Planned activities and events to enjoy during your trip.

2020 South Pacific Cruise to Totality Overview

Day 1 Saturday December 5 Papeete, Tahiti 23:00
Day 2 Sunday December 6 Taha'a - private islet - Bora Bora
Day 3 Monday December 7 Bora Bora
Day 4 Tuesday December 8 At Sea
Day 5 Wednesday December 9 At Sea
Day 6 Thursday December 10 Hiva Oa - Atuona
Day 7 Friday December 11 Nuku Hiva
Day 8 Saturday December 12 At Sea
Day 9 Sunday December 13 At Sea
Day 10 Monday December 14 Total Solar Eclipse at sea – approx. 10° 52’ South / 126° 05’ West
Day 11 Tuesday December 15 At Sea
Day 12 Wednesday December 16 At Sea
Day 13 Thursday December 17 Fakarava
Day 14 Friday December 18 Moorea - Papeete
Day 15 Saturday December 19 Disembark 09:30

Important:TravelQuest, working with its partners, makes every effort to follow the published itinerary. However, please keep in mind that it is subject to change depending on weather and other local conditions.

Level 1 – Easy: short walks over mostly level terrain, with conditions that will be unchallenging for the average traveler. (Please note that choosing certain optional shore excursions will elevate this trip level.)
At TravelQuest we want to be sure you find the trip that best suits your interests and level of fitness.


Day 1 - Saturday, December 5, 2020Dinner

Arrive Papeete, Tahiti


Among the stunning islands of French Polynesia, a collection of more than 1,800 volcanic atolls strewn across the South Pacific, the largest and most renowned is Tahiti, “Queen of the Pacific” – and you’ll soon see why that royal title is so well deserved. Blending spectacular natural beauty with a fascinating history, it’s the kind of exotic locale that immediately comes to mind when you hear “island paradise.”

Landing at Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport (code: PPT), you can take a taxi directly to the cruise terminal pier and our waiting ship, the M/S Paul Gauguin. Embarkation is scheduled from 15:00 (3:00 pm), and we sail at 23:00 (11:00 pm).

Overnight: M/S Paul Gauguin (14 nights)

Day 2 – Sunday, December 6, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Taha’a – private islet – Bora Bora

Choose among three fascinating shore excursions today – or simply relax on our own private islet, Motu Mahana, where you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and unwinding on the beach with a drink from the floating bar. Add in a delicious seaside barbecue of local specialties, plus traditional Polynesian music and crafts presented by Les Gauguines, and you have the perfect first day of South Pacific cruising. We arrive in Bora Bora late in the evening.

Day 3 – Monday, December 7, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Bora Bora

A longstanding dream destination among seasoned adventurers, Bora Bora, with its jungle-clad peaks, hidden lagoons and white sand beaches, seems to have been created for photography. Among the iconic natural features you’ll want to capture is Mount Otemanu, whose forested slopes rise steeply from the shore. As for the island’s roughly 4,000 inhabitants, they have a gracious, laid-back spirit that will inspire you to relax and take in all of that unsurpassed beauty.

Days 4–5 – Tuesday & Wednesday, December 8-9, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

At Sea

As we sail the South Pacific, the breathtaking vistas are matched only by the sense of peace that comes in realizing how far you are from the usual pressures and cares. When not just relaxing, taking in the ocean views and enjoying our ship’s many amenities, you can gain new insights into astronomy and Polynesian culture through our experts’ daily presentations.

Day 6 - Thursday, December 10, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Hiva Oa - Atuona

High above the roar of the Pacific surf, the mountains of Hiva Oa are almost perpetually shrouded in mist. This is the largest and most fertile island in the southern Marquesas – a place of deep valleys, thick rainforest and plateaus covered in exotic flora and lush vegetation. The main town, Atuona, is a favorite port of call for yachters dropping anchor in Traitors Bay. Paul Gauguin, who captured many scenes of village life in his paintings, lived here in his final years and is buried nearby.

