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The PG was not so fabulous


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We did the 11-night December 27 departure and I planned to write a review after returning. I shelved that for a while, but now the time has come. I will start by saying this was my fifth Regent cruise. So I know what a quality Regent cruise can be like. I also know that nothing is perfect and certainly there have been issues with other upscale cruise lines (Silversea for example) and hotels. But you really hear a lot of PG cheerleading here, so I am providing the “fair and balanced” side. LOL.

 

Booking: During the booking process, my travel agent (Amex Platinum) had to drag the Regent representative to their own website because the Regent rep said it was “impossible” that Regent was offering $599 r/t airfare for this “always sold-out” New Year’s cruise. Forced to recognize the airfare offer, it was booked but we had to pay an extra $100 each to be able to choose our flight! Onboard, I found out others even got a better deal on airfare through Regent. A couple of weeks before the cruise, I called Regent to ask about availability of upgraded cabins (B class instead of the C we booked) and was told by Regent that “the ship is completely sold out”. Interestingly, once on board, we were told by the crew that the ship was 85 to 90% full. Hmm. More interesting was the number of people we met on board who were Regent, Grand Circle, and Paul Gauguin Inc. employees and their friends/family, booking the cabins to fill the ship at fares often a quarter of what we paid.

 

Travel to Tahiti: As mentioned by others, the flight on Air Tahiti Nui was good and even in coach there are complimentary alcoholic beverages (although with off-brands) and two meal services. The planes are A380s and less than five years old. However, some entertainment consoles were not working. That’s a bad thing on a nearly nine-hour flight. Also, in terms of timetables, Air Tahiti offers a stunted flight schedule. Not sure why all the flights would not depart LAX in the morning or early afternoon so that arrival in Papeete was not so late in the evening. They only have an early afternoon departure a couple of times a week. Also, on the return we ran into a woman who stayed a post-cruise night at the Radisson because Air Tahiti had told her the 10 p.m. flight back to LA was sold out. In fact, from my seat on the return, I could count 15 empty seats. Not sure how that happens.

 

Regent transfers in the hotel package: As mentioned by others, the transfer process from airport to hotel (Radisson) left a LOT to be desired. Amex booked the hotel with transfers package and we were never asked about a direct versus indirect transfer. Regent does not have its own buses, so the local charter bus on which we were placed stopped many times before arriving at the hotel. Not expected on a cruise of this caliber. If you fly in First Class on some airlines, a limo (the real kind) picks you up. I’m just saying that this is a very high-end cruise, so… Anyway, suggest you fly on the day the 1 p.m. flight operates and cab it to your hotel or to the ship directly.

 

Radisson Hotel: Beautiful property with a breathtaking black sand beach. Not sure where others said the hotel looked run-down. Certainly there was some wear, but the rooms were very nice and the pool and beach great. But staying at the Radisson completely isolates you with its single restaurant being the only dining alternative nearby. The breakfast and lunch food was barely passable and the service is the worst and slowest I have ever experienced at a hotel. Pleasant people, but no idea what service means. They have a nice lounge upstairs at night, but it is overrun by younger locals, meaning hardly any tables available for hotel guests. I recommend drinks by the pool at night. I also recommend post-cruise stay versus pre-cruise

 

Transfers to the ship: Really weird. I am not sure why all these ships want to separate you from your luggage. I thought maybe they weighed them or something. But you are asked to have your bag packed and tagged at 9 a.m. for pickup. We complied only to find that they were kept all day long (without our having access to them) and then just piled up to be loaded on the van immediately prior to our departure for the ship (at about 2:30 p.m. on embarkation day). I’m not sure why we couldn’t have just kept our bags and taken them down with us. But at least this transfer was directly to the ship.

 

PG Check-in/embarkation: Off the bus and into the Grand Salon where they have laptops set up to take your photo and issue your stateroom cards. Champagne greeting. Very organized and very quick. I saw another poster asking about Regent embarkations being a snap. This one was, with us literally off the bus, getting our ID cards, and heading to our cabin in 10 minutes.. However, I would note that in my past Regent cruises, Amex Platinum customers have been granted special pre-boarding (noonish). Not the case here unless this was the pre-boarding with those also doing hotel packages.

