Cruise French Polynesia on Aranui 3

Many people dream of cruising the South Pacific, travelling in luxury on a romantic cruise ship discovering small, beautiful remote islands.

The good news is that there are plenty of ships which cruise the South Pacific; on which you can enjoy the luxury of a first class stateroom and enjoy gourmet meals, brilliant entertainment and visit awesome islands along with the other 2,000 passengers.

Then there’s the Aranui 3 which will certainly take you to visit jaw-droppingly beautiful islands, but without many of the luxuries you’d expect on a top-of-the-range cruise ship.

In other words, the Aranui 3 is not your typical cruise ship, which is why I find it so appealing.

The ship carries a mix of freight and passengers. Although, it is not a typical freighter the Aranui does carry about 200 passengers. It has choices of various standards of air-conditioned accommodation; Suites, Deluxe, Standard and C Class, which are a type of dormitory. The ship regularly undertakes a two week voyage between Papeete on the island of Tahiti and the remote Marquesas Islands which lie about 1,371 km (852 mi) northeast of Tahiti.

`Aranui’ is a Maori word for `Great Highway’ and the original ship was purchased from New Zealand so the name stuck. The present ship is the third vessel to carry the name and she was originally built in Romania, but is ideal to carry freight and passengers on its regular fortnightly round.

The Marquesas Islands are truly magnificent, but rarely visited. There are 15 islands in all, which are divided into the Northern and Southern Marquesas. The largest of the islands is Nuku Hiva, which is also the most populated. The Aranui calls at the island twice on each voyage. Firstly, on the outward leg, visiting the island again on the return leg as it ferries goods around the group.

Because is it a freighter, passengers can disembark at each port and often have the option of doing sightseeing. All but one of the islands is volcanic in origin, so are quite mountainous.

Whilst the ship is comfortable, a trip on board Aranui 3 should be taken more for the adventure than for a typical glitzy cruise experience. It does have a swimming pool, but entertainment is usually provided by crew members having a sing-along. Then again, Polynesians do usually have wonderful voices. Also lacking is the range of food choices you would normally get on a cruise.

A voyage onboard Aranui 3 is not suitable for everyone. However, if you are flexible enough to accept the limitations which go with travelling on a small ship, and take more of an interest in the ports you visit than your facilities on board then this cruise may be the perfect one for you.

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