Explore the South Sea islands on Aranui 3 – Freighter to Paradise
Actor, writer, broadcaster and avid world traveller, Morris Paton and I are passionate about escaping city crowds to experience off the beaten track, cultural, laid back adventures. This is a seafaring Adventure with a capital A to a Dream Destination.
Aranui 3 is a freighter supply ship operating around the outer archipelago of French Polynesia but fortunately for us, she has accommodation for around 200 passengers. While the ship has most of the facilities of a standard expeditition vessel (restaurant, pool, gym, lounge and library), the ambience is all very basic and casual: the rare opportunity to take part in the preserved authentic life and work of the native Polynesian people creates a unique cruise experience.
The name Aranui means “The Great Highway” in Maori. The first Aranui vessel was purchased in 1959 from a New Zealand shipowner to serve as a vital lifeline link for the Marquesas island communities. She was later replaced by the larger Aranui 2 to transport more cargo and and also increase the number of guests. In 2000 Aranui 3 was purpose built as a freighter and passenger vessel; accommodating up to 200 guests she is now classified as a Passenger ship. thus adhering to all safety at sea procedures.
The Aranui 3 sets sail from Papeete, the capital port of Tahiti on regular 14 night voyages to visit the remote Marquesas Islands: the names are just so poetic and lyrical: Hakahau, Taiohae, Atuona and the remote atoll communities of Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.
Scottish novelist, poet and world travelling nomad, Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island and Kidnapped), set sail from San Francisco on 28 June, 1888, chartering a 90 ft masted Schooner, the Casco, to set sail for the South Seas. Accompanied by his wife Fanny and his mother Margaret, skipper and crew, he was in search of a warm climate for his health and a literary journey to inspirational foreign lands and culture.
He had long been “sick with desire to go there” having heard about ” the beautiful places, men and women with red flowers in their hair and nothing to do but sit in the sun and pick up the fruits as they fall.”
After several weeks at sea on 28th July the magical moment arrived when land was finally sighted – the island of Nuku Hiva.
Stepping ashore, you will have the opporunity to meet the local people, artists, wood craftsmen, fishermen, view archaeological ruins and religious statues, walk through the jungle, ride Marquesan horses, or snorkel in aquamarine lagoons.
Along the way, sample local produce – rock lobster, raw fish marinated in coconut milk, curried goat, breadfruit and sweet red bananas.
Entertainment is laid back and fun from a troupe of Polynesian musicians om board, as well as informative with lectures by an expert on Marquesan history, art and culture.
“For 14 days we have seen no other ship, no other tourist. We have been at sea alone with nature and the people of Polynesia in the immensity of the Pacific aboard the Copra Trader to the outer isles.” Guest on board Aranui 3
In order to illustrate this magical voyage on board the Aranui, I was accompanied by a professional fillm-maker to shoot a travelogue Video. With local music and the sound of the sea, it captures the scenic beauty, culture, heritage – the fascinating legacy of tribal ancestry and authentic Marquesan island life. Rather than trying to describe these painterly Gauginesque seascape just in words, the film is wonderfully evocative and captures the spirit of the people and place.
Watch the Movie: The file is too large to add here on this website but if you would like a sneak preview of life on board Aranui 3, please contact me.
Facts Box –
The Freighter and Passenger Ship: Aranui 3- sails under a French flag with a crew who are mainly from French Polynesia and Marquesas Islands.
Cruise Line: Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime. For full information on itineraries and reservations: www.aranui.com
Accommodation – Suite, Deluxe, Standard, and “Class C” cabins. Suites and Deluxe are large outside cabins (some Suites with a balcony), queen-size beds, refrigerator, bathroom with a tub. Standard Cabins are outside cabins with two lower berths, shower-room. Class C is a dormitory-style room with upper and lower berths, air-conditioning, and shared facilities.
Facilities: Dining room, Pool, Sunbathing deck, Gym, Bar, Lounges, Laundry & laundry service, Internet terminal, Boutique.
Dining: Meals are served in the spacious dining room with an informal setting for buffet breakfast, open-seating lunch and dinner. Complimentary wine is served during lunch and dinner. While on shore, guests are sometimes provided with lunch at local restaurants or delicious picnics. Guest lounge open 24 hours a day with coffee and tea station, as well as the Bar for beverages available to purchase.
Itinerary: 14 day voyage year round. See departure dates on the website.
Shore excursions: a tender boat takes guests ashore where necessary; island walks and archeological tours, swimming and snorkelling, local arts & culture.
What to pack: shorts, light, loose trousers, kaftans, T-shirts, bathing suit, rain poncho /waterproof coat, sweatshirt or light sweater, comfortable deck and beach shoes. The native “pareo” is a colourful cotton sarong which is very practical to wear as a skirt, dress, shawl and beach cover up. Pareos can be purchsed in Tahiti and at the ship’s boutique. Ensure you bring sufficient medication if required and personal toiletries/cosmetics.
What to buy: Polynesian pearls, handcrafts, jewellery, pareos, artwork, engraved prints, paintings; get a traditional tattoo!
Travel Plan: Cruise only fares or arrange a Fly /Land/Cruise package. Flights from Los Angeles to Tahiti via Air Tahiti Nui; most guests will arrange a pre/post cruise hotel in Papeete, or extend the vacation in French Polynesia with additional nights in Bora Bora and/or Moorea.
Tahiti Tourism: official website for Flights, hotels and travel information to visit Tahiti and Her Islands. www.tahiti-tourisme.co.uk
The majestic landscape
50 DAY SURVIVAL IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
It would be wise to arrange an organised trip to explore these remote Polynesian islands of the South Pacific.!
Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo, the coral Tokelau islands, lie 300 miles north of Samoa. On 25 November, 2010, three teenage boys who went missing from Atafu Atoll in a 12 ft boat were found safe after fifty days during which they had drifted 800 miles away across the Pacific. Filo Filo, Samu Perex and Edward Nassau had left the atoll in the Tokelau Islands after a school event on 5 October to visit a neighbouring island and had been given up for dead after unsuccessful searches.
A Fijian tuna fishing trawler spotted the boat by chance having strayed off their usual shipping route, to find the severely dehydrated and sunburnt boys on board. They had lived on coconuts, collected rainwater in a tarpaulin and managed to catch flying fish and kill a sea bird. Their rescue came just in time when it stopped raining and they began sipping seawater. Their families, friends and residents of their village cried and shouted with happiness after hearing the news regarding it as true religious miracle. After being taken to Samoa, they are due to set off home on 16 December by way of a two day boat journey back to their Atafu island home.