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   Cruise Travel - Featured Profile

Welcome to this month's Featured Ship Profile. Each month we publish an objective review of a different ship to help you find the cruise that's right for you.

MS Paul Gauguin

MS Paul Gauguin

TravelPage.com Rating:Four Stars
Operator: Radisson Seven Seas Cruise
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1998 / 2001
Length / Tonnage: 513 / 18,800
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 160 / 320
Officers / Crew: French / International
Operating Area: Southern Pacific from Papeete

Review by Christopher E. Smith, TravelPage.com, Associate Cruise Editor

I once visited the most beautiful chain of islands in the world- the lush and beautiful islands called French Polynesia. That was eighteen years ago and even now the siren song of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora whispers to me daily. TravelPage.com Cruise Editor Mark Goldberg yearns for the icy cool beauty of the summer Arctic, but I want to go to back to Tahiti...Only time and money seem to separate me from these island enchantresses...they were expensive to visit when I went there in 1980 and they arenít any bargain deal now....unless you are on a cruise. And now there is Radisson Seven Seasís MS PAUL GAUGUIN waiting to take me away on one of her weekly circuits of French Polynesia...Run, I tell myself...donít walk...BOOK this cruise...You should, too...and if you are a first time visitors, expect to begin a life long love affair with the South Pacific. Everything you have read about these islands is true..from the sweet smell of the air, the inviting ocean, the languid pace....the lush, tropical beauty of these islands...a sure fire tonic for the world weary.

Not only does the allure of these islands tug at me...the PAUL GAUGUIN is one magnificent little ship. There isnít a cabin in her I don't like. Every one of them is outside, each of them measures at least 200 square feet and quite a few measure a lot more...Every cabin has a bathroom with bathtub...and amenities for each cabin include bathrobes for each passenger, a hair dryer, a TV complete with VCR, safe, phone and the ever important stocked refrigerator....ALL this on the ship AND French Polynesia too...This is MY idea of heaven on earth and honestly...itís as close to heaven as I want to get for years to come!!!

PAUL GAUGUIN has everything youíd expect a modern cruise ship to have...lounges, casino, gift shop, a gym and spa....but at 16,000 tons, sheís modest in size...yet she has quite a pedigree...Built in France, she is registered in France, too, and has European officers and staff trained in Europe....and so she will be casual in that upscale sort of way. Active vacationers will like her for her facilities...she has equipment for divers, snorkelers, windsurfers and so on.....but after an hour or so in Polynesia, my hat is off to anyone who has the energy for such sports.....I like to look at the islands from a deck chair on board ship and from a hammock ashore.

The ports? From Papeete, the PAUL GAUGUIN takes in Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Moorea....and trust me, thereís plenty of time spent on each island to really get to know them. And the locals? Some travelers donít do well with the French Polynesians....and if you are a Francophile and insist on speaking the highest class of Parisian French, itís just possible that your welcome in Tahiti may be slightly hostile....the French government has, over the years, made some questionable decisions regarding this paradise. And when you go ashore, do not expect to achieve any satisfaction from any inhabitants you may disagree with by threatening, bullying, and carrying on...service and attitudes in Polynesia are a world away from our frenzied ways...sometimes service in this paradise is lax or nonexistent. So donít bark! Instead...do what I did when I was there...Smile and adopt the attitude that everything will attended to in time....and Iím in French Polynesia, so Iím in no rush...This .works like a charm. By the way, bribes wonít and donít help.....tipping isnít part of the culture.

So if the travel gods are listening, Iíll soon have a seat on Air France to Papeete.....and the pessimistic side of me is already dreading the flight home, always a time for me to struggle with having to leave Shangri-la and having to come to grips with day to day reality.

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Description: Sail between Vancouver and Seward, departing Sundays on the ms Statendam or ms Volendam and enjoy towering mountains, actively calving glaciers and pristine wildlife habitat. Glacier Bay and College Fjord offer two completely different glacier-viewing experiences.
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