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gymswim

Just back from the Paul Gauguin 6/24/04

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We had one of the greatest cruise experiences of our lives on the Paul Gauguin. Better overall than Silverseas, Seabourn or Windstar. We still have a special fondness for all our many Windstar experiences, but the Paul Gauguin really provides a higher degree of luxury and service (albeit more expensive too). The Gauguin was only sixty percent full and we were totally spoiled by the staff. The other cruisers were younger and more active than on previous RSSC cruises which made ship board life on this cruise more exciting, and running into many friends repeatedly signed up on the same excursions.

Larry successfully completed the onboard scuba certification program during the week. He received outstanding personalized instruction by Dominique Tehei, one of the three dive masters on board. With me already being a certified diver, the marina staff went the "extra mile" to make it possible for us to dive together whenever possible. During the best of the seven dives we made was a mile long drift dive off Moorea near the Shark Gallery. We saw a number of healthy lemon sharks, many black tip, an exceptionally friendly, gregarious hawk beak sea turtle named Jeannine that took a special fancy to Larry. Like cats who take delight in rubbing themselves against people who are allergic to them, Jeannine followed within 2 feet of Larry for 20 minutes. Larry has a phobia of reptiles so this provided many great Kodak moments.

Another dive highlight for me was diving with 15-20 Mantas (some with 15 ft wing spans) off Anau on Bora Bora. That dive had to be arranged privately a day in advance through the ship's excursion desk. My advise would be to use your own gear for the dive with the private operator since the gear provided lacked basic safety features like a compass and a depth gauge.

The highlight of the shore excursions for both of us was the combination drift snorkel and around the island speed boat tour off Raiatea with a local guide.

Another highlight excursion was the circumnavigating Bora Bora on wave runners. We were so busy diving and adhering to a strictly enforced THREE HOUR FEEDING schedule aboard ship, there wasn't enough time for us to sample every tour.

We tried to do the helicopter tour on Bora Bora the one day we weren't diving but we got locked out of the tour.

The food aboard the ship was very good, not great overall. We enjoyed the lunches and breakfasts most in Le Verandah on deck 6. The few times we picked an entree other than the one recommended that evening by our waiter, we regretted our decision and reordered. One lunch we made the mistake of ordering a "veggie burger" which was served barely cooked. We simply choose another entree and enjoyed some of the many salads as well.

Our cabin was lovely, everything arranged to perfection by our two cabin attendants, Michael and Kristin. The only recommendation we could offer RSSC ship designers is to provide a night table next to the bed. The ledge provided on each side of the bed is not a flat surface and is also only about 5 inches wide. It makes for an interesting balancing act when attempting to place a glass down, or a book, and forget trying to place your book AND a pair of glasses and glass on the perch at one time! But I am quibbling.

We only wish The Gauguin had a sister ship stationed nearer to the USA...and traveled to other warm water ports. The staff and crew of, coupled with the scale and quality of the Paul Gauguin makes this ship truly worthy of all the praise and superlatives it has earned.

Bill

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Thank you so much for posting your review of your June sailing on the PG. We we be aboard in 8 weeks! We do not scuba, but have been avid snorkelers for over 30 years so I am especially interested in your drift snorkel (and boat ride) at Raiatea. You mentioned it was with a private guide. Did you arrange this yourself on Raiatea? Please tell me the information I would need to find the same shore excursion.

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We used the tour arranged through the Paul Gauguin. The local operator has a high speed boat that accomodates up to 20 guests. It was spectacular and his knowledge about the island's geology and it's people made the trip extra special. You circumnaviagate the island on his speed boat and snorkel in two different spots.

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Bill - My partner and I are going on a B2B on the PG in May and also plan to complete our scuba cert. on board. But we had planned to do the classwork and pool work here and just do the cert. dives on board. (Puget Sound is way too cold and dark to do our cert. dives here.) That way, we don't have to waste good cruising time studying. Did Larry do any of the work in advance or do the whole course on board? Did the ship have to have a certain number of people signed up for cert. classes in order to give the course? Did you wear lightweight wetsuits or lycra suits when you were diving. (It's hard to tell from the photo.) Any other scuba cert. tips would be greatly appreciated. You can send them to me at my email address: steffanf@camano.net. We're happy to read that you liked the PG. It will be our first time on board that ship, although we have been on Voyager a couple of times and will be on Mariner through the Panama Canal just after New Year's on the way from Ft. Lauderdale to Lima. Any other FOD's on board the PG? The Rssc ships are a bit small to try to organize FOD parties; so we did not try to do so on Voyager. Cheers, Fred

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Thanks for wetting my appetite! I'm in the middle of planning a back to back on the PG, my first time on Radisson and I can't wait. I've done Seabourn and I'm looking forward to a bigger ship with similar service.

