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South Pacific Cruise to Totality

December 5 – 19, 2020

South Pacific Cruise to Totality

Tour Overview

  • A truly unique and exclusive total solar eclipse cruise experience
  • Enjoy 15 days of five-star luxury aboard the privately chartered, 332-passenger M/S Paul Gauguin – sailing December 5-19, 2020
  • Stand in the Moon’s shadow for 38 seconds during the December 14 sunrise total eclipse of the Sun
  • Discover South Pacific gems including Fakarava, Bora Bora and Moorea, plus the special opportunity to experience the untamed beauty of the Marquesas Islands on the islands of Nuka Hiva and Hiva Oa
  • Gain new insights into astronomy and Polynesian culture through a rich program of shipboard lectures presented each day at sea

In our never-ending search for the best total solar eclipse experiences, TravelQuest journeys to the ends of the Earth. And if the eclipse track crosses over the 70 percent of our planet that’s covered in water, we’ll even charter a small, nimble ship that can get us exactly where we need to be: not that there’s ever just one viewing spot along the path of the Moon’s shadow. There will always be other places to observe the classic features of totality – the corona, Baily’s beads, the diamond rings and more – maybe even for a longer time. But for us, that’s not what defines a great eclipse journey. Especially when there’s a chance to witness a brief but extraordinary phenomenon you’d rarely experience anywhere else.

This was the inspiration behind our December 2020 adventure, South Pacific Cruise to Totality. Imagine waking before dawn and strolling out on deck just as the first glow of the Sun appears along the ocean’s distant edge. Above the glow, Venus is blazing away, heralding Sol’s imminent arrival. What you see next, though, is not the usual flaming disc but the oddest sunrise you may ever witness – a brilliant orb, emerging from the sea, with a bite taken out of it. Soon the rising Sun is in full eclipse, a fiery red ring around a disc of solid black. Totality is fleeting, just over half a minute, as you stand in silence – feeling the ship roll gently in the vast expanse of sea while you gaze, awe-struck, into the vast expanse of the heavens – the purity of those moments will stay with you forever.

Creative Curiosity

At the heart of this once-in-a-lifetime trip is a simple concept: explore the crystal lagoons and jungle-covered peaks of remote Polynesian archipelagos, keeping one eye on the heavens while experiencing a spectacular taste of paradise right here on Earth.

On December 5, 2020, join us as we set sail for 15 days aboard our privately chartered cruise ship, the 330-passenger M/S Paul Gauguin – named for the post-Impressionist painter who traveled to French Polynesia at the turn of the 20th century and was inspired to create some of his most renowned masterpieces. In the same spirit of creative curiosity, you and a small group of TravelQuest guests will visit the Marquesas Islands and many of Gauguin’s other favorite haunts, discovering the rich culture and warm hospitality that have led so many travelers since to conclude that Polynesia offers the ultimate escape from the ordinary. And then on December 14, you’ll rise with the Sun to witness a spectacle that few will ever see – all the more memorable for being so fleeting.

A Sunrise Total Eclipse

Photo by Rick Fienberg

The viewing point we’ve identified just north of the Marquesas will place us near the beginning of the eclipse track, with a strong likelihood of cloud-free skies, thanks to the high-pressure zones that typically linger in this region toward the end of the year. As dawn breaks, you’ll first see an oddly shaped Sun, already in partial eclipse, along the ocean’s perimeter. A short while later, after lengthy displays of Baily’s beads and the diamond ring, the Moon will cover the Sun’s face, its silhouette crowned with a pearl-white corona and ringed by the ruby-red chromosphere (which, in contrast to longer eclipses, will be visible for the duration of totality).

In the surrounding darkness, you’ll see Mercury shining brightly close by, and Venus a little higher above the horizon. After 38 seconds of chromosphere, prominences and coronal streamers – with time to shoot a sequence of magical photos – you’ll observe another long-lasting diamond ring and the wide arc of Baily’s beads as daylight returns. And because of the Sun’s low altitude relative to the horizon, you should have ideal views of the lunar shadow approaching and receding, and perhaps even a chance to watch shadow bands ripple across the ship’s white superstructure.

Don’t Miss the Boat!

This is your opportunity to experience the ultimate in relaxation while discovering pristine tropical sanctuaries, fascinating Polynesian culture and the elusive beauty of a sunrise total eclipse at sea.

Our private cruise is bound to sell out, so make your stateroom selection today – and join us for an unforgettable adventure.

2020 South Pacific Cruise to Totality Overview

Day 1 Saturday December 5 Papeete, Tahiti
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.

M/S Paul Gauguin – Welcome Aboard!

