Is Bora Bora on your bucket list?


Did you know that I am a Paul Gauguin Cruises PEARLS Accredited Partner? Awesome, right?! But what does that mean, what is Paul Gauguin Cruises, and how will this help you? Let me explain…

The PEARLS program is a training program for travel professionals to learn about Paul Gauguin Cruises and the islands that they visit in the Pacific Ocean which includes Tahiti (overnight Bora Bora), Fiji, and other South Pacific islands. The course was made up of several chapters followed by a final exam. I passed the exam so am an official accredited partner and PG Pearls Specialist.

What is Paul Gauguin Cruises? You may recognize the name “Paul Gauguin” - he was an French post-impressionist artist and his artwork (paintings and sculptures) can be found in museums across Europe. He visited Tahiti and drew a lot of inspiration from the culture and scenery. He eventually moved to French Polynesia towards the end of his life; he is buried on the tiny island of Hiva Oa and there are also several Paul Gauguin museums and sights on the other islands.

Pacific Beachcomber, the leader in French Polynesia luxury resorts, is behind Paul Gauguin Cruises. With more than 25 years of experience in the French Polynesian tourism market, Pacific Beachcomber is the country's largest luxury hotel and cruise operator in the region. In addition to The Gauguin, Pacific Beachcomber operates seven award-winning hotels and is committed towards achieving environmental and social sustainability.  Most recently, Pacific Beachcomber opened The Brando, an award-winning luxury eco-resort on the private island of Tetiaroa.

Launched in 1998, the renowned, 5+-star m/s Paul Gauguin was built specifically to sail the waters of Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific and is the longest continually operating year-round luxury cruise ship in this enchanting destination. No other luxury ship in history has offered this level of single-destination focus and expertise on a year-round basis for such an extended period of time.

The ship itself is small - capacity of 332 guests and 217 crewmembers. Its small scale allows it to sail in the shallow seas of the South Pacific, reaching areas larger cruise ships can’t get to. This is very much a destination immersive cruise - while you’ll sleep onboard the ship, most of the time you will actually be spent exploring the land and water of the islands and atolls that you are visiting. The ship even has an onboard watersports arena so you can kayak and windsurf right off the boat!

The cruise itself is quite the luxurious experience with a lot of inclusions - besides having a spacious stateroom (almost 70% have private balconies), the watersports marina, and all your meals onboard included in a choice of venues, you also receive complimentary beverages - including select wines, beers and spirits, in-room minibar that is replenished daily, complimentary room service, shipboard entertainment including a troupe of Polynesian performers and live music in the evenings, plus use of their secluded white-sand beach in Bora Bora and a day on their private islet where you can snorkel, enjoy a barbeque and an open bar, or just relax (on select itineraries).

How will my training help you? Besides being more educated on the options for Tahiti, now that I have been recognized as an “Accredited Partner” I get exclusive access to special promotions and sales, as well as direct connectivity with sales support and customer service (which may not seem like a big deal but having heightened “behind the scenes” relationship with them only improves your experience).

Here are some other FAQs:

  • Who is the perfect client for this trip? Divers & Snorkelers; Honeymooners who want a relaxing experience; Active Families - they are kid friendly!; Foodies; Eco-conscious travelers; Empty Nesters
  • They allow kids? Yes! They even have kids programs - called the Ambassadors of the Environment Family Program - during the summer and holiday breaks. The flexible program allows kids - and their parents - to choose from onboard activities as well as daily excursions.
  • Is there Butler Service? Yes, there is butler service for some categories of rooms and suites.
  • How many restaurants? There are 3 fine-dining venues plus 24 hour room service.
  • Can I combine with an over-the-water bungalow stay? Yes - these types of accommodations are typically found in Tahiti - Bora Bora has the most options. On some itineraries, an overnight is included in the ship’s itinerary. Many guests choose to stay off the ship at the resort for the night instead. Otherwise, we can extend your trip before/after the cruise with more nights on the individual islands/atolls.
  • Do they sail year round? Yes. They have several different itineraries including Tahiti, the Society Islands, Marquesas Islands and the Cook Islands. Shortest is 7 nights and longest is 14 nights.
  • Are they expensive? This isn’t a typical cruise experience so pricing will be higher than what you may expect to pay for Caribbean cruise BUT there are a lot of differences - small ship, personalized service, upgraded quality of meals, spacious staterooms, most drinks (including alcohol), room service, non-motorized watersports and gratuities are all included. And it is in TAHITI!!