 

Ship: For those people who said they never saw any indications of wear on the PG, well, you simply didn’t look around. Lots of stained carpets (albeit those perm stains that cleaning does not remove and those from water damage). Chips of paint missing everywhere. Our corian-esque sink in the stateroom had cracks in it (no, there is no marble in the stateroom baths as there are on other Regent ships). Paint chips missing in the ceiling. Not a huge deal, but lots of unrepaired wear nevertheless. On other Regent ships, we would always see a maintenance crew touching up paint on the decks and on the hull. We never saw that on the PG this time, maybe because of the upcoming dry-docking. And this was years of wear. The most disturbing thing was paying for a balcony room (7th floor) only to be met with that wet, musty smell every time you came into the corridors there. Twice on board, the toilets stopped working. Typically this is the result of some idiot passenger putting large odd items in and trying to flush it. However, when the whole system (at least on 7) is down for five hours and some guests have reported raw sewage backing up into their toilets with the accompanying smell on the entire (most pricey) floor, Regent should at least acknowledge and apologize for the problem. They did not. Also, the wireless network on the PG left a great deal to be desired. Service was spotty, frustrating, and often dropped. The best service could only be found consistently in the lounges (La Palette, for example) where there were routers. Had I been paying for internet service, I would have requested a refund of minutes.

 

Cabin service: We had pre-ordered our liquor for the in-suite bar based on advice from a number of people on this board. Regarding whether Grey Goose is premium or not, we were told by Regent that it was not. We had two liters waiting for us in our cabin and were not charged extra for it. In fact, on the bar menus only Ultimate is listed with the $9 surcharge. However, the mixers and condiments we requested were not delivered as ordered. In addition, our cabin attendant was very pleasant, but her work was very inconsistent. She would often clean and fail to replace beach towels or hand towels or washcloths. And most irritating: she would consistently decide that the diving equipment in their net bags, along with swimsuits (hung to dry) and water shoes, belonged on the balcony. That works fine except that we sail away overnight. That means the ship is moving and the balcony is windy and rocky. I could have lost hundreds of dollars in swimsuits, shoes, and snorkeling gear if I hadn’t realized her crazy pattern.

 

Restaurants: Regent advertises two restaurants, L’Etoile (main dining room – generally no reservations although they will do so for large parties if possible) and La Veranda (by reservation only). However, the pool restaurant, called Le Grill, is also available for reservation dining.

 

As others have reported, very sketchy dining in L’Etoile. One night it would be great, food and service-wise. The next, it was impossible. Le Veranda was pretty consistent, but to label it “French” was a great stretch. Very little French any thing served there. The only time they had seared fois gras was in L’Etoile. Go figure. Despite the fact that we were told over and over that this was a Polynesian immersion cruise, the only real Polynesian food (with the exception of the one night of a Polynesian theme) was served in Le Grill. It was very good there.

 

Food: For a six-star line, we found the food at breakfast and lunch to be very “Royal Caribbean”. I mean, nothing exceptional. No lump crab benedicts, ****ake omelets, or anything that would be remotely exotic or six-star. Even when there were themed lunch buffets, they were very odd. The Asian lunch buffet had some sushi-type rolls, mostly veggie and tuna, but no real sushi or sashimi and no other Asian dishes, including stir fries, or signature dishes. Instead the “stir-fry” was Italian/pasta. At a later lunch, there was yummy moonfish, but just passable tuna and no yellowtail or other sashimi. The dinner menus were more high-end. However, apparently the definition of “lobster” was lost on the Paul Gauguin. What was repeatedly described as lobster and served as such were langostinos. So if you expecting the Australian or Maine-type lobster (which I have had many times on Regent in Europe and elsewhere) or even the spiny type, forget it. In most cases the “lobster” was the size of a large shrimp and tasted very similar. And the only time I ordered a medium rare hamburger and actually got it was at the motu in Taha’a. I thought there would be a ton of exotic fish choices. There was not. Mahi mahi? I mean, you can get that at any chain restaurant anywhere in the US. Salmon? C’mon. Wahoo was served once and moonfish once. Tuna served more frequently, but that is still common. I did a lot of snorkeling and saw tons of fish, including sea bream, snapper, pompano, grouper, shark, and many more. But none appeared on the menus, ever. Wine choice with dinner were a little heavy on the chardonnay side, but they had a good sauvignon blanc as a fallback. Since none of the restaurants have a bar, ordering a cocktail instead of wine meant quite a wait since the server had to go to the nearest bar (which for Veranda meant upstairs or down) to get it. Ok, and why oh why wasn’t any of the chicken on the buffets just nice chicken breast? It was always some odd cut of dark meat with an occasionally bony piece of breast.