Technical Specifications

  • Most luxurious ship sailing out of Tahiti on a year-round basis
  • Only 332 passengers, with a crew-to-guest ratio of 1 to 1.5
  • Overall length: 513 ft (156.5 m)
  • Passenger decks: 7
  • Shipyard: Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Saint Nazaire, France
  • Gross tonnage: 19,200 tons
  • Cruising speed: 18 knots
  • Ship’s registry: Bahamas
  • Propulsion system: diesel electric
  • Planned dry-dock renovation prior to our cruise: May 2020

M/S Paul Gauguin was designed specifically to sail the shallow bays of Polynesia, visiting small ports that larger ships can’t reach and blending naturally into the stunning beauty of the islands. Life onboard celebrates the warm, informal spirit of Polynesian culture while delivering five-star service, comfort and luxury. Spacious suites and staterooms, an onboard watersports marina, a choice of three open-seating dining venues and a relaxing spa are among the vessel’s many amenities. And then there are Les Gauguines, a troupe of Tahitians who serve as cruise staff, entertainers and storytellers, adding a unique dimension to every cruise.

  • Paul Gauguin Cruises was voted “#1 Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line” by readers in Travel + Leisure’s 2017 World’s Best Awards.
  • Condé Nast Traveler has recognized Paul Gauguin Cruises on its “Top Small Ships” list for 17 years in a row.
  • The M/S Paul Gauguin has the longest continuous sailing record of any luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific.


Suites and Staterooms

All ocean-view staterooms and suites – more than two-thirds with private balconies – feature independent temperature controls, queen-size beds (a small number offer twin beds), bathrooms with full-size tubs and showers, televisions, CD/DVD players, refrigerators stocked with soft drinks, safes to secure valuables – plus hair dryers, robes and more. The ship has one wheelchair-accessible stateroom, and a few staterooms can accommodate up to three guests.


Superior-quality service is a hallmark of the M/S Paul Gauguin, and you see it as soon as you step aboard. With one crewmember for every 1.5 guests, you’re assured the highest level of personal attention. The staff’s dedication to your comfort and well-being is expressed in a hundred thoughtful acts: the maitre d’ who remembers your name and which table you prefer; the stewardess who places a perfectly ripened mango in your fruit basket; and the extra personal attention from the dive master if you participate in the onboard scuba program. And all of this with no expectation of gratuities – they’re included in your cruise fare.


  • Beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffee and tea served throughout the ship.
  • Onboard dive and lecture programs.
  • Two elegant restaurants and one pool-side grill, all with open-seating dining.
  • Vegetarian and wellness-focused meal selections, with special dietary menus upon request.
  • 24-hour room service and in-room dining.
  • Internet Wi-Fi access throughout your entire cruise.
  • In-room movie channels and movies available.
  • All onboard gratuities.


24-Hour Room Service
Complimentary 24-hour room service is available. During normal dining hours, you may also order from L’Etoile restaurant and enjoy dinner in your suite.

Butler Service
For guests who appreciate an enhanced level of personalized service – and are traveling in category B accommodations or higher – butler service is a welcome and indispensable perquisite. Our butlers can assist with your arrival onboard by unpacking luggage, arranging for your clothes to be pressed and making reservations at the spa or one of the ship’s restaurants. As for your expeditions ashore, a butler can arrange for a private car or make lunch reservations at the restaurant of your choice. Celebrating a special occasion? Have your butler arrange a private cocktail party. These highly skilled specialists can do it all – quickly, competently and without fuss.

Laundry, Dry Cleaning and Pressing Services
Onboard laundry and valet services, including pressing, are available with charge and can be arranged through your stewardess for same-day service. Guests who take advantage of our butler service receive complimentary pressing of any items to be worn the first evening onboard.

Complimentary Internet Wi-Fi access is included in the cost of your eclipse cruise aboard the M/S Paul Gauguin. You can also make telephone calls directly from your suite or stateroom. There are nine computers and a printer onboard, and fax messages can be sent and received via the reception desk.

Medical Services
The ship’s Medical Center is designed to provide care for temporary illnesses and accidents. A licensed and registered doctor and nurse are on 24-hour call for professional and emergency services, which are available at customary charges.

Watersports Marina, Snorkeling and Scuba

Watersports are a highlight of the Polynesian experience, and the M/S Paul Gauguin is designed to take full advantage, offering unique access to intriguing ports and unrivaled adventures. The ship’s small footprint means it can navigate lagoons that larger ships would never dare to enter. And the retractable onboard watersports marina brings you down to sea level, where you can hop aboard a windsurfer, launch a kayak, try water-skiing, or take a Zodiac on one of our optional scuba-diving adventures.

Diving into the crystal-clear waters, you’ll come face to face with a colorful parade of marine life, from magnificent parrotfish and clownfish to stately sea turtles. And even if you’ve never tried diving before, you can take advantage of onboard lessons. The M/S Paul Gauguin is the only luxury ship in French Polynesia that offers PADI certification onboard for novice scuba divers. The ship has classes for all levels, from snorkeling to advanced scuba-diving techniques, supervised by a staff of PADI dive masters. For the convenience of guests, all necessary equipment, including an air compressor to refill scuba tanks, is onboard.

Pricing & Terms

Prices are per person in US Dollars based on the number of people in a room.

