M/S PAUL GAUGUIN; IN CONCLUSION……

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Dream islands. Islands of dreams…. Photo copyright is that of the author

It’s quite strange to realise that I have now been back home from my Paul Gauguin cruise for almost two full weeks. Right now, England is in the grip of both an extended, totally unexpected heatwave, and a frenzy of hope and expectation as we knuckle down to face off Sweden in the quarter finals of the World Cup.

Meanwhile, our government and other elected politicians, together with sundry, rabid commentators of increasingly questionable sanity, continue to mimic the PR firm responsible for promoting the Titanic. They still assure us that ‘it will all work out fine in the end’, so that’s OK, then. So, business as not at all usual here in the not so United Kingdom, alas.

All of which makes my looking back at that fabulous Paul Gauguin cruise just that bit sweeter and, conversely, just a touch wistful, too. It’s said that time and tide lend both distance and clarity. And, with that in mind, here’s just a few, final observations on what is, for many people, the ultimate ‘dream trip’.

BITE THE BULLET, AND TAKE THE JOURNEY…..

Yes, a thirty hour long haul journey is nobody’s idea of fun. And, if your holiday time (and budget) stretches to it, then try and get out to Tahiti a few days before the cruise, or even consider staying on for a few days afterwards. Better still, do both.

It’s not an easy journey, but it does not have to be as hard as you think. A little advanced planning and preparation works wonders. And-my word- once you do get out there, you’ll be so glad that you did.

DON’T EXPECT THE OBVIOUS…

Sure, French Polynesia and the Society Islands are almost heart breaking in their sheer, physical beauty, but don’t expect the massive tourist infrastructure of, say, Florida, or even the Bahamas. Bear in mind that the main currency is actually the South Pacific Franc, and also that- apart from Polynesian- the main language that you’ll actually hear spoken out here is French. That said, all of the locals I met spoke a better standard of English than many people located not a million miles away from me as I write this.

You won’t always have immediate access to ATM’s, either, so make sure you have a credit/debit card that will work for you handy. You can exchange cash at most of the resort hotels, of course, and at the main banks in Papeete itself.

EXPECT RAIN AT TIMES….

The lush, verdant landscape of Tahiti and her surrounding islands is not simply the product of all that gorgeous sunshine alone. When the rain comes here (and some does come most every day), it thumps down in buckets. Though the main ‘rainy season’ runs from July through September, rainfall is a key element to making this beautiful environment what it is. Think-and pack-accordingly.

RESPECT THAT ENVIRONMENT

This one really should come under the heading of ‘duh’, but honestly, it’s surprising just how careless and inconsiderate some people still are. Try and use the same plastic water bottle several times, for instance. It’s not rocket science, people. And please, try and cut down on the use of straws where and when you can.

One of the great things about the Paul Gauguin herself is that the ship is striving to be as paperless an operation as is practically possible. So, instead of the traditional daily programme that is normally put under each cabin door at night for the next day, Paul Gauguin has created an inter-active menu on your in-room TV that shows all food, entertainment and shore excursion options right across the ship. It even includes details of the tender operations from ship to shore on a daily basis. Yep, that’s right- the food menus for each day are right there on your television screen, and you can order food and drinks via it, too.

This fast, interactive system is efficient, constantly updated and, most importantly, it works like a charm. And, while all of this information is still displayed on bulletins inside each of the ship’s lifts, the daily blizzard of paper saved by it is a laudable, well thought out bit of work.

It takes a few minutes to get used to it, but it is my fervent hope that other cruise lines will eventually sail down this self same route. It seems eminently logical to me.

Just a few, final point that I thought worth mentioning here. Until the next adventure……

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