 

On previous Regent cruises, a channel on your in-suite television (which are nice 13 inch LCD monitors with built-in DVD players) gave you a run-down of the day’s activities and the various restaurant menus. On the PG, the menus are completely missing. In fact, often they aren’t posted outside the restaurants themselves until nearly noon. Very odd and really an indication of the disorganization in the restaurants.

 

On-board: One of the first things you heard (repeated many times) by the cruise director (a very nice lady named Claudia, who oddly does not speak French nor master English perfectly – she’s from Brazil – recall this is French Polynesia, exclusively) was that this was a “Polynesian immersion” cruise. Hmm…never saw anything like that on the website. When asked about guest singers, comedians, or other entertainers, she looked at you with disdain and said, “Oh no. The entertainment onboard here is strictly Polynesian-themed. There is no one like that. And American humor is lost of non-Americans.” Huh? I read the comment from another reviewer that seemed astonished that anyone would have expected shows or Broadway review type entertainment. Well why not? I have been on smaller ships (the Diamond, for example) and they have had those. I have to imagine the Paul Gauguin must be the most profitable of all the Regent ships. They only use their own staff to entertain (with one exception of some Bora Bora dance troupe). Claudia’s staff includes a group of five or six Polynesian girls called “Les Gauguines”. Oddly, this group provides most of the entertainment onboard, singing folksy Polynesian tunes and doing native dances and making shell jewelry. The craft thing is fun, but these girls as headline entertainers? I mean, really. Or you can listen to one of them describe their lives in the islands (maybe interesting once, but there were several of these). And when they weren’t entertaining you, then “your social hostess”, Heather, sang. Nice voice, but totally untrained. And clearly did not know her audience. Her reviews contained mostly newer singers that were often unknown to the older generation of which most passengers onboard were members. And then there is the inept Skyline band (repackaged as the Skyline Duo and the Skyline Trio several times). If you are going to rely on the much less expensive in-house entertainers, they really should be good. Even the DJ must have been a waiter, because his ability to mix dance tracks in the disco was abysmal. Lastly, the cruise director, Claudia, must never, ever be allowed to sing in public. Her “Bossa Nova” for New Year’s Eve was appalling. Hands-down, the best and most charismatic entertainer onboard is Bruce, who sings and plays piano at various venues, but mostly in the Piano Bar on Deck 5.

 

Daily communication, as on all Regent ships, is via the Passages newsletter. Lot’s of typos and misprints, including a couple of mislabeled lectures and movies and a “German buffet” that never happened (mind you, there was never a French buffet at lunch or a French dinner – in FRENCH Polynesia). One day, the Passages even said we were on our way to Taha’a when in fact we were at sea with the next stop being Bora Bora. They must have heard from a lot of people because the next day at sea the Passages tagline said “en Route to Bora Bora via Taha’a.” I mean, a clear CYA attempt. Regarding communication, also on previous cruises, a channel on the television (and there were many empty ones) was utilized to provide details of the next port, including excursions and things to see on your own. No such channel on the PG. Now if this is a specialized immersion cruise, why wouldn’t they have all those details for every port? And even the island-specific content provided daily in the Passages is plagiarized from Fodor’s. The tour staff (more on this below) doesn’t even take the time to build a nice curriculum of port details on their own! I mean, they travel to the same places over and over. C’mon.

