Vessels: Aranui 3
Months of operation: Year-round
What's included in the price:
- All meals including wine with lunch and dinner
- All shore excursions
- All port, tourist and cruise taxes
- Gratuities are totally at your discretion, they are not expected
This line offers a fantastic way to visit the French Polynesian islands that is difficult to rival. The line operates only one ship, the Aranui 3. Aranui means The Great highway in the Maori tongue. The ship is unusual in that it is a freighter carrying much needed goods to the people of French Polynesia whilst offering a high standard of cruising comfort to her passengers.
The ship was built in 2000 and is registered in France. Because she is registered to carry so many passengers, she meets much higher standards of safety at sea than would be expected of an ordinary freighter. The crew are mainly from the Marquesas, a nation well known for their high standards of seamanship and their relaxed and friendly attitude to visitors. They will often treat passengers to an impromptu evening concert based on their culture, as much for their own enjoyment as that of the passengers.
Cruises are usually of fourteen days typically leaving from Papeete in Tahiti and visiting such exotic places a Fakarava in Tuamotu Islands, Ua Pou in the Marquesas and Hiva Oa to mention just a few. The ship tends to sail at night but passengers may have one day of simply cruising at sea. This is no hardship in this as there is a wide range of fellow passengers to meet and chat with. There are almost always Australians, New Zealanders and a smattering of Americans. There are often a few French passengers, either from the mother country or citizens living in French Polynesia. There are often a few other Europeans such as Germans and what would a ship be without the ubiquitous Brit?
There is a fully equipped lecture theatre on board and a range of highly knowledgeable lecturers join the ship. They give talks on Polynesian culture in general and the history and background of each of the places visited in particular. Past passengers have been extremely pleased by these talks as they add so much to the enjoyment of the cruise and each port visited.
What might not suit everyone is that there are no casinos, Broadway reviews or wearing black tie rig for captain’s night dinners. The dress code is non-existent. Passengers wear what they are comfortable with – usually shorts and a T-shirt. There is a swimming pool, two bars and a very comfortable dining room, but that is about it. There is plenty of space for lounging in the sun. Watching the freight being unloaded can be an entertainment in itself. One past passenger was amazed to see a horse lifted over 100 feet into the air to be landed at one port. The main emphasis of cruises on Arunui 3 is on the places that are visited, not a life in the fast lane at all.
There is a choice of accommodation from suites to inside dormitories. All are fitted out to a high standard and air-conditioned. Electricity is supplied in the cabins at 220 volts but the sockets are of French design. Australians therefore need to take along an adaptor. It’s also a good idea to take along some hiking boots. The island excursions into the rain forest are awesome, but you will need the right footwear. If you can spare the time, it’s not a bad idea to learn some basic French. This is the language of the islands and visits ashore are so much better if you can understand what the natives are saying.
What many cruisers really like about Aranui 3 is that everything is included in the price except the hard liquor, but the wine taken with dinner is free. Being a French ship, this is of the high standard that would be expected.
A cruise on Aranui 3 is an almost unique way of visiting the beautiful islands of French Polynesia. It is a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.t is a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.
The hospitable staff, many of whom have worked with Aranui 3 for years, will introduce you to this paradise and the century-old customs that so fascinated the early explorers, such as Cook and Melville. You’ll be aware of the connections with Paul Gauguin, Robert Louis Stevenson and Jacques Brel, for example, and you will understand how they became so captivated by the charm of these islands.
Three delicious, hearty meals of fresh, local produce are served every day with 24-hour complimentary self-serve tea and coffee in between. The spacious restaurant is free seating, so you can relax and circulate among all your new friends throughout the voyage. When dining on board each table receives a free bottle of wine with lunch and dinner.
There are four distinct standards of accommodation available. The Suite and Deluxe cabins offer queen-size beds and the Standard A cabins are set up as twin- or triple-share. All cabins are fully air-conditioned and have ensuites. For the more adventurous, there are multiple-share cabins available. Each accommodates up to eight passengers and the bathrooms are shared.