property. There were plenty of over water bungalows but many more standard hotel rooms. Ours was a standard room and it was perfect. It overlooked the beach and was very nicely appointed.
One of the pools was under construction – it was the sand bottom pool – because of recent storm damage. Too bad because their main pool, while huge, is very odd. There’s an extremely large area of ankle deep water and then a steep ramp leads to a 7 ft deep section. The pool was actually a little cool the day we were there. Worse there were very little lounge chairs to use. For the size pool and the size resort this was very disappointing. We ended up on a grassy area – which was fine. We asked the pool attendant for towels and cushion foam to put on our bare chairs. Both came promptly and all was well.
The resort has a Lagoonarium – basically a man made lagoon where fish live but are fully enclosed for viewing pleasure. Snorkeling is allowed in part of the lagoonarium. We walked around the resort admiring it’s landscaping, watching the wind surfers go by.
Specifics at the Intercontinental Tahiti
We ate two meals at the main restaurant and both were really good. The first was the lunch buffet. It was a little pricey (but so is all the food on the islands) but we had a selection of both salads and proteins. We had a light, late dinner where the service was sporadic. At times very attentive – at other times very very slow. No issues since we were just killing time till we leave for the airport.
In the evening we showered and changed and then repacked so the checked luggage had the appropriate weight. We always bring a portable luggage scale to make sure our checked bags were appropriate. Some airlines, and Air Tahiti Nui is one, also check your carry on’s for weight. It was so nice having a room for the day. A place to keep our luggage, seek refuge in the air conditioning and a place to clean up and organize. We say “au revior” to Tahiti.
The three days of pre-cruise in Moorea was perfect. It allowed us to acclimate to the time zone and catch up on sleep before getting to the cruise ship. Plus staying in the Moorea Intercontinental Hotel was a pleasure. Everyone should experience an over water bungalow (and be able to swim and snorkel right off its deck) at least once in their life. Once the cruise starts we quickly see that the Paul Gauguin is truly a luxury cruise. The level of service is outstanding, the food excellent and the experience is seamless. We learned about Polynesian culture, had an iconic day on the beach on a motu surrounded by a beautiful blue lagoon. We had great snorkeling experiences seeing all manner of coral and fish but also rays and sharks. Thrilling! And we did a little classic sightseeing by car and ended with a day at the hotel pool. Here’s a summary of each of our days:
- Three days in Moorea pre-cruise. Click on each to read Post 1, Post 2 and Post 3. Can it really get any better than this? You bet!
- Boarded the Paul Gauguin in Tahiti. A discussion of the Paul Gauguin cruise line as a luxury product is here
- Read about our day touring Huahine here. This was our day to learn about Polynesian culture
- Our day on the private island is discussed here. This was a classic beach day.
- The two days in Bora Bora are posted here and here. These were heavy snorkel days seeing sharks, sting rays and manta rays.
- The two days in Moorea are here and here. We rented a car to sightseeing one day and did a pool day the other.
What words come to mind when I think back on our cruise? Luxury, blue seas, sharks, reef fish, friendly trustworthy and hip moving Polynesians, and lots of new friends. This was an easy, laid back cruise vacation with lots of water activities. The cruise is a luxury experience but it’s a destination focused cruise. It’s easy to see why so many people over the past few centuries view French Polynesia as paradise. And everyone should be so lucky to go to paradise at least once in their lives. And it’s easy to see why Paul Gauguin continues to be so successful; Paul Gauguin cruise is a great way to experience French Polynesia.
Below is a visual final impression: infinity pools, flowers, fish and more fish, over water bungalow, the Paul Gauguin, service and luxury, sharks, snorkeling and great food.
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