WHEN PARIS STOCKBROKER and would-be painter Paul Gauguin struck out for Tahiti and the South Pacific in 1891, it marked an escape from the confines of civilization. Once he made that leap, Gauguin produced masterpieces on canvas that captured the essence of a tropical paradise. Today, cruise passengers can enter that same magical world aboard the aptly named m/s Paul Gauguin, immersing themselves in the exotic cultures and landscapes that have mesmerized art lovers for more than a century.
The m/s Paul Gauguin is at one with the translucent lagoons and sharply etched, verdant archipelagoes of the region. If Paul Gauguin’s first residence was a humble bamboo hut, modern escapists now have a choice of swank staterooms on Paul Gauguin Cruises’ boutique vessel, specially designed and outfitted for South Pacific cruising. The ship is intimate (just 332 passengers) and generously staffed (217 crew). There’s a twin focus on Polynesian culture (with expert speakers, special guests and indigenous performers) and on water sports (with scuba diving, snorkeling and a retractable platform for kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing). The Gauguin is one of the few ships in the world to offer onboard scuba certification and a resident dive team. Full fare covers round-trip air travel from Los Angeles, all shipboard gratuities, a full range of complimentary beverages, 24-hour in-cabin dining, world-class meals and access to a private beach on Bora Bora and a private island near Tahiti.
One of Paul Gauguin Cruises’ best introductions to this remote domain is its 12-night Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands cruise, which we booked in June. The Gauguin proved a surprisingly spacious small ship, truly of luxury class, offering a pool, casino, spa, fitness center, theater and internet center, along with three fine open-seating restaurants and gourmet menus devised by noted Paris chef Jean-Pierre Vigato. In addition to magicians, a classical musician and a range of experts, we were entertained and informed by seven resident Polynesian performers and craft instructors. A special guest was renowned ocean environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, who talked about his family’s pioneering undersea explorations, illustrated with rare films and videos.
Our itinerary spanned four island nations: Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands and finally French Polynesia, home to stunning Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti. It was a formidable navigation through many cultures and ports, consuming more than 2,000 nautical miles. Perhaps the most breathtaking landings were the final few, which included a morning snorkeling with stingrays and lemon sharks in the waters of Bora Bora, a circle tour of mountainous Moorea and a complete day of leisure on Motu Mahana, the Gauguin’s tiny private islet in the Cook Islands. Here the sun chairs, barbecue and floating bar awaited our arrival, and kayaks and snorkeling gear were always close at hand.
For travelers seeking to follow Paul Gauguin’s escape route, this cruise through a seabound paradise is nothing short of extraordinary — carefree yet scintillating, mysterious yet deeply familiar, a voyage through a South Pacific Shangri-La of white sands and diaphanous waters startled back to life as our ship shifted from culture to culture, isle to isle and beach to beach.
One thing surprising about the Prince Edward Island capital is its abundance of shops specializing in affordable, fashion-forward jewelry rendered in sterling silver, vermeil, 14K gold and semi-precious stones. Whether you prefer delicate pieces or bold wearable art, you can be assured the pieces for sale are inspired by the maritime island setting and, therefore, specific to the place where they are created. Here are a few shining, woman-owned examples:
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Norway, a haven for visionary artists, architects and designers, showcases an exceptionally diverse array of cultural attractions. This year, the country commemorates exciting milestones and unveilings captivating enthusiasts of the arts, from iconic scenic routes to new museums to gallery openings. Up Norway features these new offerings in personalized itineraries catered to aesthetes.
As a peripatetic traveler, I am always trying to balance the pleasures of dining well with a life-long challenge to control my weight. It’s not always easy, because I consider tasting typical, authentic regional dishes among the highlights of most journeys, and those foods are rarely known for “healthful” rankings! So, I started staying at spas way back in the 1980s — before they were ubiquitous — because meals were assured to be pure, clean and wholesome.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) believes business travel is a fundamental force for good and brings the industry together to connect, innovate and set new standards. With members from across the globe, GBTA engages the many voices of business travel to build a collective future, providing a platform for buyers and suppliers to come together, connect with peers, grow their network and shape the future of the industry.
Flying to the paradise of Turks & Caicos has never been easier thanks to many new, non-stop flights across three airlines to the destination. Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways all announced new flights, allowing travelers to visit this dreamy destination.
With the rush of Black Friday and Cyber Monday over, many of us still wrack our brains on what to buy friends and family this holiday season. For the traveler in your life, finding the perfect gift can go a long way. Here are some top-quality products sure to impress loved ones this season:
The Saronic or Argo Saronic Islands of Greece call travelers to explore its seven small islands and islets brimming with history, natural sites and more. With most easily accessible by boat, the islands’ proximity to ports of Athens make the Saronic Islands an ideal destination for those preferring shorter boat rides. In fact, trips from Athens ports to the islands take only between 10 minutes and two hours, depending on the island you choose, making them perfect for day or weekend trips. From Piraeus port, you can access Hydra, Spetses, Aegina and Poros directly. Come explore these stunning islands with us and find the inspiration to plan your next trip to these islands. Hydra Hydra town curves around a slope overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf like an amphitheater and is considered one of the most romantic destinations in Greece. Most unique to the island is its lack of vehicles. People on the island get around on mules and donkeys as well as water taxis, making for a peaceful and laid-back day. Hydra lies a two-hour ferry ride from Piraeus port in Athens.
PHOTO: © VADYM LAVRA | DREAMSTIME.COM