Paul Gauguin Cruises takes its guests on a physical and culinary journey through the South Pacific when you sail with them on the high seas. Led by Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato, the kitchens of their three restaurants: Le Grill, Veranda and L’Etoile, evoke flavors inspired by the islands and the endless sea around them.
As a recent guest aboard their ship for a seven-day adventure to Tahiti and the Society Islands islands, I experienced every bit of food they offer. From French evenings at L‘Etoile to casual poolside fare at Le Grill, each space and menu was well thought out. I was even surprised at the freshness of the ingredients; a true challenge for most companies operating ships that have to constantly feed guests for a set duration. Paul Gauguin rises to the challenge.
Each day I tried a new restaurant, and settled on my favorites for dinner and lunch. I usually started my mornings at Veranda, which offers indoor and outdoor seating with panoramic views of whatever port you happen to be in. And, like clockwork, every morning the staff – my favorite server being Ernie – welcomed me with a big smile and a cappuccino. They remembered not only my name, but also my orders from the previous days. One cappuccino followed by a pot of green tea. Without even asking, this is what they delivered each day. I was amazed.
For lunch, I usually ate at Le Grill or Veranda again, but loved Le Grill for its outdoor ambiance and views from the top of the ship. Lunch changed daily with offerings like Asian-fusion fare, Italian, Greek/Mediterranean or American options. The variety was endless, but well-done as not to feel too random. In fact, my pet peeve is buffets that serve multiple cuisine types all mashed into one space. There’s no flow when this is the case. It’s not appetizing. But, Paul Gauguin stuck to their themes, and opted for varieties within that theme so that everyone could find something they liked.
I usually spent dinnertime at L’Etoile. It’s the more formal option. But, I loved it. Every night I had the same server, Jaypee, who was from the Philippines. Most of the wait staff aboard the Gauguin are from the Philippines, and their commitment to service is impeccable. L’Etoile usually offered three or four courses for dinner with a few options that included international fare layered with French undertones. You might find citrus glazed tuna tartare, fresh catch of the day, or filet mignon. Whatever your taste, there is always something to match it.
I must make a note that the hygiene, in terms of food, on the Paul Gauguin was fantastic. I was never displeased or uncomfortable with the way food was handled or served. This is of utmost importance in my book.