Booking a cruise is one of your most important travel decisions of the year—here are our best tips
In partnership with Paul Gauguin Cruises
Ah, sunning yourself on a ship deck with the view of the wide-open seas, a coconut in your hand. If anything says vacation, it’s a relaxing cruise to a remote island with the people you love best. Booking a cruise will be one of your most important travel decisions of the year, and choosing the right cruise at the right time is essential. Here are our tips to make sure your cruise is a stunningly memorable experience that’s perfect for you.
Consider Your Purpose
Why are you cruising? If your intention is to interact deeply and learn authentically about the Polynesian islands, look no further than on-board hosts like Les Gauguines, the Tahitian storytellers and entertainers on Paul Gauguin cruises. Immersed in their retellings of ancestral legends, their enriching traditional song and dance, and their hands-on folk craft demonstrations, you’ll leave with indelible memories specifically rooted in time and place.
If your goal is to impart cultural traditions to your kids, pick a cruise like Paul Gauguin Cruises, which features the Moana Explorer program, which will leave you kids wide-eyed and full of wonder. Kids ages 7 to 15 will be able to partake in naturalist-led island excursions, lead water experiments, craft local jewelry, play marine life board games, and design their own Polynesian tattoos.
Booking one to two years in advance often gives you the best deal. If you’re booking for this year, January through March are excellent times of the year to book, getting a head start on other vacation planners. You’ll also have your pick of staterooms if you choose earlier, like Paul Gauguin Cruises’ popular suites. Over 70 percent of the cruise line’s staterooms offer balconies, but suites give you a little more room to luxuriate.
Stick to a Smaller Ship
“Good things come in small packages,” Monica Sagisi, Director of Marketing at Paul Gauguin Cruises, says. “With a maximum guest count of 332, and a crew-to-guest ratio of 1 to 1.5, the level of service our guests experience is unmatched.” Small to medium-sized cruise ships offer plentiful advantages over huge ships. Not only can they sail to islands that bigger cruise ships can’t visit, but they can take more direct routes to those islands, nimbly skirting between the waters of these less-visited islands. Disembarking from a smaller ship takes less time than the notorious hour-long waits on big cruise ships, and friendships forged aboard are more intimate on smaller cruises. Evenings on a medium-sized ship also offer quality dinners with local food and cocktails.
Stay (More Than) a Few Days
The last thing you want to do is rush your cruise. Though Tahiti is only two hours flight from Hawaii, it will take you a few days to really unwind from life and work stress. That means that if you book a three-day itinerary on a big cruise ship, most of your time will be spent in lines rather than relaxing.
A seven-day cruise, like Paul Gauguin’s voyage to Tahiti and the Society Islands, is an ideal amount of time for relaxation, bonding with family and friends, and self-care in the Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm. Paul Gauguin’s onboard spa provides for every little need, including skincare therapies, skin exfoliation, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, body wraps, facials, beauty treatments, nail services, and hairstyling.
If you can, go deep with a 14-day cruise to remote islands like the Marquesas, where you’ll have once-in-a-lifetime wilderness experiences hiking the rainforest once populated by ancient Maori tribes.
Book a Multi-Island Itinerary
It would be tough to see all the islands in an area like Tahiti’s neighbors, the Society Islands, if you weren’t on a cruise ship, so take advantage of multi-island itineraries. Onboard Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Tahiti & the Society Islands cruise, you’ll easily skip and hop from Tahiti to Huahine, Taha’a, Bora Bora, Moorea and back to Tahiti in seven luxurious days of sailing, sunning, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, barbecuing, and drinking out of coconuts. Explore the islands with a four-wheel-drive safari, an aquabike excursion, or a glass-bottomed boat ride.
Pick a Cruise Line With Perks
You’ll want to find a cruise line that that offers special perks, like access to private beaches. If you’re visiting the islands of Bora Bora and Taha’a, you can access sweeping private white sand beaches open only to you and your fellow shipmates with Paul Gauguin Cruises. If you’re celebrating a wedding ceremony or vow renewal, few things are as special as a private Polynesian blessing on a pristine beach right next to the sky-blue waters.
Educated guest lecturers are another perk of highly-rated cruise lines. With the guest lecturers, you can learn so much that the memories and lessons will last a lifetime. Paul Gauguin Cruises are hosted by oceanographers, maritime historians, geographers, art historians, anthropologists and sociologists who teach you both the histories, epic legends and current affairs of your historically-fascinating destinations.
Travel Abroad with Ease
Make foreign travel easier by booking trusted ship excursions. The vetted excursions available via your cruise will be more reliable and better guided than trying to find your own foreign excursion—plus, you’ll be sure to return to the ship on time.
Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Society Islands & Tahiti Iti Cruise offers the opportunity for an optional tour to nature preserve Bonjouir’s Garden of Eden, where you’ll follow a well-versed local guide on a journey along the banks of a beautiful river, threading through freshwater swimming ponds as you survey 100-year-old mape trees, local flora and fauna, and traditional cooking tubers like taro, fafa and manioc. You’ll taste fresh local fruits and, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can swim up the river to feed the eels and hike up to a panoramic view.