 

What you know but don’t realize – the Itinerary: This cruise was the longer version of the 7-day Paul Gauguin cruise, meaning that it takes you to two islands in the Marquesas. Sounds very cool (Survivor and all that) and certainly you saw the itinerary when you booked the cruise. But to get WAY out there and back means several days at sea (i.e., no ports). During the days at sea, the cruise director and staff had arranged very little in terms of activities. Some were really odd, like a daily bouillon thing (yes, really). Some days there was a guest lecturer, others not. There was always a “popcorn movie”, but often poorly timed. For example, a shark documentary, featuring Rangiroa, was played two days after we left that island. An overall look at the South Pacific was played as we waited to DEPART the vessel and go home. I mean, simple planning. A fun game of trivia was timed to begin at 12 noon (lunch time!) and actually began 10 minutes early – Heather again). What could have been fun was something called the “Country Fair” which lasted for all of 45 minutes on the pool deck (after its being closed an hour plus for prep). Some people love the days at sea – I don’t relish them. But remember the per diem price for this cruise (non-discounted rack listing for a balcony cabin including taxes starting at $2,000 per couple per day). You really expect more. Rangiroa was nice, but we didn’t need to sit there two days. And although the Marquesas are nice, they have very little of interest to do and see. I mean, Paul Gauguin’s grave? C’mon. But you knew from the excursions listing that it was all about the water here. So… And the Marquesas are relatively pretty and it’s nice to really say you have been there, but Hawaii and its islands are much more lush and beautiful. And compared to Bora Bora or Moorea, well, there is no comparison. Much has been said about the great day at the motu (private island), Taha’a. It was nice, although if you are looking for live coral, well, good luck. But a nice day. Overall, the weather (given it was the rainy season) was really just great. That is really, really important on a cruise like this (or say, Alaska) where it is really about scenery and not culture or history. Anyway, basically great weather throughout the trip.

 

Tour desk/Excursions: As mentioned, you knew it was a water-oriented cruise based on the itinerary and excursion listing, so the best things to do relate to water. But the descriptions of the excursions (which they have been doing for 10 years) are not detailed and clear either online or in the descriptions available at the tour desk (operated by an often catty woman, humorously named Kitty….lol). However, the drift and other snorkeling is good, especially on Rangiroa. The Underwater Aqua Safari is a great adventure where you basically have this aqua helmet on and they take you down ten feet to walk around on a short leash (your air hose is about 25 feet long, meaning you can’t walk far since it took some of the length just to get you down). Your walk is about 30 minutes total, but it’s really enough. Avoid anything that says “jetboat” if you are truly expecting speed. During the sunset lagoon jetboat cruise, the “jet” factor was used only on the last 5 minutes returning to the marina. The rest of the two hours was at idle speed. If you don’t mind the low speed, then go for it. The “sunset cruise” aboard a yacht, Roa, was cancelled and apparently it nearly always is, as are the helicopter tours. Local operators in these islands are very difficult and will cancel in a second if their requirements are not met. So if you are going and expect to do either one of these excursions, then be prepared. Also, you should know that in the Marquesas we talked to several people who were LEFT behind by the locally operated tour buses. I understand that quality to control is touch in these small places, but really.

 

Another thing to know is that on Bora Bora: there is a motu. It is not mentioned anywhere in the Regent documentation, so if you are interested in simply going to the beach on Bora Bora, then go for it and they have separate tenders just for it. Not knowing this was available until the Passages came out the night before (we saw it after dinner at midnight), we mentioned it to Catty Kitty. She said, “Well, of course there is a motu. Didn’t you read your Passages?” To which we responded in the affirmative, but excursions must be cancelled by noon the day prior, so enjoying the motu would have meant forfeiting the money for the excursions. Kitty’s answer, “Well, didn’t you attend my Port Talks?”. No, Kitty. Your Port Talks (all two of them) were scheduled for 8 and 8:15 a.m.! I mean really, with breakfast ending at 9:30 and doing a bit of partying the night before (you ARE on vacation), who is there for port talks at 8 a.m.?!

 

Bars: There were four bars on the ship, although only three were ever open. Anyway, La Palette on Deck 8 is a great little bar that opens for tea and is the only air-conditioned bar with a view, albeit and aft view. It is also the bar where the disco is located. When you first embark, head there…it will be the only bar open (imagine wanting to get a drink for sail-away!) Alicia is there and she is the best bartender onboard. Great, creative, and really, really nice. Best service, period. The Piano Bar is just down from L’Etoile and Teresita is the star there. She is great too although that venue is not as nice and has no view but a lot of folky and imaginatively-priced Polynesian art. The Pool Deck bar is open at 10 a.m. and Rey and others are great there. But there is also a very nice outdoor bar on the upper deck (9) which never opened during the entire cruise. So odd, because it would have been ideal for sail-aways or port arrivals. Anyway, overall bar service beat restaurant service hands-down. I will say that if you are ever lucky enough to have Jorge as your server or cocktail waiter, hold on to him. He is also great

