Posts Tagged ‘Island Paradise’


Monday, August 5th, 2013

The ESCAPESEEKER Big Birthday Escape…

With Select Images by Ariane Bañon





7nt_TahitiSocietyIsl_high_0French Polynesia – Upon learning of a sudden opening in my schedule due to a change in our ESCAPESEEKER Global Odyssey assignment just three days after my 60th birthday, I knew there was one place on earth guaranteed to restore my youth,  rejuvenate my body, recharge my spirit, and enrich my soul all at once – FRENCH POLYNESIA!  Sometimes, only we can determine the best birthday gift to give ourselves.  And, after covering four continents and thousands and thousands of miles in two short months, I absolutely deserved a “birthday escape” so I booked a 7-night passage on board the luxurious m/s Paul Gauguin—often described as the “The ship with a soul.”  After all, a big birthday deserves a big celebration of life, of health, and for this grateful globetrotting ESCAPESEEKER, a voyage to a place  novelist, poets, and artists, describe as “the most dramatically beautiful place on earth.”  In other words, Tahitian Paradise. Truth be known, I must confess my friends are right. My love for Tahiti is nearing addiction status as they remind me, “Mel, you were just there at the beginning of 2013!” If you take a close look at the photograph below captured of me with my new friends I met on the Paul Gauguin’s January 2013 sailing– Lucy Miller and Sylvia Cheek jet-skiing at Bora Bora’s crystal clear, turquoise lagoon –it’s easier to understand why I’m so enraptured with the beauty of these Tahitian Islands and desire to return as often as I can! It’s even more reason why I’m qualified to guide you as you prepare your own VOYAGE TO PARADISE.


Yes, as the TV Travel Series Journalist of ESCAPESEEKER and logging in countless miles each month,  French Polynesia is where I go when I find myself needing a life’s transfusion. Thank goodness, I was able to book the last available seat on Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Papeete.  Tahiti’s gateway to her heavenly islands is a mere 8-hour nap from LAX! And, I’m happy to discover that many have taken my ESCAPESEEKER advice to fly Air Tahiti Nui so they can be guaranteed that their vacation can begin the minute they board their Tahiti flight and begin their  journey to paradise.

Jetting to Paradise...

After a delicious dinner, I closed my eyes to begin dreaming about my return to paradise, and before I knew it, we were already landing, 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, which meant we would be able to witness our first sunrise in Papeete!

 Papeete awakens…the sea is like glass…I could not wait for the first sign of dawn breaking…it’s like poetry in motion.

My personal formula for eliminating any signs of jet lag before it even begins to set in—walk it out!

After collecting my luggage I am whisked away by my favorite native driver, Greg who immediately delivers me to the InterContinental Tahiti located in Pepeete, a mere five-minute drive from the airport.  I always arrange a half-day hotel stay to give me and my body time to acclimate before I embark on the Paul Gauguin later in the afternoon.  This guarantees I’ll be refreshed and ready for the 7-night voyage to the Society Islands:  Raiatea, Taha’a Bora Bora, Moorea and back to Tahiti’s capital of Papeete. What’s my secret for combating jet lag and fatigue?  I walk the beautiful tropical grounds of the resort; I swim in its beautiful sand-bottom pool; and, sometimes, I top it off with a Spa treatment which definitely erases any last remaining symptoms of jet lag!

The ms/ Paul Gauguin’s retractable, on board water sports marina brings guests down to sea level, where they can hop aboard a windsurfer, enjoy SUP—Stand Up Paddle Board, launch a kayak, or embark on a Zodiac® for optional diving adventures.

Why choose the m/s Paul Gauguin? Ships are not created equal…

These days there are many cruise companies to choose from, and they all offer a buffet of itineraries to some of the most beautiful places on earth.  So, one has to ask, why choose the m/s Paul Gauguin?

  The m/s Paul Gauguin

For this seasoned cruiser and  ESCAPESEEKER,
“A Room with a View” is a major incentive to choose the m/s Paul Gauguin…


The m/s Paul Gauguin was designed specifically to sail the shallow seas of French Polynesia, visiting smaller ports that larger mega ships can’t reach.  The spacious suites and staterooms all offer ocean views, of which 70% have private balconies.  After all, with endless awe-inspiring vistas throughout its voyage, it would be a shame not to wake up to Tahiti’s glorious sunrise, or miss its mesmerizing sunsets because of a windowless “inside cabin.”  Rather, the m/s Paul Gauguin guarantees each guest, no matter what category of accommodation they book, access to borrowed landscape, in other words, “A room with a view.”


This MAGNIFICENT SUNRISE was captured while standing on my Stateroom balcony as we made our way towards the island of Raiatea!

For sea explorers, it just doesn’t get any easier…nor any more mesmerizing!

Personally, as an active water sports’ enthusiasts, I love that the m/s Paul Gauguin has an onboard watersports marina—yes, the ship’s team of expert dive masters departs right from the marina. I can go from my cabin straight to the waiting zodiac fully equipped for underwater exploration!  For scuba divers, it just doesn’t get any easier or more convenient.

Here are a few main reasons we love diving with the m/s Paul Gauguin Cruises' Diving Team on Moorea: 1) We know we're in great hands 2) The water temperature is well, perfect. 3) We get to say hello to our underwater friends. and 4) Because we can!

Paul Gauguin’s best kept secret…

Paul Gauguin's Best Kept Secret

After an active day of play and island exploration, those of us who have sailed with the Paul Gauguin before, quickly learn that its on board SPA maybe its best kept secret.  May I suggest you book early before everyone else on board discovers its team of “velvet healing hands” therapists, salon hairstylist and colorist are all better or equal to those 5-star Spas you frequent on land!

Exquisite dining combined with Polynesian hospitality…

Exquisite DiningLess I forget, there’s a choice of three open-seating dining venues with an expert culinary team ready to meet the expectations of even the most discerning palate. After all, you have to remember, you’re cruising the FRENCH Polynesian Islands.  Thus, you can expect a meñu offering of the highest caliber.

As a writer, my inspirations like my hunger may be triggered at all hours of the day and night.  But no worries.  The Paul Gauguin provides 24-hour room service.

There’s also always someone on duty to assist at all times, especially appreciated on those occasions when you run out of your stateroom without your key!

And, should you find yourself in need of one more swimsuit, or need to spruce up and accessorize that beautiful basic black dress for the evening, the Paul Gauguin’s own Boutique Stylists are skilled and ready to add glamour to your day or evening event.

Incomparable POLYNESIAN Hospitality…

The atmosphere aboard the entire ship exudes warmth, informality, and Polynesian hospitality for which the m/s Paul Gauguin has become world-renowned.  And with its beloved troupe of Gauguines—local Tahitians who serve as cruise staff, entertainers, and storytellers eager to share their native culture—add the special Polynesian incomparable spirit of Tahiti to every sailing. Other cruise vessels try to replicate what the Paul Gauguin has learned to do so well–establish a floating, caring community, thus earning its reputation of “The ship with a soul.”  It’s difficult to explain in words…but you’ll feel it the minute you step aboard.  With one crew member for every 1.5 guests, you’re assured the highest level of personal attention. I’ve never met a staff more dedicated to my comfort and well-being as gracefully expressed in countless thoughtful acts throughout the cruise. The way the maitre d’, Ivan Bolalin remembers  my name or how much I love their mushroom risotto! And, in the kind attention extended by Edward on the top deck where I like to enjoy my breakfast. This is his first cruise, but already he made special note that I only drink water with ice for breakfast, and has a full glass already waiting at my favorite breezy table, where I am able to take in the beautiful vistas as I dine, as well as apply Mother Nature’s technique of air drying my freshly shampooed hair!  You may be surprised to know that this extremely hard-working staff, who continually exude a joyful smile expects no gratuities!  Gratuities are included in the cruise fare, leaving you worry-free to just accept all the special tailor-made treatment a VIP like you deserves.

Gauguines love to share their culture...

Don’t just take my word for it.  Please permit me to share some of the heartfelt sentiments shared by several of the first time guests I met on my “birthday sailing.”  One thing you’ll discover about the Paul Gauguin—it’s so easy to find yourselves, like I did, making new friends with people from around the world, whom like you may also be celebrating monumental events in their lives, and have dreamt of one day setting foot on these heavenly islands! The world is full of friends just waiting to be met.  Perhaps I should rephrase that—there’s a ship full of new fun-loving, engaging friends just waiting to meet you!  Like and you and me, they’re all eager to celebrate what life has to offer!

CELEBRATE Life-long best friends, Kim Friedman and Tara Turner celebrate their premiere visit to French Polynesia with Cruise Director, Michael Shapiro.

In their own words…

“The service on board the m/s Paul Gauguin is out of this world.  It’s not easy getting up early in the morning and delivering the same superb service at noon and at dinner too.  They really get it!” ~ John and Kristen Kennedy, Brisbane, Australia

“The real thing is so much better than I ever envisioned.  On Bora Bora, the turquoise lagoon is more turquoise than any picture I’ve seen prior.  This reality needs no air-brushing!” ~ Carol Horner, Virginia Beach, USA

“The Aqua Safari excursion blew me away! The Paul Gauguin experience exceeded my expectations and left me in awe!”  ~ Kim Friedman,  Manhattan Beach, California.

“As a seasoned cruiser, I set my expectations high right from the start. And, the Paul Gauguin definitely met my expectations.” ~ Tara Turner, Orange County, California.

Personal Service to the max“Mel, I can’t believe the tremendous welcome we received at the St. Regis Bora Bora! Not only did the GM, Mike Schoonewagen greet us at the dock after sending his own personal boat to pick us up, but he also took time from his very full schedule to spend time with us.  I shall never forget our beautiful day at the St. Regis Beach.  It was the highlight of our trip! We’re definitely coming back!” ~ Lance Turner, Orange County, California



Best Beach Day Ever!

Pearly-White Beaches of St. Regis Bora Bora


St. Regis Bora Bora’s Lagoonarium

Follow us to ParadiseIf you wish to follow in our footsteps, simply click below, and before you know it, you’ll be sinking your toes in the pearly white, soft sands of French Polynesia too!   No matter your age, Tahiti appeals to everyone–both the youth and the youthful!

Perhaps you may wish to join our ESCAPESEEKER team on the m/s Paul Gauguin’s November 13th sailing to the Society Islands and the Tuamotus?  Oh yes, the only way I could escape solo was to promise my film crew they would get their turn at experiencing Paradise also.  My love and passion for French Polynesia is undeniably contagious! For more info, please feel free to contact me at:



And, remember, no matter where you travel, BE THE KINDEST PERSON YOU KNOW.

With love,

The ESCAPESEEKER My passion for Tahiti is never-ending!


Creator, Journalist Host, Executive Producer


The natives’ melodic harmony will remain with you…as if you’re still in their midst.  A very special “MAURURU” to all of the wonderful, enthusiastic, beautiful guests who participated in this ESCAPESEEKER story.  May you all be blessed with more unforgettable adventures…Until we meet again…

I wish you all SAFE TRAVELS!