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You and your partner are in for a great adventure. I think you two would be wise to complete the course work prior to the cruise if you have time. To answer your question, Larry bought the PADI certification materials at a local dive shop in San Francisco several months before we went to Tahiti. He read all the materials and then simply did the pool work on board. It is definitely the way to go, although you'll still have to spend some classroom time with the instructor taking the tests each night. But it's not that difficult to manage and you'll still have time to fraternize with other passengers. The diving activities are pretty all consuming, but what better place in the world could you go to be consumed with diviing!

Even though I was certified years ago, I found taking the tests for fun were useful. The instructor Larry had was outstanding. He is a local Tahitian by the name of Dominick. One of the best instructors I've ever met during my 15 years of diving around the world. Radisson is really fortunate to have him aboard ship. I hope he's still doing it when you guys are aboard.

Be sure to let RSSC know in advance of your sailing that you are taking the cruise because you want to get certified.

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Bill-

 

Thank you so much for your informative and hilarious review. Brad and I rolled on the floor laughing over the story and pictures of the sea turtle. I hope both parties have recovered now that they are separted by an ocean.:D Your review makes me all the more anxious to visit this part of the world and maybe cruise on the PG.

 

Beth

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We're not divers but I certainly agree that Dominick is a gem. I introduced myself to him at Motu Mahana (Radisson's private beach on Tahaa) and told him that my husband taught me to snorkel in the Caribbean in 1971. Dominick laughed and said "that was 2 years before I was a baby"! I felt like his non-Tahitian mom for the rest of our trip since our children are 3 and 5 years older than Dominick. I understand that he is wonderful with new divers. One fellow passenger was telling us how patient and reassuring he was with her helping her to understand everything and really caring that she would have a safe and good experience.

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We are just back from the Paul Gauguin 9/18/04 cruise, and yes, Dominique is still there. Camile (Normand's brother - the activities director) led our small group for all of the dives that we did from the ship, but Dominique was usually with the group in the water just behind us, and I believe that he was teaching all of the classes and newbies. We enjoyed diving with Camile, but I would have also liked to have had the opportunity to do some dives with Dominique, he was fun. Prior to the cruise we did three dives with Marie-Claude at Aquatica in Tahiti, as she was on vacation for a couple of weeks from her role as Divemaster on the PG , and she was also great (as was Aquatica!, and our personal divemaster there - Rafael).

 

We had brought all of our own gear, and the dive staff on the PG spoil you rotten - they let us keep everything at the marina, would have all of our gear set up and loaded onto the zodiacs ready to go before each dive, and they rinsed and hung everything afterwards (BCs, wetsuits, regs, etc.) - fabulous!

 

Cheers,

Ken

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Freddie, I am old fashioned I guess,but I am trying to figure out what a FOD party is. Can you answer for me? Thanks, Rlf

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We are considering the PG for our first ever cruise next May. We are trying to decide to stay in a balcony cabin or not. One of the deciding factors would be the cost of the diving on board. We usually bring our own equip (BC & regs); it sounds like that would not be a problem here. So, how much should we expect to pay for the diving? Are there any packages?

 

By the way, this is a great site. I just found it yesterday and have been searching through all the informative threads. Looks like a great community.

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Rocky, to answer your question, FOD stands for Friends of Dorthy. It is a term that is used in the gay community to sigify a gay person. On very large ships it is often difficult for either gay singles or couples to meet people of the same sexual orientation...so a party is scheduled. This is no different from the traveling solo parties, the Friends of Bill W etc....

On mass market ships, gay travelers can sometimes meet with less than pleasant reactions from fellow passengers....so meeting others for drinks and shore excursions can really add to a trip....but on Radisson ships I have not experienced this. The crew and fellow guests are all wonderful and it is why I am so happy with Radisson. The PG was interesting for me in September because there were so many newlyweds on board.....as a single gay traveler it put me in a very interesting position...yet I met so many great people and had a fabulous time. The crew members that were gay really made me feel welcome and I cannot say enough about the overall service.

I still have the glow from the Sept 11th sailing of the PG...and can't wait till the Diamond next year.

Happy sailings.

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Thanks for wetting my appetite! I'm in the middle of planning a back to back on the PG, my first time on Radisson and I can't wait. I've done Seabourn and I'm looking forward to a bigger ship with similar service.

 

Planning, planning, planning! Reminds me of an old cliche, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." :(

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