 

Disembarkation: Again, you are asked to have your bags packed and leave them outside your stateroom between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. the night before embarkation. People I talked to who stayed on the lower decks indicated that this meant noisy unloading of bags beginning about 4 a.m. If you don’t want to get rid of your bag, just keep it with you. We did, no problem. I mean, last time I checked they were OUR bags. When we left the ship (as part of the post cruise day-room use at the Radisson, you can stay onboard until 12:45 p.m.), we just handed them over to the luggage van drivers. The transfer to the hotel is (whew!) direct and upon arriving there check in was amazingly smooth, with their having already assigned us nice full rooms and allowing us to enjoy the pool/beach for the afternoon. Your luggage is unloaded and just sitting out there; we took ours back again and had it in our room the whole time even though you were “supposed” to leave it with them. For some odd reason, again, they wanted you to go back and “identify” your luggage at 5:15 for transfer to the airport. Then at 6:30 the buses arrive to take everyone to the airport. And this, my friends, is where your nightmare begins. You and about 150 other passengers are herded on buses, taken to the airport at the SAME TIME and dropped off to id your baggage in the sea of bags and line up for check in. This is where you really realize that Regent has dropped the six-star ball. The crowd is endless, the Papeete airport (like much of the city) is basically third-world, with no air conditioning except in a single independent VIP lounge, and by the time you get checked in and they play all those games with the weight and number of your bags, you are sweaty, poorer, and exhausted. Not a nice ending to a $20,000 cruise. My advice is to do one of two things: After arrival in Papeete (where you overnight the last night – boring but cheap for Regent), get off the ship and cab it to the airport or if you are staying at a resort in Tahiti or Bora Bora or Moorea post-cruise, head there. If you are leaving for home, book your flight for the night of arrival in Papeete and head to the airport in a cab (a short ride). Or, even if you are staying onboard and doing the day-room at the Radisson or Intercontinental, get your own cab directly to the airport just prior to the time the buses depart to the airport. You will save yourself a lot of trouble and time.

 

The Cruise Overall: We had a nice time on the cruise, but in retrospect, I’m certain I didn’t get my money’s worth. Maybe some of you TA’s or those that get hefty Friends and Family discounts did. I’d advise anyone who wants to take this cruise to get the best deal possible on the sailing. Take advantage of all discounts and make your travel agent work to find them. If you have been to the Big Island or Kauai, you may end up being disappointed in what is essentially a more remote Hawaii. I’d advise you to take the shorter, 7-night cruise, and save yourself some money and sea-days. But it is a long way to travel for a seven-night cruise. If you are going to simply say you have been there, got a great deal on the price, and have good weather, then you will likely enjoy it. Especially if you have never been on another Regent (Silversea, Seabourn) cruise and know what real service can be. The Paul Gauguin is not really up to the Regent standards (it has dropped down five spots in small-ship rankings in the last couple of years) as I have known then, but I am also hearing that the change in Regent ownership is changing those standards on other ships. Sigh… The US economy is troubled, which means that luxury travel here and elsewhere will suffer. In times like this, operators in the luxury field have to step up and do their best to win and retain customers, meaning quality of food, entertainment, and service cannot falter and should actually improve! Regent doesn’t seem to understand that. In a buyers market, which 2009 is sure to be, they will need to. I get the latest Regent offering, “unlimited free shore excursions” every few days in the mail. Not sure why they force you to book by March 31, but it’s sure to be extended. We’ll see how that works – certain to be a lot of fine print and a segregation of shore excursions and premium shore excursions.

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Thank you for the very well written review. I can only imagine how disappointing it is when you are sailing on a ship full of TA's, Employees and Freinds/Family passengers. As you know those rates are sometimes up to 90% off brochure rate. You obviously took a very long time to write such an extensive commentary!

 

Host Dan

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Some good tips in this post, thanks. Nothing is perfect, but knowing where the potholes are can make the ride a little better. We booked a long time ago as part of our 25th and while only a 7 day, from your comments we may be able to make it a great event.

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Thanks for posting your candid thoughts. A lot of people who have similar opinions are reluctant to post them for fear of being flamed by PG enthusiasts. So some commentary like yours circulates privately. Others just don't bother to post at all. I had a great time on the PG for 14 days in 2005 (2 btb 7 day itineraries). This was at the PG low point when GCT had purchased the ship and started making cuts. Nonetheless, I agree that the PG doesn't fit the Regent model and it is good she is soon to be out of the fleet. You mentioned the lunch buffet. The lunch "buffet" at the time was so mass market it was almost amusing. Food service on the cheap! I had read that the themed lunch buffets were marvelous. What a joke. Here is an example. Thursday was a Mexican theme. I was excited. I love Mexican. We entered the buffet promptly at noon and were greeted by a delightful server beaming with a broad smile wearing a huge sombrero and serving up tacos freshly made to your order. Delightful. Great start. I ordered my taco which was placed on a saucer-sized serving plate and continued on. Delightful. But then I discovered THAT was the only Mexican contribution to the highly touted Mexican buffet lunch. ONE TACO. Not a single other Mexican dish offered. None. No Mexican music. No Mexican decor. Nothing. Just the same same same buffet stuff you'd find on the cheapest cruise ship afloat. Now how much does it cost to prepare and serve great Mexican food? Yes, you could order another made-to-order taco but there was one taco maker for 320 passengers so there was aways a line and a second taco was not a good idea. Lots of people have reported that things have gotten better since then and I believe that. But to the level of "six star" luxury quality? I seriously doubt that given posts like yours. Thanks again for sharing an opinion that will be unpopular to some who read this message board. Pat

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While I am definitely not defending the PG, you did cruise prior to the refurbishment in January. Hopefully, the carpet as well as many other items are now "new".

 

We enjoyed the PG very much in 2004, but, would never compare it with other Regent ships. It is perfect for French Polynesia -- better than any other cruise line that sails in that area (IMO).

 

In terms of your experience with luggage, this is typical of Regent. They want to insure that your luggage is in your suite prior to embarkation whenever possible. While it is a bit of a hassle, we appreciate the fact that they take care of our luggage for us. Regent does not have you disembark until your luggage is there for you to collect.

 

While it may be a bit sad to see the PG revert back to the management of their owners, it may no longer be negatively compared with other Regent ships (a good thing):D

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I do love the Paul Gauguin and have been on her 3 times but agree with you on several issues. Let me also add that we chose the ship initially after price shopping for a land trip and we are not regular Regent cruisers.So we are two of those people you refer to who don't know how good Regent service can be We took about 4 cruises in the late 80s and early 90s on mass market lines, but really aren't interested in doing it again. THe appeal of the PG for us was the itinerary and I wasn't interested in getting on the Tahitian Princess. The PG comes out pretty good compared to land based trips there.

 

Agreed, Internet service was abysmal and we did have to pay for minutes. However, it came out of the OBC but it was really slow and when I commented on the card about it, and asked if there was a place on the ship that had good reception, I did get a follow up call (that's something, I guess) saying there was no better reception but not offering any compensatio.

 

Yes, the breakfast buffet was boring and lacked variety. However, I enjoyed the wide range of fresh fruit and it wasn't that big a deal as I'm not a big breakfast eater . My husband ordered from the server every morning and found that to his liking. I always found something interesting to eat at lunch, lots of delicious cheeses and bread (French polynesia, right:)), but I can see where it might disappoint cruisers with higher expectations.

 

Agreed, carpets are stained and ship is not flashy. Agreed, shows are not very good and we went to very few on the last 14 day cruise. But we don't care about that -again, we are not cruisers, and were up early, off in port or snorkeling or touring all day and then falling into bed at about 10.. What mattered to us was being in French Polynesia.

 

One reason we might have been happier with the cruise is we paid considerably less than you did for the cruise, by staying in non balcony cabins. As a matter of fact, we have had 24 days on the PG for what you paid for 11. Our thinking being that with a small ship, there was no need for a balcony. So that's different monetary choices that result in different levels of satisfaction, I guess.

 

I have to differ with your assessment of the islands as being just like the BIg Island in Hawaii- I loved cruising around Tahaa and entering the bay in Moorea was spectacular. Cruising back and forth to Rangiroa by all those motus? And who can't love the iconic look of Bora Bora? Totally unique. And the lack of development on some of the islands was refreshing.