Want more info? Ready to book? Just send me a quick email and we can start planning your Pacific Islands adventure!

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I went. I saw. I conquered a fear


I had an irrational fear of Orcas (aka killer whales) until I saw them in the wild. I think the fear stemmed from seeing them at Sea World when I was younger - I didn't like walking near their tank when they would swim by. I felt that they could easily jump out and grab me, or worse yet I could somehow fall in. I dreaded being chosen as the "lucky" kid who got to give Shamu a kiss (thankfully that never happened - probably helped that I would insist sitting up as high as possible away from the tank!)

It became a joke that I was scared of them. I knew it was irrational. But I still jumped when I would see them even if it was just a photo (or billboard which we have in Orlando for Sea World!)

But I knew that whale watching is one of the "musts" when visiting the Pacific Northwest. I recommend it for others and those that go love it. But was I really going to do it? I had inquired about rates and availability before we left on our trip knowing that I had 3 weeks to decide if I would give it a go. My husband was on board (no pun intended) - that was one of the things he had always wanted to do and was excited that we'd be somewhere we could see the whales in the wild. But I still wasn't sure...

Well, we were in Victoria, BC on a beautiful sunny day. Our friends who live there encouraged us to go (even though they had never done it!) I summoned up all the courage I could and signed up for a 3-hour (gulp!) whale watching tour. There were sightings the day before of several pods and even Humpbacks! I made sure that we were on the biggest boat they offered which was about a 60-passenger double-decker boat. Not huge but not tiny so I was fine with that. It even had a bathroom and you could buy hot cocoa on board. So I could at least have a warm drink and not look out the windows.

The trip to where the whales had been spotted was beautiful. Extremely scenic with mountains and islands. I was enjoying taking photos of the views and enjoying the cool sea breeze. We were about 30 minutes into the tour. And then a fin was spotted. And another. And another.

We had found a pod! And O. M. G. It was AMAZING!! They were freely swimming in the open waters. Diving down for salmon (which makes up the majority of the diet of these Southern Resident Orcas (not seals which I had feared the night before when reading reviews that other people saw them "feeding". Don't believe everything you think you read on TripAdvisor!) The onboard naturalist guides could identify the whales by their markings and told us their names and how they were related. It was fascinating.

We then went on a search to find another pod which we did find. This one was a mom and her younger offspring. They were traveling closely together - synchronizing their dives down for salmon. They'd all disappear for a couple minutes and then pop up somewhere else. It was so fun looking out for their fins and spurts of water.


We also got to see a large group of Sea Lions just hanging about on a rocky island. They were much louder and easier to spot than the whales!

On the way back to Victoria we did make a circle to look for the Humpback Whales but alas we did not see them. We were there in early October right at the end of whale watching season so they may have already moved south. The good thing about going during the "off season" was there was not much more than a dozen people on board so there was plenty of space to spread out - either inside on the bottom deck which had large windows or up on the top deck that was open to the sky. I even moved around the boat to get better vantage points - something I did not expect that I would do!

I am sooooo glad that I went whale watching. I no longer have that fear feeling when I see them. Instead I have wonderful memories from a successful whale watching trip and also the excitement of doing it again! I think next time I would even try one of the smaller Zephyr boats (which are like inflatable rafts that go fast - they give you gear to wear to keep you warm). It was a definite highlight on our 5-week Pacific Northwest adventure.

I hope my story helps encourage you to face your fear on your next trip. Or at least give you something to consider until then :)

Places to whale watch: Victoria and Vancouver, BC; Seattle & San Juan Islands, Washington; Hawaii; New England; Costa Rica; Iceland; South Africa; Alaska ~ Depends on the season as most whales are migratory.

Ready to plan your fear-conquering adventure?. Contact me now to start planning!

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