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Dive Review of Paul Gauguin Luxury Cruise in
French Polynesia/Bora Bora, Moorea

Paul Gauguin Luxury Cruise: "Reserve Early, Reserve Often", Aug, 2019,

by Richard M Tavan, CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 11009 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments This was my first opportunity to dive in the South Pacific. The M/S Paul Gaugin is a luxury cruise ship that majors in land tours and minors in diving. The dive desk is open from time to time near the main reception area. The excellent dive dock at the aft water line is open when dive excursions are under way and used to launch RIBs to nearby dive sites. The RIBs were pretty tight but the rides were short. There was no diving from the main ship. The dive dock has rental equipment, hot fresh water shower, and some small cubbies for stowing extra gear. Leave as much as possible in your cabin. The dive staff were outstanding - friendly, efficient, knowledgeable, and helpful.

On snorkel excursions, they did a lot of chumming which I didn't appreciate, but it did attract dozens of sharks and rays. These were not run by the Gaugin.

One word of advice: Book your dives online on the first day that they take reservations! Unlike excursions from many cruise ships I have taken, dive excursions from the Gaugin reserve full quickly. I was traveling when the reservation window opened and deferred signing up until I returned, about a week later. Almost all dive opportunities were already reserved full. I managed to book only one, 1-tank dive. They keep a wait list, but it was not obvious and I learned about it only a few weeks later. I got on it but was not optimistic. Then I got on board, presented my release forms at the Dive Desk, and found that they actually had space available on several other dives. I ended up reserving two 2-tank days and one 1-tank day. One of the 2-tank days was weathered out, but I got onto a second tank on the supposedly 1-tank day, just by asking the dive chief (who was also the DM on my zodiac) if he had an extra spot on the next dive. So the word is "Book early, book often." Keep asking. Things change. They may be holding out just to support that. I ended up doing two 2-tank dive days and could have done 3x2 if the weather had cooperated. Not bad for a sideline of the trip.

The primary purpose of this cruise was neither diving nor touring but rather the 2019 total eclipse of the sun. Despite valiant efforts by the ship's captain, crew, and astronomer advisors, we were weathered out of totality. We were also unable to disembark at Pitcairn Island, a remote spot rarely visited by cruise ships (about one a month IIRC). So there were multiple cancellations on this cruise, none the fault of the ship or its staff.

Two of our fellow travelers were sponsors of the excellent documentary "Chasing Coral." Go see it on Netflix. The film documents the discouraging bleaching events that are killing coral around the world, probably the result of global warming. At one of our snorkel sites, almost all the corals were dead. At two dive sites we found healthy corals and at two more we clearly saw the beginning of a bleaching event. This is real, folks. Watch the movie.

One last comment about the ship: Our cabin was excellent, with more storage than many hotel rooms. The gym, bars, lounges, and other common areas were excellent. The theater worked well, although the projector was weak. The restaurants were lovely, as was the food. Unfortunately, it was bland, even tasteless at times. We had only one memorable meal, at one of the specialty restaurants (reservation required). The difference between serving 200 people and 20 people need not be so stark.

All in all, we had a good time despite many washouts and limited diving opportunities. This is not a dedicated diving live-aboard but its larger size made it a comfortable cruise with diving on the side.
Websites Paul Gauguin Luxury Cruise   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Monterey CA, Channel Islands CA, Hawaii, Galapagos, many places in the Caribbean.
Closest Airport Papeete Getting There Direct flight from/to SFO on United was excellent.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 80-82°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-80 Ft/ 15-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 50-60 minute limit; most divers followed the DM; a few UWPs dived their own profile.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Plenty of space in your own cabin with electricity. Rinse tanks on the dive deck. Some attention to UWPs but not a priority. All I did was some snapshots with an unenclosed TG-5 during snorkel swims. Some well-equipped UWPs were allowed to dive their own profile and probably had a good time.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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