I will make this brief since Karen Jones wrote a review on a 2006 cruse and I agree with that review. The Paul Gaughin is a small ship (320 passengers and 214 crew). That should tell you something about the service -- it could not have been better. This is the finest cruise we have ever been on and it is a must-do for anyone who enjoys luxury cruising. First, we never waited in line anywhere for anything. When we arrived at the ship on a bus from our hotel, we stepped off the bus, pointed out our luggage, walked up the gangplank and were led by a hostess to the registration area. It took 2 minutes to check in and we were immediately led to our cabin. The luggage arrived in less than 10 minutes.
They have 3 restaurants. The Grill on the 8th deck is not up to the usual Regent standards and I would not eat there. We ate in the main dining room three times for dinner and the other 7 nights ate in the smaller specialty restaurant. Although you needed reservations for this dining room and they did fill up most nights, we usually made the reservations the night before and twice at lunch the same day that we went to dinner there. We never waited even 2 minutes when we showed up for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food was always excellent and the service was outstanding.
This ship has its own tenders and each of the two hold 100+ people. We also found none ever filled to capacity so we also never had to wait for another tender when we wanted to go ashore.
We stayed at the Intercontinental (beautiful resort) and we spoke to no other people who stayed elsewhere that were particularly impressed with their hotels. By the way, the specialty restaurant at the Intercontinental, which is in a "grass hut" perched over the water, is the best restaurant in Tahiti and one of the best we've eaten at anywhere in the world. However, it is expensive. We would recommend not spending additional time in Tahiti as it seemed to us just another bustling town with not too much to offer.
Karen commented on the band and mentioned that she had heard that the prior band, Siglo, was outstanding. Well she heard right. They are back and they told us they are under a "long term contract." Their lead guitarist doesn't even know how good he is -- should be with a top name band. They play hits from the 60s to the 90s but are equally at home playing backround "island" music for the Tahitian dancers.
There is one shore excursion we would recommend as a must-do. It is snorkeling on the Island of Moorea (this is the closest island to Tahiti and can be seen easily from Tahiti). You will make one stop where you not only will be in 3-4 feet of water with plenty of large rays (and be able to hold and feed them), but at the same stop there is a drop-off into 9-15 feet of water. There you will swim with sharks up to 8-9 feet in length so close you could touch them. These sharks are in the wild but used to people and are "well fed." It is amazing to be so close to such majestic animals.
July is certainly the best month of the year to take this cruise. You will typically find the weather is fantastic and the water is calm. We looked at the weather report before we went and I thought it was a misprint. The 10-day forecast caled for the high every day of 84 or 85 degrees and the low of 73 to 75 degrees, with no rain. Well, the high every single day of the 10-day cruise was 84 or 85 and the low was 73 to 75. They were wrong on the rain -- we did have a 1/2 hour shower one day and about 3 hours of rain early one morning as we were arriving at one port.
These cruises fill up quickly so you'll have to book well in advance. I would recommend up to a year in advance if you want to go in July.