Paul Gauguin Cruises Soirée Tempts With South Pacific Charms

Vicky Lubyk, Director of Sales Canada, Paul Gauguin Cruises
Vicky Lubyk, Director of Sales Canada, Paul Gauguin Cruises

Ontario travel advisors enjoyed a perfect summer evening learning about the itineraries, the facilities and the Tahitian charms of the Paul Gauguin.

Mother nature is hosting a heatwave and it was just the excuse 50 hand-picked agents needed to put on their tropical cocktail garb and learn about Paul Gauguin, celebrating its 25th anniversary plying the turquoise seas of Tahiti and the South Pacific.

The venue was the cozy-yet-elegant Glenerin Inn in Mississauga – the third and final stop for the events, which included an evening in YUL on 30MAY and YVR on 17MAY.

Our host was the genial, knowledgeable and clearly fun Vicky Lubyk, Director of Sales/Canada for Paul Gauguin Cruises, joined by her colleagues Erica Barbour, BDM, Eastern Canada for Ponant (owners of the Paul Gauguin) and Olga Sebestova of Cruise Strategies, who rep Ponant in Canada.

“The 330 passenger Paul Gauguin was purpose-built to serve French Polynesia,” Lubyk explained to the group, “Which, with 118 islands covers an area the size of Europe – but has a land mass only totalling the size of PEI.”

Tahiti currently welcomes in one entire year the number of visitors Hawaii receives in just one week: so it’s a very different vibe – and clientele.

Erica Barbour, Ponant with Florianne Yeung of Expedia Cruises and Olga Sebestova of Cruise Strategies
L-R: Erica Barbour, PONANT with Florianne Yeung of Expedia Cruises and Olga Sebestova of Cruise Strategies

It’s clear the Paul Gauguin team knows what its clientele likes (and needs) and is proud to provide a combination of “all-inclusive” sailing (complete with top-shelf liquor brands; open dining “where you want, when you want, with who you want”; shorts-and-sandals by day, and no-tie-at-night please gents; included non-motorized watersports; and guest lectures ranging  from marine biology to wine, food to anthropology, depending on the itinerary). Many of the guest services and much of the entertainment is provided by Polynesians, renowned for their warmth and hospitality.

Cruises comprise 7, 10, 11, and 14 night itineraries with the 7 day being the most popular, Lubyk said. July, August and December sailings include programs for kids at no surcharge.

Prices start at US$3,350 (Canadians receive at 5% discount) with prices going up as the ship fills. Worth noting is that 2023 is 70% sold out; while 2024 is already 40% sold. And there are lots of “no single supplement” promotions – sure to appeal to that growing market of solo, predominantly female, clients.

Karol Farb (left) and Sharon Bizouati (right) of YYZ Travel with Tanveer Quereshi of Marlin Travel
Karol Farb (left) and Sharon Bizouati (right) of YYZ Travel with Tanveer Quereshi of Marlin Travel

Retailers are clearly an important part of the marketing mix for Paul Gauguin, with 50% agent rates confirmed 35 to 45 days out. Upon passing the Pearl Partners program, an approximately 2-hour self-training session, agents receive advance notice on promotions and an additional 5% (i.e. 55% discounts) on personal travel.

Lubyk’s colleague, Erica Barbour from Ponant (offering 12 luxury expedition vessels with 400 departures worldwide and some 450 ports of call), also spoke to the group. “We have something truly for everyone,” as she put it. “We cover the globe: the amazing, exotic and remote.” Ponant ships range from 16 to 123 staterooms, including 6 “expedition” ships with max 180 pax. Agents can learn more at www.ponantacademy.com.

To round out the evening, author and travel industry expert Geraldine Ree, author of the book “10X My Travel Business”, shared with the crowd her ideas on how to work smarter, better and happier as a travel advisor. As you can imagine, the audience was all ears.

If you’d like to learn more about Paul Gauguin and escape to French Polynesia for a few minutes, have a look at their videos. You may want to pack your suitcase!

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