Designed, built and decorated to sail year-round in the romantic South Pacific, the cozy, 332-passenger Paul Gaugin offers an air of tropical festivity amid cultured surroundings. Dining is restaurant-style, the staff is superb, and the ship is highly inclusive (cocktails and other beverages are included in cruise fares). But it's the ship's remote and lush island destinations that really turn up the notch on the romantic nature of the trip.
Sweet Digs: You know this is a ship intended for couples when most cabins come with a queen-sized bed and only a limited number can be split apart into twins. Consistent with the decor around the ship, cabins are elegant and tropically inspired; when we embarked, our stewardess had showered the bathroom sink with red rose petals. Definitely book ahead so you can nab a balcony cabin. It's not a trip to the South Pacific if you're not out on your balcony, savoring coffee, as Bora Bora pulls into view. And just when life onboard couldn't be any better, suites and category A and B veranda staterooms feature butler service.
Onboard Romance: Dance cheek to cheek with your honey to the tunes of a chanteuse in the La Palette Lounge, or gaze at the sea or stars from the lounge's top-of-ship vantage point.
Dinner for Two: For such a small ship, the choice of restaurants is superb. L'Etoile, which offers French cuisine accented with Polynesian touches, serves as the main venue. Couples will appreciate plentiful tables for two and an attentive waitstaff that will keep your glasses filled with house wines and nonalcoholic beverages (included in your fare). Two casual venues offer indoor and al fresco dining.
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