Aranui 5 set to launch on the South Pacific with early booking offer to the Marquesas Islands

There is always much excitement surrounding the launch of a new ship, no more so than the Aranui 5, which is anticipated to make its maiden voyage from Tahiti to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific Ocean at the end of November 2015.

To commemorate the launch, a 10 per cent discount on the first five 14-day departures of 2016 is being offered, based on cabin bookings made before 31 August 2015.

Taking over the route currently travelled by the Aranui 3, the new ship will make 17 departures per year; the only vessel to travel the 2,200-mile trip from Papeete in Tahiti to all six inhabited Marquesas Islands in the remotest archipelago in the world. It will also stop at Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago and idyllic Bora Bora in the Society Islands.

Dubbed ‘The Freighter to Paradise’, the Aranui combines comfort with cargo, delivering essential supplies to each port on its itinerary and transporting copra (dried coconut meat), citrus fruit and fish to Papeete, and is welcomed warmly by islanders who view it as a lifeline to the outside world.
A journey to the South Pacific is like no other. Passengers take whaleboat transfers to shore to picnic on white sand beaches, swim and snorkel in translucent lagoons, listen to the hypnotic strains of Polynesian music and meet local artists and craftspeople. And, with pristine jungles, remote mountain villages, sacred ritual sites, mysterious stone tiki gods and an array of amazing archaeological discoveries, there is no shortage of exciting and interesting hikes, excursions and jeep safaris to take, plus optional trips such as riding Marquesan horses.

Other highlights of the islands include a visit to the former home of world-renowned artist, Paul Gaugin who, along with author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville, and writer of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, took so much inspiration for their work from the beauty of French Polynesia.

Taste buds will be tantalised with regional dishes such as pig baked in an underground oven, breadfruit, curried goat, rock lobster, poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and soaked in coconut milk) and sweet red bananas.

Travellers can feast their eyes too on the majestic beauty of the islands’ natural wonders: soaring mountain spires, a giant volcanic amphitheatre, towering cliffs streaked with waterfalls – some as high as 1000 feet. In fact, it’s an assault on the senses as the scents of frangipani, tiare blossoms and sandalwood mix together on these lush islands.

On the Aranui 5, fully air-conditioned accommodation including private bathroom with shower will be available in 32 suites and 31 superior deluxe cabins, the majority with balconies, plus 40 staterooms. There are also 24 berths in five dormitories, in which guests must be at least 16 years. The ship sleeps 254 passengers in total.

Colourful Marquesan designs hang on the ship’s walls, along with prints of Gaugin’s work and original paintings by island resident, Erhard Lux.
Facilities include fitness and massage rooms, a library, shopping centre, restaurant, four bars and a swimming pool, as well as several lounges and conference rooms in which guests may attend fascinating lectures on the region’s history, culture and art.

Journeys of seven, 10, 11 and 14 days are available on Aranui 5 with published prices starting from Euros 2369.92 per person for a fortnight in shared dormitory accommodation.

Prices for a seven-day cruise in a deluxe double cabin start from Euros 3,156.20 or Euros 4013.80 per person for a 14-day cruise, based on two sharing a standard double cabin. This includes three meals with complimentary wine daily, guided excursions, picnics and meals ashore, plus taxes. Seven days in the Presidential Suite is Euros 4,665.06 per person while 14 days is Euros 7,036.85 (approx £5,160). A 10% discount will be applied to the published prices on the first five 14-day departures.

Optional excursions such as scuba diving, horseback riding and fishing are an additional cost. Flights to/from Papeete, Tahiti are not included in these prices. Air France and Air Tahiti Nui fly to Papeete (via Paris and Los Angeles), with prices from around £1500pp return.

(Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime)