RSSC Paul Gauguin Cruising Review

RSSC - Regent Seven Seas, Formally Radisson Seven Seas Cruises

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Paul Gauguin

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Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, French Polynesia

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Papeete, Tahiti French Polynesia

Embarkation Saturday, January 11, 2003
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Los Angeles
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Bora Bora
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Moorea
Papeete

Hilton Pre-Cruise

After the included breakfast buffet in the Garden Cafe, I packed my carry-on and proceeded early to the airport for check-in. Last night I had asked the Radisson representative about upgrades, and she thought it was $1,200 to get to what Air Tahiti Nui calls "business class." She recommended that I get to the airport early, since the Air Tahiti ticketing area opened around 9:45am.

Los Angeles Airport Check-in
Upgrade to Business Class

After arriving at the Bradley International Terminal, I proceeded to the A section of the ticketing concourse. Since I did not have any checked baggage, I went to the short line and immediately inquired about space-available business-class. I was in luck, and got the last available seat.

The cost, $600. Not bad compared to the "normal" upgrade which the ticketing agent said was $1,600 (each way). Along with the business class upgrade, you get a complimentary pass for the Quantas VIP lounge on the 5th floor.

Quantas VIP Lounge
Workspace

The Quantas lounge is quite nice. There are a number of living-room like comfortable chairs, along with a variety of AT&T desk phones (can use as computer modem), a open bar with the standard brands of liqour, and a small snack bar with fruits and pastries.

I immediately hooked up my iBook to get it charged and do some work, while simultaneously activating the wireless Airport card and MacStumbler to see if there were any open networks for me to gain internet access. There was only one network sensed, which was open, but the signal was too weak to connect.

Flight to Tahiti

Wine List

Passengers are bussed to a remote gate, where we boarded a Airbus 340-200. The back end of the plane was very crowded, and the business class had extravagant amounts of room. From the start of the hot towels and champagne, I realized that upgrading to business class was the right thing to do. Throughout the eight hour flight, we were served over ten courses of food, from appetizers to entree's. The service was good, but it seemed as though the fully booked business class (I got the last seat up front) was a bit demanding at times for the stewards.

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Air Tahiti Nui Website

Business Class

Air Tahiti Business Class Menu

The best part of business class is the room. The huge chairs featured electric recline (to almost fully horizontal) along with automatic foot rests which appear from nowhere. A "overnight" kit is also supplied with such accouterments as socks, toothpaste/toothbrush, earplugs etc. The sound level in the Airbus was quite low, and not a bother. I've heard of people buying those noise-canceling headsets which are quite unnecessary here.

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Life at 38,000 Feet
Long Flight

For most of the flight we were at 38,000 feet, doing 530 mph (groundspeed) while the outside air temperature was hovering around -45 degrees F. During some clear air turbulence, I noticed that the outside temperature actually dropped to -55 deg. F.

The flight itself departed LAX at 1:30 (was 30 minutes late), and took 8.5 hours. We arrived at Tahiti around 7:30pm local time, but not before we saw a beautiful South Pacific sunset from 38,000 feet.

Hassle Free Disembarkation

Cruise Itinerary

The true beauty of traveling without luggage (only carry-ons) is expediency. I grabbed my carry-on, waited in line for 10 minutes for customs, then proceeded directly to the Radisson Cruise marked bus. I was the first person through. The bus waited 30 minutes, and we finally got to the ship around 8:30pm. After clearing carry-ons through a Xray machine, and getting a photo taken for ID, you are given a magnetic swipe card for your room "key."

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Cabin 707 C Class

Stateroom

I was escorted to my 7th deck cabin, room 707. Upon entering, it looked very spacious and had that compact elegance which I found so appealing on the Radisson Diamond. A carved Tiki statue greeted me, along with a beautiful arrangement of orchids, and a bottle of champagne (chilled to perfection). The bathroom is marble tiled, along with some beautiful flower petals arranged as a welcoming. The cabin had plenty of storage space for two people, and the desk had both 110 V and 220 V outlets. (Great for those with digital cameras, notebook computers, DV Cameras, and other devices which need power. The in-cabin TV had a built-in VCR player, and had front mounted jacks for your digital camera, or computer. The balcony was compact, yet large enough for a small table and chairs.

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Dinner

Newsletter Front - Welcome Aboard

I did not even have time to unpack when I realized that they stopped serving dinners at 9:30pm. I rushed to the dining room and had a pleasant dinner with 6 other people. The great thing about cruises is that you can have dinner with whomever you wish, whenever you wish, or not at all. Every day you're given a ship newsletter which explains dining room hours, the next port of call and a list of activities.

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Departure

Newsletter Back - Welcome Aboard

While we were finishing up dining, the cast-off party was under way on deck 8 (pool deck). By the time we finished dinner and got up there, we had missed all the introductions to the staff and crew, but enjoyed the small band playing along with the party drinks. Shortly thereafter, I retired to the Connoisseurs Club for a martini with my two new friends, Shawn and Rosemary from Houston, Texas. After the castaway party, I think most people most have retired for the evening, because there were no passengers to be found after that.

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Recommendations

Business Class

I highly recommend that you get to Tahiti, the day before the cruise, for time to adjust to the time difference, and time to enjoy your embarkation on the ship. It makes a big difference if you are not rushed. After all, it is a vacation.

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Ship Enroute

The ship departed the docks at Papatee around 10:15pm, for Raiatea. The ship does have a pronounced roll to it (unlike the Radisson Diamond). I find this roll (however slight) very comforting, and very harmonic with the ocean around the ship. While some people may find it a bit much, I think that it's relaxing, and what ocean voyaging is all about.

Additional Photographs: Embarkation

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Related Information

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Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, French Polynesia
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