SCUBA FAQ

SCUBA FAQ

What kind of SCUBA equipment you are providing aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin?

When you sign up for a dive, everything is included except the dive computer. You will get a BCD, a regulator, a 3mm shorty (only for divers), and a weight belt (or weight for your integrated weight BCD). The tanks provided are 12L aluminum (80 cubic). Noncompensated 15L (100 cubic) steel tanks are also available for heavier breathers.

At the watersports marina, you can also pick up snorkeling equipment (mask, fins, and snorkel), which you can keep for the entire cruise. The fins are not adjustable and are to be worn barefoot. Dive fins are provided per dive per person; snorkel fins can be kept for the duration of the cruise.

What are the prices for the dives?

  • $50 Refresher course (compulsory for those who have not been diving for over a year)
  • $99 PADI Discover SCUBA Dive course pool session
  • $120 PADI Discover SCUBA Dive course per any additional dive
  • $99 Single-tank day dive
  • $119 Single-tank night dive
  • $120 Intro dive (see question below about beginning divers who would like to try SCUBA diving)
  • $200 Two-tank day dive

What are the prices to obtain PADI certifications on board?

  • $120 PADI Enriched-Air Nitrox Course (for certified divers who wish to extend their skills with enriched-gas-mix diving): Price includes book, exam, and certification fee.
  • $275 PADI SCUBA Referral Diver Course (for divers who have completed the pool session and a class before embarking the ship): Two dives are required to complete your SCUBA diver certification. You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $450 PADI SCUBA Diver Course (complete course): Includes three pool sessions, theory lessons and exams, and two open-water dives. You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $540 PADI SCUBA Referral Open-Water Course (for those who require only four dives to complete their Open-Water Diver certification): You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $570 PADI Advanced Diver Course (for those who already have the Open-Water Diver certification but would like to advance to the next level): Five dives are required, including one deep dive of 100 feet and one navigation dive. You will obtain the certification on board.
  • $750 PADI Open-Water Diver Course (complete course): Includes five pool sessions, theory lessons and exams, and four open-water dives. You will obtain the certification on board.

Please advise what is the best method, location, and time to book my dives ?

As soon as you are on board The Gauguin, you should visit the Dive Desk (Deck 4 lobby) to complete the requested forms and to sign up for dives. A medical questionnaire is part of the form, so if you have a preexisting condition that might affect your safety, we recommend that you bring a note from your physician. The forms are also found online, so you can also complete them in advance of your cruise. Some dives may be pre-reserved and some dives must be booked onboard. Please refer to the dive descriptions for additional details.

Certain dives, such as those in Rangiroa and Fakarava, cannot be pre-reserved via Paul Gauguin Cruises. Why is that?

Only dives that are operated directly from The Gauguin can be pre-reserved with us. Some dives may be pre-reserved and some dives must be booked onboard. Please refer to the dive descriptions for additional details. In Rangiroa, Fakarava, and the Cooks Islands, we use the services of local third-party operators. These dives are operated on a space-available basis only and might not be available.

I prefer to use my own suit and SCUBA gear, as I am more familiar/comfortable with them. Are there hanging storage/drying lockers for our gear (separate from our stateroom) during the sailing?

Divers can store their SCUBA gear at the Marina.

I am beginner and would like to try SCUBA diving. What can I do to achieve this on board The Gauguin?

There are two ways to try SCUBA diving during your cruise:

1. Intro Dive ($120):
Available only in Taha’a, this dive occurs in the lagoon in very shallow water (maximum depth: 18 feet) for 45 minutes. This dive is a tour only; no skills are required. Ratio: 1 instructor to 2 divers.

2. PADI Discover SCUBA Diving (DSD) class ($99 per session):
This class is for those who would like to begin the process of being certified. Each DSD class consists of a swimming-pool session, with an overview of the SCUBA rules and skills. It is usually held in Huahine on the first day of the cruise.

After completing the class, you can sign up for beginners’ dives ($120 per dive), which are sequenced at progressive depths: Toopua in Bora Bora (maximum 20ft); Shark Gallery in Moorea (maximum 40ft); and Nuhi Nuhi in Rangiroa).

Does the PADI Discover SCUBA Diving class give me a dive certification?

No, but it gives you credit toward the Open-Water certification. You will be registered in the PADI network, and if you want to complete your certification, you will have three months to do so.

What if I want to be certified on board?

We always try our best, but we cannot guarantee that it is going to be possible, due to variables such as the number of interested divers and the dive schedule during the cruise.