Per person, Double Occupancy

Porthole Stateroom $ 9,495 $ 8,071
Window Stateroom $ 9,995 $ 8,496
Balcony Stateroom $ 12,695 $ 10,791
Balcony Stateroom $ 13,095 $ 11,131
Veranda Stateroom $ 15,795 $ 13,426
Veranda Suite $ 18,895 $ 16,061
Grand Suite $ 23,795 $ 20,226
Owner's Suite $ 24,795 $ 21,076

Additional Fees (subject to change): $295 per person Port, Handling and Security Fees

IMPORTANT: All tour prices, taxes and airfares quoted in this brochure are based on tariffs and costs that were in effect at the time of publication. Consequently, prices herein are subject to change. Due to fluctuations in global oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee. You will be advised of details and costs prior to departure.

Single and Triple Occupancy

A very limited number of guaranteed single accommodations are available in Category E and F at 150% of the double occupancy rate. Single occupancy in all other categories are 200% of the double occupancy rate. A third person may be added to a double occupancy cabin in most categories, with the third person paying 50% of the double occupancy cruise fare.

Room Sharing Program

If you are traveling solo, you can realize significant savings by taking advantage of TravelQuest’s Room Sharing Program, which matches travelers of the same gender so they can share twin-bedded accommodations. Although we will do our best to fulfill your request, if we cannot find a match, you will have to pay 200% of the double occupancy price.

Cruise Includes:

  • Accommodations in all-oceanview staterooms and suites for 15 days aboard the M/S Paul Gauguin.
  • All meals aboard ship with choice of two elegant restaurants and one pool-side grill, all with open-seating dining. Vegetarian and wellness-focused meal selections, with special dietary menus upon request.
  • All shipboard entertainment including new insights into astronomy and Polynesian culture through our onboard enrichment lecture series.
  • A state-of-the-art, retractable watersports platform featuring complimentary waterskiing, windsurfing and kayaking, or take a Zodiac on one of our optional scuba-diving adventures.
  • Complimentary beverages, including fine wines and premium spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffee and tea served throughout the ship.
  • 24-hour room service and in-room dining.
  • Internet Wi-Fi access throughout your entire cruise.
  • Refrigerator replenished daily with soft drinks, beer and bottled water.
  • Bar setup and butler service in Categories B and above.
  • In-room movie channels and movies available.
  • All onboard gratuities.

Not Included:

Air travel to and from Tahiti (Airport code: PPT) (see below); passports & visas; luggage handling to and from the ship; possible air and cruise fuel surcharges; shipboard Connoisseur Bar List beverages; shore excursions; and items of a personal nature including spa, boutique and laundry services, etc.; and recommended trip cancellation/medical insurance.

Air Travel to Tahiti

Using Paul Gauguin Cruises’ special air program, (schedules and fares will be provided in early 2020) will assure you’ll not miss the boat! Where available, this program offers guests the opportunity to upgrade to First or Business class. Carriers and routing are at the discretion of Paul Gauguin Cruises. Requests for specific routing and/or carrier may result in an additional charge. Air rates are subject to change until ticketed.

Payments & Terms

  • An advance payment of $2000 USD per person and a completed Reservation Form are required to secure your reservation.
  • A second advance payment, equal to 40% of your invoice total is due February 5, 2020.
  • Your balance payment in full is due August 5, 2020.

TravelQuest reserves the right to treat a reservation as cancelled if payments are not received when due.

Cancellations must be in writing, by email, fax or letter to TravelQuest to receive a refund of cruise charges according to this schedule:

  • Cancellations made from the time of booking through September 4, 2019, will incur a $1000 USD per person cancellation fee.
  • Cancellations made between September 5, 2019 – February 4, 2020, will incur a $2000 USD per person cancellation fee.
  • Cancellations made between February 5-August 4, 2020, first and second advance payments are non-refundable.
  • Cancellations made after August 4, 2020, full cruise cost is non-refundable.
  • If TravelQuest is able to fill your cancelled cabin prior to August 5, 2020 you will be refunded your payments to date, less $1000 per person.

Traveler Health

It is each traveler’s responsibility to take all appropriate medical advice prior to booking as to whether or not they are fit enough to undertake this trip. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact us.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

Travel insurance protects you from the unexpected “what-ifs” on your travels. What if your bags go missing, what if you have to cancel, what if you need medical assistance? We at TravelQuest International recommend that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. You may purchase this insurance on your own or you may contact our friends at Travelex who are familiar with our trips and offer a selection of coverages to suit your needs. To be eligible for the waiver of pre-existing medical condition exclusion, their plans must be purchased within 21 days from the time you make your initial deposit to TravelQuest. Otherwise, the plan may be purchased any time prior to departure.

For more information on these plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services direct at 1-800-228-9792, and reference location number 03-6043.

A Note About Fuel

In the uncertain, often volatile oil market, it is difficult to predict long-term fuel costs, and more specifically, costs at the time of the voyage. Our prices are based on the prevailing fuel rates at the time of the brochure publication, which is well in advance of departure. While we will do everything possible to maintain our prices, if fuel prices increase significantly at or before the time of the voyage, it may be necessary to institute a fuel surcharge.


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