Aranui Plans New Freighter to Paradise
PHOTO: This rendering shows the Aranui 5, due out in late 2015. (Courtesy of Aranui)
Aranui, the “Freighter to Paradise” that carries cargo and passengers throughout French Polynesia, is launching a new vessel in late November.
The aptly named Aranui 5 will replace the Aranui 3 on 2,200-mile trips from Papeete, Tahiti, to all six inhabited Marquesas Islands in the remotest archipelago in the world. It also will stop at Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago and Bora Bora in the Society Islands.
Wait. Shouldn’t there be an Aranui 4? “The gap in the numbers is caused by the fact that there were actually two Aranui 2’s, so the number 5 will finally even this out,” the company says on its website.
The new cargo ship will make 17 departures per year on the 14-day voyages, which deliver essential supplies to each port on the itinerary and transporting copra (dried coconut meat), citrus fruit and fish to Papeete.
The Aranui 5 will be slightly wider and taller with two more decks, allowing for more public spaces and accommodations. It will accommodate 254 passengers (compared to 200 on Aranui 3) in 32 suites and 31 superior deluxe cabins — the majority with balconies — plus 40 staterooms. There are also 24 berths in five dormitories for guests at least 16 years old.
The vessel will have fitness and massage rooms, a library, shops, a restaurant, four bars and a swimming pool, as well as several lounges and conference rooms.
During the voyages, passengers take whaleboat transfers to shore to picnic on white sand beaches, swim and snorkel in lagoons, and meet local artists and craftspeople. Excursions include hikes and Jeep safaris to jungles, mountain villages, and sacred ritual sites, as well as riding Marquesan horses. Some tours visit the former home of painter Paul Gaugin who was inspired by the beauty of French Polynesia, as were Herman Melville, the author of “Moby Dick,” and Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote “Treasure Island.”
Meanwhile, several tour operators are offering a shorter vacation package that includes international and intra-French Polynesia airfare, the abbreviated 11-night Aranui experience and two nights at the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa. They include Islands in the Sun, Pacific Holidays, Pleasant Holidays, Tahiti Legends and TravlTips.
The shortened 11-day itinerary is designed to appeal to North American travelers with limited vacation time. Rates for the 11-day cruise start at $3,910 per person, based on double occupancy accommodations in a standard cabin. Onboard meals including wine and regular planned excursions are included. Rates do not include port tax, cruise tax and tourism tax, which may range from $276 to $338, depending on stateroom category.
Here’s a video depicting the Aranui voyage.
More by Theresa Norton
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