Amy Webster is a cruise specialist with Paul Gauguin Cruises. As part of our series “Experts of Tahiti,” Amy traveled aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin with her family. She shares her family’s favorite experiences, tips, water activities, cuisine, and memorable moments from the voyage.
When did you travel with your family aboard The Gauguin?
My family cruised on The Gauguin for a March 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus voyage. Joining me on the cruise were my husband Randy, 9-year-old son Jake, 7-year-old daughter Emily, my brother Bret and his wife RaNae, their 13-year-old daughter Jenna, and their 15-year-old son Wilson.
What were some of the highlights or special activities during your voyage?
Early in the cruise, a member of Les Gauguines, The Gauguin’s Tahitian ambassadors, gave Emily a beautiful flower lei necklace. She wore it everywhere for as long as the flowers could last. Emily also enjoyed playing dress up with the many pareos we purchased in various ports and in the boutique on board. She loved the Bora Bora private white-sand beach and spent part of both days snorkeling in the lagoon and building sand castles. Emily also brought her water wings and a Hello Kitty boogie board from home and used these in the lagoon. She still smiles when talking about the many shades of blue in the water.
Jake snorkeled every day with stingrays, eels, and fish of all colors for as long as possible. Without a doubt his favorite island was our private island Motu Mahana. Both Jake and his cousin Wilson explored the entire island and surrounding lagoon. A highlight for the boys was enjoying huge coconuts filled with ice-cold root beer! One of Jake’s favorite memories is room service aboard The Gauguin. One night he ordered cheeseburgers with extra bacon and an ice cream sundae.
Any other highlights of the cruise?
My husband really loved the dining. The venues and menus were exciting, exotic, and exquisite. There was something for everyone, whether it was a new dish or a familiar one. Randy also had a fun ukulele lesson, saw a couple of the shows in Le Grand Salon, and tried his luck in the casino. Most importantly, he was able to relax poolside when not on a beach. Bret is an amazing photographer and was able to capture the essence of the beauty of the South Pacific over and over again. Through the eye of his lens, he was able to bring home photos that flew off the walls of his art gallery in Park City, Utah. And RaNae was able to find the “perfect” strand of Tahitian pearls.
Your husband booked The Gauguin’s SCUBA diving program. How was it?
Randy was able to take the Discover SCUBA Diving program and really enjoyed it. It was a great experience to learn the fundamentals of diving and then actually experience it and see the abundance of coral gardens and vibrant fish. Jenna and Wilson’s highlights of the trip were the dives. Along with their parents, they were all pre-certified and able to participate in three dives together as family. The most thrilling moments of the dives were seeing blacktip reef sharks!
What was your favorite shore excursion?
Our entire family enjoyed the Rays and Snorkeling by Jetboat in Bora Bora. The first stop was at the sand bar with so many rays within reach. The guide was very informative about these beautiful marine animals, and those who wanted to were able to touch the rays—a little on the slimy side, but very gentle and majestic. We then boarded the jetboat and cruised to the east side of Bora Bora. Everyone loved the jetboat for its speed and style. I was a little nervous about the younger kids, but did not need to be as the driver drove very fast but kept the boat steady. Above one of the most beautiful coral gardens, the jetboat stopped, and it was silent all around us. I remember how peaceful it was with the multi-shades of blue and quiet surroundings. Below the surface, there was a brilliant, colorful feast of fish activity. We were there for maybe an hour and finished up with a cold beverage and fresh fruit. We then continued all the way around the island of Bora Bora with the guide, who pointed out a former home of Marlon Brando.
What impact did the local culture and people of French Polynesia have on your family?
While exploring in Rangiroa in the Tuamotus, our kids made friends with local kids playing on the shore not far from where the tender docks. It had rained a little earlier, and there were several rain puddles. None of the kids could resist splashing in the puddles and giggling. I treasure the laughter shared in that moment. Neither could understand the other’s language, but laughter was understood by all. We were enchanted with the calmness of the Polynesian culture, the tranquility of the islands, and the sea. We all carry the “ah” feeling when reminiscing.
Do you have any advice for parents thinking about bringing their children to Tahiti?
It is one of the most active and relaxing vacations we have ever taken with our children and extended family. Each night, everyone reminisced about the day’s activities and couldn’t wait for the next day. It was wonderful to know that all of our beverages and meals were included on board The Gauguin whether in the dining rooms or staterooms. And our stateroom balcony had Plexiglas installed for kid safety before we arrived.
What are your tips or packing suggestions?
Everyone should have their own backpack to carry their own beach towel from the ship, hat, sunscreen, etc. Utilize the complimentary snorkel gear from The Gauguin. The snorkel gear comes with mesh bag for easy carrying. Essentials to pack: bathing suits and cover-ups, swim shirts with UV protection for kids and adults, wide-brimmed hats, baseball caps, and a few pairs of sunglasses.
What three words describe the Paul Gauguin Cruises experience?
Unforgettable, everlasting, and return/repeat the Paul Gauguin Cruises experience.
Your family stayed pre-cruise at the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, which was named “Top Family Hotel in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific” in Travel + Leisure’s 2014 World’s Best Awards. Did you find this to be true for your family?
Without a doubt, the resort is family oriented, and our entire family enjoyed the beauty of it. We stayed in an overwater bungalow, and the ladder to the lagoon was in constant use morning to night. We also spent time on the first day at the infinity pool and on the beach. The second day, we learned about dolphins at the Moorea Dolphin Center and about the rehabilitation of turtles at the Turtle Care Center, which are both located at the resort.
What is the best part about your job?
I get to talk with agents and guests from all over about Paul Gauguin Cruises, our unique itineraries, and the best crew/staff and onboard service in the world.
To learn more about Paul Gauguin Cruises and activities mentioned in this blog, please click on the links below:
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