Five Things to Know About Paul Gauguin Cruises' Paul Gauguin Cruise Ship
World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #1 Mid-Size Ocean Ship
Best for: Active adults looking for a trip focused on food, culture, and watersports
Sails: Asia, the South Pacific
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing first in the Mid-Size Ocean Ship category. With its own private island, troupe of Tahitian performers, and onboard marina, this 332-passenger ship may be one of the best ways to island hop through the South Pacific.
The Vibe Is Polynesian
Built for the South Pacific, this ship strives to give passengers a sense of place. Tahitian performers, known as Les Gauguins and Les Gaugines, dance in Le Grand Salon, and local groups come onboard to sing and dance throughout the voyage. Biologists and archeologists are on hand for lectures. You’ll even find artwork by Paul Gauguin himself.
Your Room Has a View
No interior staterooms here: All of the blue-and-earth-toned cabins have ocean views, and almost 70 percent have balconies. And they’re spacious, too. Sizes range from 200 square feet for a Porthole or Window Stateroom to 534 square feet for the largest Owner’s Suite. Verandah Staterooms and above come with butler service; feel free to ask to have your outfit pressed for your first dinner onboard.
There’s a Marina
Love watersports? The Paul Gauguin has a retractable marina on the stern of the ship, so instead of taking a tender to shore, you can go windsurfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, or diving right from the ship. You can even get PADI-certified onboard with a professional dive master.
The Restaurants Impress
On this all-inclusive, food-focused ship, the three restaurants are all covered by your fare. (Select wines and spirits are also complimentary, but excursions cost extra.) There’s the main dining room, where dishes like beef Wellington and mahi mahi come paired with complimentary wines. And there are two specialty restaurants, both of which require a reservation. For French fare like foie gras to tenderloin of beef, book a table at La Veranda, helmed by Michelin-starred Parisian chef Jean-Pierre Vigato. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround the space and tables spill out onto the deck, so time your reservation so you can watch the sun go down, if you can. Or go for something more casual at al fresco Le Grill, by the pool. During your overnight in Bora Bora, try to book the marina dinner: a private multicourse meal from La Veranda served on the marina with the silhouette of Bora Bora as your backdrop.
The Private Island Stuns
The Gauguin spends most of its time in French Polynesia, where one of its ports of call is Motu Mahana, the line’s private isle off of Taha’a, where passengers are greeted with Tahitian singers and dancers. Book a massage in an overwater cabana, take a basket-weaving class, or just spend all your time in that otherworldly turquoise water: There’s a floating bar so you can order your cocktails without leaving the lagoon.