You can, however, prepare your certification at home and arrive at the ship with a PADI referral form. You will then need only four open-water dives in order to complete the full certification.

I didn't dive for a little while. Do you offer refresher course on board?

Yes. You have two options for refresher courses:

  • $50: Held in the swimming pool on board during the first day of the cruise, in Huahine, depending on the itinerary.
  • $120: Held later in the cruise, in the lagoon off Taha’a. This option consists of a refresher course followed by a dive.

Please see the Dive Desk (Deck 4 Lobby) for more information during embarkation day.

Do I have to take the refresher class?

Yes, if you haven’t dived for more than a year, the policy of the ship requires you to take the refresher class in the swimming pool on board during the first day of the cruise.

I am an advanced, experienced diver. Can I use SCUBA equipment whenever I want or dive on my own with my buddy?

No, French Polynesian diving regulations are very strict and require that you always dive with a PADI or CMAS Instructor.

I have just been certified, and I would like to know if I can sign up for the night dive.

We require a minimum of 15 dives logged prior to signing up for the night dive.

Do you provide primary and secondary dive lights for night dives?

No, we provide only primary dive lights.

What kind of boat are you using for the dives?

We have two Zodiacs® that can carry eight divers each.

Can we dive from the marina platform?

No, for safety reasons it is forbidden to dive, swim, or snorkel from the marina platform.

Generally, how are water entries performed: from the edge of the marina deck, from a watercraft such as a Zodiac®, or both?

We use Zodiacs® as dive boats. We never dive or swim from the marina platform for safety reasons. On our dive boats, the most convenient way to make entry is by side roll.

How are exits from the water onto the dive boats performed? Are there ladders?

The member of our marina team who is doing the surface watch on the dive boats takes your weight belt, BCD and tank, and other gear, after which you exit the water and enter the dive boat by means of a ladder.

Are there freshwater rinsing showers and/or soaking tubs for gear?

Yes.

What spare parts and repair tools are on hand? For example, is it practical to leave my “save a dive” kit at home to reduce luggage weight?

We have regulators (Aqualung) and some BCD spare parts (Aqualung) on board. If we can repair some of our guests’ equipment, we will do it.

What kind of tank valve are you using?

We have yoke-valve tanks. If you have a DIN regulator, please bring your own adaptor, or you can dive with one of our regulators.

What is the water temperature in French Polynesia?

There are generally two seasons, comparable to America's summer and winter:

  • The summer runs from December through June, when the water temperature is around 83°F (29°C).
  • The winter runs from July through November, when the water temperature is about 76°F (26°C)

What is the average visibility?

Depending on weather conditions, the average visibility is about 100 feet (30 m) except in particular locations (the Marquesas and the manta dive in Bora Bora).

What happens in case of a dive accident?

All the dive instructors on board are EFR (Emergency First Response) certified, and the dive boats have oxygen and a first-aid kit as required by local and ship regulations. A doctor and nurse are also standing by on board The Gauguin, and there is direct communication among the dive boats, the bridge, the ship’s medical center, and the Safety Officer. There is a decompression chamber in Tahiti. Emergency evacuations are performed by helicopter.

Do you take pictures or videos of our dives?

No.

What is the maximum depth allowed?

Overall depth is around 70 feet, and we always dive within the NO decompression time limit so that no decompression stops are required. Some dives for advanced divers are around 100 feet. PADI standards and procedures are strictly applied on board The Gauguin.

My spouse is not a diver; can they join us on the dive boat while I am diving with you?

No, only divers are allowed on the dive boat.

Do you have prescription masks?

No.

How long does one dive take, from start to finish?

For a single-tank dive operation, it usually takes about two hours from the meeting time at the marina to the time you are back on board the ship.

On a typical dive, how many guest divers are there? And how many certified dive instructors?

According to French Polynesian law, PADI instructors are able to conduct a group of five divers maximum. We have three PADI instructors on board The Gauguin, so the maximum number of divers is fifteen, divided between two Zodiac® dive boats.

In some parts of the world, gloves are forbidden in marine sanctuaries. Is wearing gloves allowed or not allowed in French Polynesia?

It is allowed but not really necessary.

Is there a mooring line available during dives?

When we arrive on a non-drift dive site, either we attach the boat to an existing mooring, or we drop the anchor. This is for assisting guests in their descent, especially for beginners so they do not need to control their buoyancy. There will most likely be a mooring line on every dive, but is not guaranteed.