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Aranui 5 - A Polynesian Legend (Thursday departures)

A Polynesian legend tells that the gods created the Marquesas Islands to be the roof of French Polynesia. On the Aranui voyages, travelers are taken to the heart of Polynesian culture and traditions, to islands that have remained untouched and where time seems to have stopped. It is a journey of a lifetime!
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Enjoy a 12-night scenic cruise to the most remote islands of the world, including shore excursions to remote villages and archaeological sites.  

Experience the distinct features of Aranui 5, including spacious lounges, panoramic bar (Skybar), outside swimming pool, shop, and massage room.

At every port, guests can enjoy an array of included excursions. 

Aranui 5 is a dual-purpose passenger and working freighter that makes a regular 3800 kilometre round-trip voyage from Tahiti to the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands in French Polynesia. On the 13-day, all- inclusive cruise, passengers visit nine islands and discover why the likes of artist Paul Gauguin, novelists Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville, and musician Jacques Brel were so captivated by this enchanting part of the world. 

For the past 60 years, