Windstar vs Paul Gauguin

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Windstar Cruises
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#1
144 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
For those of you that have sailed on both cruise lines what do you think is the major difference?
Not talking about sailing vessel vs cruise ship but other differences.
Which do you think is better?
#2
237 Posts
Joined Nov 2002
I will let you know when we get back in August. We were on the PG about six years ago and we are sailing on Windstar in August. PG was very good! Two years ago we sailed Windstar Athens to Istanbul, our favorite cruise! Food and service was excellent! We no longer cruise RCI, Princess or any other large ship after about 40 cruises.

Second seating
#3
California
105 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Two less obvious differences I can think of right off the bat: (1) The Wind Spirit can drop anchor in the middle of a lagoon instead of having to dock at each island. That gives you a more secluded experience and some lovely views while anchored. (2) Paul Gauguin has a group of Polynesian dancers that go on the cruise with you and welcome you to the different islands. The Windstar cruise doesn't have that, but they hire good local dancers and performers at the Bora Bora evening destination event and dancers also typically come on board and perform when the ship is docked at Raiatea (the only port other than Tahiti where the ship docks instead of dropping anchor). And of course you probably already know this, but the Wind Spirit takes a maximum of 144 passengers, so the experience is more intimate but maybe less exciting if you like a lot of buzz and entertainment on your cruise ship. I'm not a fan of show tunes, so that made the Windstar cruise more appealing to me.
#4
PA
90 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
I went through the same process in planning my trip for next year. After a fair amount of research, I decided on the Wind Spirit. They both seemed like very similar excellent choices, so it came down to what appealed to me and the schedule. I decided that a ship with half the passenger capacity was better than one that has more entertainment and shows. Also, in going through tons of photos, the sailing yacht look of the Wind Spirit caught my eye. The PG looks very nice but more like a mini-cruise ship. And since I found a cruise that left on my wife's 60th birthday and was in Bora Bora for our 35th anniversary, it made my choice easy. I'm sure you can't go wrong with either cruise. After all, you'll been in French Polynesia. I think just the views alone will make the trip special.
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Howell

Wind Spirit 7/2018
Wind Surf 5/2016
American Queen 7/2013
Carnival Freedom 3/2012
Carnival Pride 2/2010
Monarch of the Seas 9/2005
Serenade of the Seas 6/2005
Carnival Conquest 7/2003
Disney Wonder 6/2001
NCL Starward 4/1993
#5
14,693 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
This has been discussed many times on this board and the PG board. If you search, you can pull the threads up.

I have sailed both lines in FP. IMO, the entertainment on PG was not good. The ship is too big. The food is good. Service was not good for me. The fanatics on the PG board are a bit unbalanced, and that alone would steer me away.

I would choose the Wind Spirit.
#6
We live in St. helena, in the Napa Valley, just north of San Francisco
713 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Howellmc: We did exhaustive research before booking our first Windstar cruise to Tahiti next July 2018. We will also be celebrating our 35th anniversary and my 65th birthday. Though we haven't sailed yet a read so many posts about both ships and decided on Windstar of all the reasons posters have mentioned. I know we will love the ship and the cruise and have no regrets. I figure the PG can wait until we are less active and want a more traditional cruise experience. We both just love the look of the Wind Spirit and having owned and sailed our own sailboat in the past we are looking forward to any time they are able to use the sails.
Patrinka: You cannot go wrong wit either but we lean towards recommending the Wind Spirit.
#7
1,149 Posts
Joined Aug 2015
Originally posted by vlaurend
Two less obvious differences I can think of right off the bat: (1) The Wind Spirit can drop anchor in the middle of a lagoon instead of having to dock at each island. That gives you a more secluded experience and some lovely views while anchored. (2) Paul Gauguin has a group of Polynesian dancers that go on the cruise with you and welcome you to the different islands. The Windstar cruise doesn't have that, but they hire good local dancers and performers at the Bora Bora evening destination event and dancers also typically come on board and perform when the ship is docked at Raiatea (the only port other than Tahiti where the ship docks instead of dropping anchor). And of course you probably already know this, but the Wind Spirit takes a maximum of 144 passengers, so the experience is more intimate but maybe less exciting if you like a lot of buzz and entertainment on your cruise ship. I'm not a fan of show tunes, so that made the Windstar cruise more appealing to me.
The PG anchors in Huahine, Tahaa, Moorea and Bora Bora in the Society Island group as well as many of the atolls and other places in the South Pacific

Factually the Wind Spirit has a draft of 14 feet, the Paul Gauguin 17 feet. For all practical purposes both can enter and exit same lagoons in French Polynesia.

I'm sure both cruise lines offer a great experience, you can't go wrong with either, heck your in paradise, enjoy it!
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Past Trips to the French Polynesia/South Pacific:
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 (2), 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

Upcoming Trips to the South Pacific:
July 26, 2017 on the Paul Gauguin

Likes: Traveling to the South Pacific on the Paul Gauguin and taking beautiful pictures.
#8
California
105 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Originally posted by Tahitianbigkahuna
The PG anchors in Huahine, Tahaa, Moorea and Bora Bora in the Society Island group as well as many of the atolls and other places in the South Pacific

Factually the Wind Spirit has a draft of 14 feet, the Paul Gauguin 17 feet. For all practical purposes both can enter and exit same lagoons in French Polynesia.

I'm sure both cruise lines offer a great experience, you can't go wrong with either, heck your in paradise, enjoy it!
Thanks for pointing that out! Looks like I was misinformed.

I actually just remembered another difference between Windstar and Paul Gauguin in FP: Alcoholic drinks are included in the PG price but not in the Windstar price. Assuming 3 drinks per person per day, we would save money buying our drinks on the Wind Spirit. If you expect to drink 5 drinks a day, then PG would probably be a better deal.
#9
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,305 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
We were very disappointed with the PG. Service was generally poor. Food was OK at best. We heard "no" to the simplest requests. I could go on and on, but suffice to say if I won a PG cruise I wouldn't take it. It's simply not worth the vacation time.
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Past Cruises...
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.
My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.
#10
Quebec
973 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
We never did Paul Gaugin but feel the Wind Spirit lack the Polynesian touch a bit. While we were not on-board during the few activities with polynesian dancers, weaver, etc, there was hardly any Polynesian music on-board. I don't mind classic but sitting on the back deck with classical music in Bora Bora was kind of turn-off. No local music CD for sale ( but there was a Turkish and Spanish music CD for sale !!!!) and no Vangelis 1492 to be seen. Most food and supplies are done with a Netherlands supplier (for all ship) if I remember correctly. But those are just annoyance and my own taste, having spent 10 days before cruise in Tahiti and Moorea. This place in the middle of nowhere has so much to offer. BTW, the diner on the motu in Bora Bora and lunch at Tahaa' where very well done.

And if you win a PG cruise, please let us know, we'll take the time LOL

Cheers,
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SeaEscape-Scandinavian Dawn - March 1990
Windstar-Wind Surf -December 2012
Windstar-Wind Surf - December 2013
Celebrity-Constellation - March 2014
Windstar-Wind Star - December 2014
Celebrity-Constellation - March 2015
Celebrity-Summit - January 2016
Celebrity-Constellation - August 2016
Windstar-Wind Spirit - July 2017
Celebrity-Silhouette - February 2018
#11
10 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
One thing to keep in mind is that the Paul Gauguin was specifically designed for sailing the waters of French Polynesia, hence the very shallow draft and Polynesian feel around the ship. I've done the PG 6 times and have been on all of Windstar's ships too. PG has more of a luxury feel (and is technically considered a luxury operator with drinks and gratuities included), but also feels like a mini cruise ship. Windstar is more intimate. I really, really like the fact that you can swim off the marina on the Windstar, but you are not allowed to swim on the marina on the PG (only kayak, windsurf, etc).
#13
224 Posts
Joined May 2011
We (wife & I) sailed PG in 2012. It may have changed since then, but it was luxury to us at that time. We have also sailed Silversea (3 times), Crystal (twice) and Regent. The PG is more casual, but for that part of the world it should be. The service and food were excellent on our trip. It is a small ship, so it has its limitations, but we are definitely glad we sailed her.

We will be on the WS Surf in December for our first WS cruise.
#14
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,305 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by 6rugrats
I'm going to have to disagree. PG has no "luxury feel" to me. It's simply not a luxury ship. It has a very "mass market" feel.
I'm in 100% agreement to this statement.
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Past Cruises...
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.
My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.
#16
Southlake, Texas
1,162 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Imcpa - please return here to share your Windstar experience, particularly in terms of the luxury cruise lines you have sailed.

We are long time Windstar enthusiasts, considering other lines. Thank you in advance.
#17
224 Posts
Joined May 2011
Imcpa - please return here to share your Windstar experience, particularly in terms of the luxury cruise lines you have sailed.
Will do.
We are very excited about our first WS cruise, on the Surf. But I must admit, I am a little curious aboutpotential movement of the ship in the seas, the lack of a balcony, seeing waterhigher than my “window” (portholes) and the small stateroom. We plan to purchase the beverage package tomake it similar to SS, etc. We are veryexcited about actually sailing, the personal service, the marina (we loved thaton PG) and dining as much as possible outside for dinner.
#18
Orleans MA
657 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Hi, I always follow CC with food and "luxury". Both of which are very subjective. We are 20 timers with WS and our definition of luxury is perhsps a bit different: this is what we find luxurious.
1. The sails: does she sail without motors all the time no but the sails are generally always up. We love this and when she sails without motors people are so respectful they whisper. We love hearing the 1492 as the sails are unfurled. For us luxury because of the beauty of it all.
2. We think the cabin is luxury, beautifully designed, lots of place for the few things we travel with. Wind Surf is a sail boat, no balconies but huge amounts of outside deck space in sun and shade. We love being at water's edge in the cabin and the gentle rocking, we never sleep better, subjective. We love the Veranda eating breakfast and lunch outside. We love getting great coffee at 6:30 am sitting there staring out over the water. Total luxury.
3. Service friendly, timely, simply great. Is it men in tuxes wading in the water with champagne no, we do not think of that as luxuary but ridiculous. Lovely, friendly people doing their very best that is luxury.
4. WS tries very hard not to say ". not possible " but if the ship is full it is harder to have Candles more than once but they will do everything they can to make it happen.
5. Food subjective: Michelin 1,2,3, no but varied, fresh, healthy, well presented, delicious yes. I know a lot about food and I am proud to say a great cook and an adventurous eater I think the food is great. Seriously, it is all personal opinions.
6. Love the small ports using WS as a vacation or a trip. Love the swim platform, love the fact that WS is extremely safety conscious so yes sometimes the swim platform is closed, I have been to the Caribbean when it never opened and it was all about safety! I have spent my life on the water so I find safety luxurious.
So, I really hope you you have a great cruise. Happy Sailing.
#19
California
105 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Originally posted by Strenz
Hi, I always follow CC with food and "luxury". Both of which are very subjective. We are 20 timers with WS and our definition of luxury is perhsps a bit different: this is what we find luxurious.
1. The sails: does she sail without motors all the time no but the sails are generally always up. We love this and when she sails without motors people are so respectful they whisper. We love hearing the 1492 as the sails are unfurled. For us luxury because of the beauty of it all.
2. We think the cabin is luxury, beautifully designed, lots of place for the few things we travel with. Wind Surf is a sail boat, no balconies but huge amounts of outside deck space in sun and shade. We love being at water's edge in the cabin and the gentle rocking, we never sleep better, subjective. We love the Veranda eating breakfast and lunch outside. We love getting great coffee at 6:30 am sitting there staring out over the water. Total luxury.
3. Service friendly, timely, simply great. Is it men in tuxes wading in the water with champagne no, we do not think of that as luxuary but ridiculous. Lovely, friendly people doing their very best that is luxury.
4. WS tries very hard not to say ". not possible " but if the ship is full it is harder to have Candles more than once but they will do everything they can to make it happen.
5. Food subjective: Michelin 1,2,3, no but varied, fresh, healthy, well presented, delicious yes. I know a lot about food and I am proud to say a great cook and an adventurous eater I think the food is great. Seriously, it is all personal opinions.
6. Love the small ports using WS as a vacation or a trip. Love the swim platform, love the fact that WS is extremely safety conscious so yes sometimes the swim platform is closed, I have been to the Caribbean when it never opened and it was all about safety! I have spent my life on the water so I find safety luxurious.
So, I really hope you you have a great cruise. Happy Sailing.
Strenz - How many times have you done the WS cruise in Tahiti, and how recently? Would love to pick your brain for recommendations and advice!
#20
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,305 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by imcpa
Will do.
We are very excited about our first WS cruise, on the Surf. But I must admit, I am a little curious aboutpotential movement of the ship in the seas, the lack of a balcony, seeing waterhigher than my “window” (portholes) and the small stateroom. We plan to purchase the beverage package tomake it similar to SS, etc. We are veryexcited about actually sailing, the personal service, the marina (we loved thaton PG) and dining as much as possible outside for dinner.
We had many of the same apprehensions, and in the end our fears were unfounded. Because the ship is more like a yacht, you'll find you don't want to be in your cabin. There are plenty of quiet places on deck to relax without loud music or hordes of people. I don't think we ever had water up to or over our porthole (A level cabin). The stateroom isn't huge, but it's well laid out and appointed and we never felt cramped or like we were missing anything. We felt cramped in the PG stateroom that was actually slightly larger.

The only time in two weeks we felt the ship move other than the normal very gentle movement felt on any ship of any size was crossing from the Ionian to the Adriatic where it narrows between Italy and Albania, which began in the later evening as we were getting ready for bed. Once laying down it didn't bother us, and the waters were smooth when we woke up. On the PG the last night going back to Tahiti it was some of the roughest waters I've ever sailed through and well over half the ship (and a lot of crew) were in their cabins seasick.
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Past Cruises...
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.
My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.