Day 7 – Friday, December 11, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Nuku Hiva

A charming seafront village, Taiohae is the administrative and economic center of the Marquesas and your gateway to beautiful Nuku Hiva, “The Mystic Island,” with its lush valleys, cascading waterfalls and ancient ruins above surreal blue bays.

Days 8–9 – Saturday & Sunday, December 12 & 13, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

At Sea

Look forward to more peaceful sailing across the glittering Pacific, enjoying the Paul Gauguin’s three dining venues, extensive spa facilities and five-star service. Once again, our onboard experts share their knowledge of the region and the astronomical highlights of the vast Southern sky.
Day 10 – Monday, December 14, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Sunrise Total Solar Eclipse at Sea – approx. 10° 52’ South / 126° 05’ West

What to Expect on Eclipse Day 2020

by Eclipse Meteorologist Jay Anderson

During the sunrise total solar eclipse on December 14, 2020, the Moon’s shadow will mainly pass over the Pacific Ocean – including a point north of the untamed beauty of the Marquesas Islands. The Sun will actually rise with a broad notch missing from its disk, as the partial phases of the eclipse will have begun 20 minutes before the solar disk crests the horizon. Just over 33 minutes later, the Moon will cover the whole of the solar surface and totality will begin. As darkness descends, Mercury will hang just 3 degrees above the Sun while brilliant Venus shines from a 30 degrees altitude. The eclipse is a short one—about 38 seconds—just enough time to complete photographs and enjoy a view of this spectacle and its planetary attendants.

Short eclipses showcase the Sun’s chromosphere by giving the dark Moon a brilliant red border that stretches most of the way around the lunar limb. The chromosphere is the region where the Sun feeds energy into the corona—a region that is still a bit of a mystery. Longer eclipses show the chromosphere for only a few seconds at the start and end of totality, but for this one, it should be visible for the whole of the 38 seconds.

Low-level eclipses also come with a marvelous shadow stretching from the Sun – an ephemeral connection between the observer and the solar system. Time-lapse video will show the black circle of the eclipsed Sun moving across the width of the shadow during totality, a spectacle that is not seen at eclipses where the Sun is higher in the sky.

One of the big questions about low-altitude eclipses is the effect of clouds along the horizon. The Pacific viewing site for this eclipse has been chosen to take advantage of the low cloudiness associated with the South Pacific anticyclone (high-pressure area) that lingers just north of the shadow track. It’s a good spot: analysis of the past 13 years of satellite data shows that in 8 of them the eclipse would have been visible from the viewing site, and three more would require a movement of 10 miles or thereabouts. Only two of the thirteen had extensive cloudiness that would probably have clouded out the spectacle.

Visualization by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio on September 9, 2015

Note: It is important to acknowledge that seeing the solar eclipse is weather dependent, and TravelQuest can make no guarantees that the weather will cooperate.

Days 11–12 – Tuesday & Wednesday, December 15-16, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

At Sea

There’s more to luxury than being pampered; it’s having the freedom to do whatever you wish – or opt to do nothing at all. For the next two days and nights, you can lounge poolside, relax in the spa, finally dig into that book you’ve been wanting to read, maybe even expand your knowledge in one of our fascinating expert talks, or just watch the seabirds diving and spiraling in our wake. You choose…

Day 13 - Thursday, December 17, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner


An unspoiled atoll in the western part of the Tuamotu group, Fakarava has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to protect the many rare species that live there, both above and under the water. During your visit, blend nature hikes with cultural discoveries as you explore charming villages, ancient temples and a historic missionary church constructed entirely from coral.

Day 14 - Friday, December 18, 2020Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Moorea – Papeete

Moorea, often compared to James Michener’s mythical Bali Hai, appears on the horizon like a lost island from some classic fantasy novel, its volcanic peaks rising like a line of broken teeth above the palm-lined beaches of Cook’s and Opunohu bays. And beneath the waves, in waters justly celebrated by divers, you’ll encounter an even more magical world of dolphins, tuna, sharks (from a safe distance) and schools of iridescent fish.

Day 15 - Saturday, December 19, 2020Breakfast


After breakfast, head ashore for travels onward from Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport.