© Aranui III
The Aranui III is a ship like no other. Half cargo ship, half cruise ship, the vessel measures 177 m long and, when it sails between Tahiti and the Marquesas, it transports containers, pallets, crates, bundles...and passengers. As sort of workhorse of the South Seas, the Aranui III never passes by unnoticed; its unusual profile grabs viewers' attention with its low bow section, crowded with giant metal containers and cranes, and its stern, as tall as a small building, complete with elegant passageways, a swimming pool and a solarium. But beyond appearances, this multi-purpose cargo ship is unique because of the incredible route it takes. For the last twenty years, the Aranui has been plying the waters of Polynesia from one end to the other to resupply the Marquesas, the most isolated archipelago in a region that is as large as Europe.
In the eyes of the 9,000 inhabitants of the Marquesas, the Aranui is more than just a ship: it is one of the rare links to the outside world bringing supplies, material and equipment, and visitors every three weeks.
In the eyes of its passengers, the Aranui is more than a simple cruise ship. Although the on-board amenities and services are what you would expect for that type of vessel with its restaurant, workout room, library and comfortable cabins, the prevailing ambiance on deck is completely unique: aboard the Aranui, passengers and crew rub elbows and quickly become one big family sharing an extraordinary adventure.
© Aranui III
The fabulous journey begins in Papeete, the administrative capital of French Polynesia, located on the island of Tahiti. Once all 200 guests are welcomed aboard, the Aranui raises anchor and sets sail on a journey that lasts 14 days, covering a distance of 1,500 kilometres (one way). On second day of the trip, the cargo ship makes a stop in the unspoiled clear waters of the Fakarava atoll in the Tuamotus. The adventure continues to the Marquesas, where more than 15 ports of call await the passengers among the islands of Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata and Ua Huka.
These legendary islands offer guests a visit with nothing spared among towering peaks, mysterious valleys and rugged coasts. On most islands, the Aranui's passengers are the only visitors the locals expect. So the welcome extended is warm and sincere, as if each passenger were a long-lost friend. After eleven days of bliss, the Aranui must resign itself to leaving the Marquesas and head to the Rangiroa atoll and then back to Tahiti. Although the “return to modern civilisation” is never easy for the passengers, they are sure to remember this one-of-a-kind cruise on a ship like no other.