Taha’a, French Polynesia – It all began when I awoke at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 20, 2013 on Day 8 of our Cook Islands and Society Islands 11-night cruise.  I looked out of my stateroom balcony and the turquoise waters of the m/s Paul Gauguin’s private motu (island) glistened in the distance.  I realized the ship would be setting its anchor shortly in the deep waters off the tiny island of Taha’a, the smallest of the Society Islands, which would enable passengers to be tendered to the private motu for the Paul Gauguin’s legendary Motu Barbecue.  This is definitely an all-day beach barbecue/watersports filled festivity that I was looking forward to experiencing again.  But since we were lucky enough to be anchored in Taha’a on a Sunday—I wanted to begin this Sabbath morning by giving our ESCAPESEEKER team a Sunday experience they will not soon forget.  If you ever find yourself on any of the Society Islands on a Sunday, and you love A CAPPELLA CHORUS, please make note:  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU ATTEND THE LOCAL VILLAGE PROTESTANT CHURCH if you want to hear the most harmonious voices on earth!  I kid you not!


Well, that was my plan.  But I knew it would not be the simplest plan to achieve.  It’s not like we’re just dock-side and could go on the island anytime we wish.  It definitely would require some extraordinary assistance.  So, I picked up the phone—by this time it’s only 6:00 a.m.—still quite early for both passengers and crew, and dialed “0” and immediately, the night duty staff answered the phone.  I explained what I wished to do…not just for me…but for my team…a total of 8.  He explained that he would try to reach his top superiors who could “possibly make it happen.”


Enter NELSON TRINDADE, Paul Gauguin’s Hotel Director.  His attitude, “CAN DO!”

At 7 a.m. I received a call from Nelson Trindade, Paul Gauguin’s Director of Hotel Operations.  He not only explained how he was going to get our team to the Protestant Church on Taha’a in time to attend their 9:00 a.m. service, but he informed me that after the church service, he would personally pick us up at the church and guide us back to a waiting zodiac that would then transport us directly to the private island so we could experience “Motu Mahana” –their legendary barbecue and beach day as well.  Talk about MISSION POSSIBLE!

OUR TAHA’A SUNDAY…What an absolutely music infused, soul-enriching day…


We arrived at the church just as the services were about to begin and were directed towards the front of the chapel.  Immediately, the congregation began to sing, and the walls seemed to vibrate with the strength of their majestic a cappella voices—pure God endowed melodic vocal instruments as each section of the congregation took turns singing various hymns.  It was immediately clear to my ESCAPESEEKER team why I wanted them to have this extraordinary experience!  The only thing that would have improved our experience is if we could have accessed copies of their hymns in English so we could read along while they sang in their native Tahitian.  But then again, the spirit was felt so strongly as they sang with fervor and gusto, that it transcended any language barrier we might have felt.

Well, to our surprise, at the end of the service, several women were beckoned to collect the beautiful fresh floral garlands that hung at the podium and began to present one to each of us as they thanked us for attending their Sunday Service.  We entered as strangers, and left as friends.  These are the kinds of unexpected, spontaneous, mind-expanding native experiences, which make traveling thousands of miles by land and sea absolutely worth it!


 As we made our way down the street, who did we see approaching us?  Yes, you guessed it—Nelson Trindade!

 As promised, he   was there to guide us back to the waiting zodiac.


                                                    Nelson Trinidade, (center) even provided freshly cut coconut drinks to quench our thirst!


MOTU MAHANA…It’s Playtime, Island Paradise Style!

Paul Gauguin’s MOTU MAHANA is quickly becoming a tradition we strive to repeat year after year.  Where else can we safely  play in the water like children again?




PAUL-GAUGUIN-9Just when we think our day couldn’t get any more exciting, we receive an invitation to join Captain Ericksen and Nelson Trindade for a “Sail Away from Taha’a” as viewed from the Bridge!  We were also joined by passengers, Champion Freediver, Herbet Nitsch and his father, along with a film crew who is documenting Herbet’s return to free diving in French Polynesian waters.  Herbet, like myself, is also a guest speaker and is sharing his incredible free diving adventures as documented on film.  His unwavering passion for his extremely difficult sport is most inspiring.


                                                 Jim and Peg Jones enjoying a photo op with Herbet Nitsch.


                               Herbet isn’t the only one passionate about what he does as demonstrated by m/s Paul Gauguin’s Captain Ericksen.





Dining with Captain Ericksen and Hotel Director, Nelson Trindade was the perfect ending to our extraordinary day.  Who knew that when I picked up the phone at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, our ESCAPESEEKER day would evolve into such an event-filled unforgettable experience.  But then again, when you’re cruising under the m/s Paul Gauguin banner, nothing is ordinary, and no request is too big to fill! As  Trindade explained, “What sets us apart from all the other cruise lines has always been our crew, and how we go above and beyond to insure our guests are made to feel special, and have the best vacation they have ever experienced.”
“Can Do attitude is the key to our success,” he proudly adds.

Our team’s experience throughout our 11-night journey, whether on land or at sea,  is definitely a testament to the first class luxury cruise experience we were afforded!

Thank you m/s Paul Gauguin!

Here’s to Blissful, Endless ESCAPES…


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