Small luxury ship Le Paul Gauguin in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Photo / Supplied.

Set Sail Through French Polynesia On A Luxury Small-Ship Cruise

Le Paul Gauguin has undergone an elegant refurbishment in time for your dream holiday

Imagine relaxing on your own private beach on Motu Mahana, an idyllic desert island in Tahiti’s Taha’a lagoon, with dazzling turquoise waters and fine white sand. After spending a leisurely morning snorkelling and paddle-boarding you’ve built up an appetite, so you lie beneath the palm trees as chefs cook a gourmet barbecue of freshly caught mahi-mahi right on the beach. As the sun wanes it’s time to retire to your luxury accommodation, whose hosts will not only indulge your every whim but transport you to some of the world’s most beautiful islands, lagoons and coral reefs…

It may sound like a dream but it’s an enticing reality, as luxury small ship Le Paul Gauguin prepares to set sail in 2022 and 2023. The South Pacific operator undertook an extensive refurbishment earlier this year and is now inviting guests to join its exclusive voyages that host just 332 guests at a time. The small-ship cruises explore Tahiti and the Society Islands — including the aforementioned private island — as well as the Tuamotus, the Marquesas, and neighbouring Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji.

That it ventures to some of the world’s most beautiful locations and caters to a small number of guests, makes it an exciting (and cost-effective) alternative to the overwater bungalow experience so many couples seek out in French Polynesia. You’re looking at about just over NZD $4,000 per person for a seven-night voyage, all-inclusive of activities and meals.

Enjoy time at leisure and immerse yourself in the lifestyle of warm climate. Photo / Supplied.

“It’s designed to inspire a feeling of complete relaxation,” says Paul Gauguin Cruises business development executive Bianca Bratton. “Paul Gauguin Cruises has operated as a single-destination specialist in French Polynesia longer than any other cruise line. Since the refurbishment we’ve elevated the onboard experience and amenities to meet that luxury level.”

Travellers who appreciate sumptuous interior design will love the elegant renovation at the hands of one of France’s most renowned architects and interior designers, Jean Philippe Nuel, who has worked on several high-end hotels, private residences and vessels, has enhanced Le Paul Gauguin’s elegant design with a chic new style that reflects the captivating beauty of the South Pacific. As well as renovating each of the ship’s spacious staterooms, he has added his trademark sense of understated glamour to its suites and common areas, introducing tranquil greens and natural tones throughout.


Room with a view: enjoy your own private balcony whilst staying on board newly-refurbished Le Paul Gauguin. Photo / Supplied.

Meanwhile, the ship’s shallow draught, and its elimination of heavy fuels (using the cleaner alternative, low-sulphur marine-gas oil fuel), means it’s capable of accessing the islands and lagoons quickly, easily and sustainably.

With seven, 10, 11 and 14-night cruises to choose from, spacious rooms — all of which have ocean views — and few fellow passengers, you’re guaranteed an intimate getaway tailored to your desires.

For honeymooners, that means romance aplenty. Fancy a helicopter or seaplane ride to take in Tahiti’s stunning atolls and reefs from above? Or an intimate meal of French-inspired cuisine at La Veranda restaurant? Newlyweds can also take part in a special celebratory wedding package, including a traditional Polynesian blessing in which couples will be enveloped in a Tifaifai, part of an ancestral marriage ritual.

A variety of activities await: 4WD excursion anyone? Photo / Supplied.

Guests have screeds to explore on land too, from the secluded Tahitian island of Huahine, where you can take in the local village on foot, wander through the lush rainforests or float in crystal-clear lagoons. Or captivating Bora Bora, with its white sandy beaches (including another private beach) and lagoons thronging with colourful fish, the ultimate spot to relax, swim or snorkel. Thrill-seekers will love Fakarava, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and reserve, home to grey sharks and untouched coral reefs, making it the ideal spot for snorkelling and (for an extra charge) scuba diving — novices even have the option to get their certification while on holiday. There are plenty of ways to explore by land too, from 4X4 excursions, quad bikes and electric bikes to guided treks, visiting the volcanic terrain of Bora Bora or seeing the mysterious petroglyphs of the Marquesas Islands.

Be welcome to your private beach on Motu Mahana by your Tahitian hosts, The Gauguins and the Gauguines. Photo / Supplied.

While luxurious indulgence and relaxation are all part of the package, (and who doesn’t love a massage or beauty treatment to help you drift into holiday bliss), cultural immersion is equally important on the ship as it is on shore. The ship’s Polynesian hosts, Les Gauguins and Les Gauguines, share their knowledge, traditions, traditional dance performances, language, and arts and crafts with all those on board.

Otherwise, when you’re not busy indulging in water activities or out on a catamaran to witness the jewel-like colours of the South Pacific in movie-star style, you’ll be able to take in the many cultural experiences on offer, from archeological sites to temples, black pearl farms, and vanilla and fruit plantations. Or you could simply relax and enjoy the five-star amenities on board, from the pool and spa to the delicious Tahitian and Polynesian menu by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Pierre Vigato.

Book a Paul Gauguin luxury small-ship cruise for 2022 or 2023, with itineraries including 10-night Society Islands and Tuamotus; seven-night Tahiti and the Society Islands; 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands voyages and 11-night Fiji, Tonga, Cook and Society Islands. For more information, contact your travel agent or Paul Gauguin Cruises on 0800 854 777, email Paulgauguin.aus@ponant.com or visit Au.ponant.com/paul-gauguin

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