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.
ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: Climbing along the coast, I was trying to snap pictures of the cool-blue Puerto Vallarta waters outside my car window (I know, it never works) when we started winding along stone walls draped in jungle-like foliage. Annoyed my view was blocked, I looked around to see where we were just as we were parking at Hotel Mousai — I audibly gasped. The all-glass, chic and incredibly grand entrance was so well-secluded, it somehow snuck up on me.
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Emirates added Seychelles (SEZ) to its list of recent flight resumptions, including Stockholm (ARN) and beefing up services to the Maldives (MLE). Emirates resumed Seychelles services Aug. 1, alongside the country’s re-opening to international tourists.
ARRIVAL/CHECK-IN: Arriving in Singapore is an easy affair as there are plenty of taxis for the 15-minute ride from Changi Airport, with little traffic. Coming into the circular drive of the famed Raffles hotel, you take in the view of this historic 1887 property. The equally famed doormen, dressed in traditional Sikh livery, greet guests and help with any requests.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.
The United Arab Emirates announced all inbound travelers are required to carry proof of a negative COVID-19 test to show upon arrival. This requirement will be upheld by all the country’s airports and applies to residents and tourists alike.
Take Five at Saint Lucia’s famed Jade Mountain. The resort’s deal allows guests booking the signature Sky, Star or Moon sanctuary to receive their fifth night free, an offer valued at a savings of more than $1,200. The offer is valid for travel through Dec. 19. Learn more and book.
Though air travel slowed as airports temporarily closed and borders shuttered to stifle the spread of coronavirus, the airline industry — led by oneworld alliance member airlines — enacted enhanced protective measures to reduce risk and protect passengers.
Looking for a romantic getaway? At Couples Resorts in Jamaica, travelers can earn up to $500 in instant cash credits when booking a stay of five nights or more with the Couples Comeback offer. The offer is valid at all properties for bookings through Sept. 30. Travel by Aug. 31 for $500 in cash credits and Sept. 1–Dec. 24 for $400 in cash credits. Guests who provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result will receive a $100 resort credit. Book online.