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LUXURY CRUISE: m/v Tere Moana
Style: Classy, civilised, intimate-scale ambience of a private motor yacht.
Scene: A seven-day voyage from the birthplace of Western civilisation to the heart of the Byzantine Empire, cruising through the Greek Islands from Piraeus to Istanbul.
Seen on Deck: Fit, fabulous, forty and fifty year-olds, some accompanied by their admirably-polite preppie or college freshmen children - mostly from the US East Coast and Canada. Upper-crust, ivy-leaguers who do yacht club casual effortlessly.

 

Who wouldn't  want to put small ship, the Polynesian beauty Tere Moana of Paul Gauguin cruises in their pocket? After a seven-day cruise through the Greek Islands from Piraeus to Istanbul, she becomes like a pet. Adorable. Of course you can't put either in your pocket.
Although her vital statistics are essentially boutique, she still carries 88 guests and a crew of 62- a better than 1.15 crew-to-guest ratio. And it shows, the service could hardly come better - no doubt one of the reasons Travel & Leisure readers voted Paul Gauguin Cruises  'Top Small-Ship Cruise Line' in its 2014 World's Best Awards along with Top Small Ship Cruise Line for Families for the second year in a row.
tere moana
tere moana
le salon, tere moana
sailing out of priaeus
letoile on tere moana
paul gauguin moana
dining aboard tere moana
Whereas bigger sister the 332 guest Paul Gauguin's itineraries focus on Tahiti, French Polynesia and the South Pacific, Tere Moana's itineraries are predominantly European, Latin American and the Caribbean. She also does a full season of three month charters - mostly for luxury travel company Tauck, and prestigious US university, museum and cultural groups.
It wasn't too hard to find Moana at the busy port of Piraeus. We just had to look for something small. And there she was, with her gleaming white hull and aqua blue 'racing stripe' defining her sleek, bodyline. She is after all French, born in France at St Malo. At 3,504 tons, a length of 330ft X 46 and a draft of 11.5ft, maximum speed 14 knots, and 5 passenger decks, she is equally equipped to cruise intimate destinations such as the Greek Islands where she slinks easily in and out of ports as well as crossing the Atlantic. 
Sailing out of Piraeus on as clear a day as one could wish for, the late afternoon light bathed the peninsula in a warm glow, giving form to Greece's familiar white-washed buildings, and heightening the landforms beyond. Our itinerary would include the sacred island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo; captivating Mykonos-renowned for its celebrity hedonistic lifestyle; the spectacular volcanic island Santorini; historic Rhodes, and Patmos - often described as the Jerusalem of the Aegean, and finally, magnificent Istanbul.   
It was time to go below and freshen-up for dinner. There are no formal dress-up occasions. Neither jackets or ties are required. Yacht club casual is the way to go. But that doesn't mean you won't want to wear those witty little designer numbers you had packed especially for the cruise. Just leave the glitz behind. This is not mass-market cruising.
Fancy a martini? Don't mind if I do. Le Salon is always a-buzz with chatter, pleasing piano-stylings and daily activity briefings regarding shore excursions and tender timetables. The company's shore excursions offer comprehensive experiences of the destinations. (These are not included in the fare). Most guests have already done their homework and choose either the tailor- made excursions, or create their own.
There are no rigid dining hours or fixed seating at either of the two restaurants, L'Étoile and The Verandah.  Two star Michelin chef, Jean Paul Vigato, proprietor of Apicius in Paris and consultant chef to Paul Gauguin Cruises has created a series of memorable menus for Moana. Some of his delectable offerings include:  Steamed bass with white truffle sabayon and mushroom compote; Filet of angus beef served over compote of beef cheek lacquered with red wine sauce; Tarte fine of tomato confit with grilled shrimps and herbs. He also turns out some dreamy desserts.
 
Ultimate Luxury:  An envelope from one's loved one containing a ticket for another cruise on Moana.
Most Indulgent Moment: Drowsing on a chaise in a private spot on Deck Six watching the island-life.
Insider Secrets: Some Tahitian black pearl jewellery can be found in Le Boutique.

The Little Things: The little things: The Juice Bar for design your own, fresh-squeezed juices created before your eyes.

Junior Luxies: No baby sitting or supervised kids' activities, but they are welcome in family groups. Kids menus are available. Some staterooms can accommodate 3 persons of a family.
Luxury Cruise Link: www.pgcruises.com/
Tere Moana has 45 outside cabins, 8 with balconies. Others feature large picture windows. There is a small library with internet, and WiFi hotspots can be found throughout the ship. Moana also has a  spa, pool, and retractable watersports marina for kayaks & windsurfers.
Maggy Oehlbeck, 4/9/14
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