 

I admitted above that I don't know how good Regent service can be, but we found most everyone (again, agree with you on Kitty - lucky you, getting on the Rangiroa drift snorkel cruise) helpful and eager to please. We did spend alot of time on deck, and like you, loved the bar staff. Service in the dining room was inexplicably slow a couple of nights, but it really wasn't a big deal. We thought there were very different levels of service on different sides of La Veranda in the morning, but chatting with some other passengers later in the cruise, they thought their side was better! So who knows.

 

Even though we do agree about many of the failings of the PG, I'm lucky enough to have happy memories of the trip rather than feeling I've been ripped off. I'm sorry you don't share that, and wish you better luck making your next choice!

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I have to admit I am one of the Cheerleaders.....

 

Because I love the essence of FP and its so intrinsically linked to the warmth of the PG staffers in my mind, I love the whole experience. Yes, the carpets have become a bit stained over the years and there lurks a musty smell on some floors but I tend to blur those out.

 

Its a pity you didnt know about the Bora Bora motu and its a pity that you didnt read cruise critic before as all of us cheerleaders have regularly extolled its virtues. In fact the last time we were on the PG we were on the Motu both morning and afternoon in order not to miss out even a moment in our spot.

 

I agree that the buffets could be improved somewhat but we didnt really go away hungry. We had great food and service in L'Etoile and La Veranda. The bar staff were always trying to please ,trying to coax me to have a drink even tempting me with Efren's Cosmos ( my favourite) though it meant them making a trip to another floor or two to get it.

 

I am looking forward to my 5th, and likely final, visit to the PG this November.

 

Miriam

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I too am an admitted cheerleader, with 42 days on board the Paul Gauguin. As with Cruising Librarian, for us it's the destination, although our first trip in 2000 set the standarda for other cruises. We too have managed all those days by booking a window cabin, although this last time we got a cheap upgrade to a balcony, and ended up in a verandah suite (divine, I must admit.)

 

Unfortunately for you, the carpets were replaced after your trip. Yes, it was very musty in the deck 7 corridors in December, so hopefully all that problem is gone with the old carpets.

 

I loved the breakfast buffet. A freshly-made omelet, lovely pancakes, smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers, or my husband's favourite corn beef hash. The only problem is so much choice, and all so yummy. Ditto the lunch buffets--the themed buffets were almost uniformly great. Food in l'Etoile was mostly pretty wonderful--a bit humdrum a couple of nights. Le Grill was great, much better than previous trips.

 

The staff were all amazing, as I remember from 2000. Just so enthusiastic and service-oriented. So, what can I say? To each his own. But mostly, I love the destination--if I could go back to FP once a year, I would, despite all the travel and the pain of the Papeete airport.

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CarynCruiser, thank you very much for your comprehensive and well-written review.

 

We've only been on PG for a brief visit while we were cruising on Mariner in FP.

Our reaction was PG is a pleasant little ship but no way comparable to other Regent ships.

 

One little pick: I doubt you were on an Airbus A380 - that's the relatively new jumbo jet - bigger than a 747- that only a few airports can handle. My guess is you were probably on an Airbus 330. No biggie, just trying to set the record straight. (Yes, I drive my poor wife crazy "setting the record straight." And yes, sometimes I'm wrong.)

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This was a great, factually-based, informative and entertaining review, exactly what CC needs more of. I haven't been on the PG and don't intend to (Hawaii is good enough for me) but in these difficult economic times I don't think anyone would want to pay $20K on a disappointing cruise. All the more reason for passengers to insist that luxury lines deliver their promised "6 Star" experiences.

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This was a great, factually-based, informative and entertaining review, exactly what CC needs more of. I haven't been on the PG and don't intend to (Hawaii is good enough for me) but in these difficult economic times I don't think anyone would want to pay $20K on a disappointing cruise. All the more reason for passengers to insist that luxury lines deliver their promised "6 Star" experiences.

The OP did say that the $2,000 per diem was non-discounted rack rate. Does any one ever pay that?

 

I'm doing the identical cruise in July and I'd probably feel miffed if the per diem were $2,000. At $4,095 pp for the category C, however the per diem (per "night"-em?) is $372, or $745 for the two of us. If we were to stay on land, a room at a nice resort would eat up at least half that, leaving us very little left for the overpriced FP food and drink. Where, based on recent reports, the hotel's breakfast buffet is reportedly $50 pp, club sandwich and frites $30, $15 drinks at the bars, and god only knows what a nice multicourse dinner with cocktails and wine would run, $745 is a bargain. What's a real bargain is the $2,795 quoted for the porthole cabins. That's only a per diem of $508 for two, or what we'd probably budget for food and drink alone. It's like getting a room for free.

 

It also seemed to me that many of the OP's complaints had nothing to do with Regent, but instead with the airline or the airport. I remember the airport departure mess so well from my last trip to Tahiti that I got us biz class on the way back, even though we're happy flying there in coach. But you can't blame Regent for the nasty airport or the nasty flight schedules. Doing our homework here, we know in advance what to expect and I'm pretty certain we'll be satisfied.

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You're right, Bearnaise, getting there and back is a pain, pure and simple. Most of my complaints from last December involved the logistics. We flew Business, and although very nice on the way over, it was not so great coming back, and our experience in Faa'a airport was horrible, as usual.

 

I just looked at my invoice from December. Before air, but after all discounts, our per diem was about $400 pp. You might get a nice resort hotel in the islands for $800 pp, but not with meals. And you're right about the food and drink prices, they are horrendous.

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Having been on the ship I will agree that the OP definitely has some valid points, but it seems to come from the "glass half empty" school.

 

Couldn't agree more about the breakfast, worst breakfast meats I've ever seen, but the carbs were delicious.

 

But the most important thing is that if Regent advertises the experience as luxury then that's what it should be, not dressed up Mass Market with alcohol & tips included.

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Everyone has a different experience with any cruise or land vacation. I always stay in top of the line hotels, so I am accustomed to the best out there. I always do my research prior to all my trips and never get any "unexpected" surprises.

 

I was on the PG almost two years ago. I flew first class on Air Tahiti Nui and was very pleased. We stayed at the Intercontinental, arranged our own transportation, knew about the motu's in advance, etc. I had such a good time.

 

When we went on the PG, the majority of the passengers were there due to an incentive program and being top producers in their field. Regent went out of it's way for those of us that fell into the 10% not included in that group. We still went out and boogied around the ship and it's ports.

 

Like you, I would have loved to have swapped many of the meals for something else. The fish lovers came out way better than those of us that love our beef. The breakfast choices were nourishment and that's about it.

 

Being a huge fan of Hawaii - we even got married there - and have loved returning, I disagree that the FP is a remote Hawaii. The French Polynesia is so much better.

 

I was sorry to read that you were so unhappy. It doesn't sound like you had much fun. Hope your next trip is better and filled with much laughter.

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Mythologist, you just identified a HUGE improvement on the PG since we were on board. During the second week of our B2B on the PG in 2005 169 persons who were an incentive group boarded the ship. They were all genuinely good people having a great time at company expense. But their presence was occasionally a serious challenge to the rest of us. But far far worse, Regent deliberately shafted us on sailaway night by closing up room service and requiring non-groupies to assemble in La Veranda to eat Saturday's pathetic mid-day lunch buffet for Saturday's sailaway dinner. The fact that Regent went out of their way to make sure you were not inconvenienced is, IMO, a huge improvement. I just wonder if the ship was occupied 90% by a single group why it was not handled as a full charter. Pat

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I have to jump on the cheerleader bandwagon. My first trip on the PG was in 1999, when it was Radisson. It was my first trip with Radisson and my first balcony cabin and I've been hooked ever since. Yes, I love Hawaii (Maui in particular!) and I've been going every year since 1988, but I've found nothing that surpasses the beauty of the South Pacific. I remember on my last cruise in 2006 that I was anxious to see what the new fish was on the menu for each night so I could try it. Yes, the airport was bad, but it was much better than my first trip to the SP in 1986!!! Not only am I going on my third PG cruise in October but I talked some friends who I met on the Mariner in Alaska to come with. I know we will all love it! There will always be problems or issues on every cruise/ship but I try not to let them upset the vacation. Being on any ship is better than being on land!!!

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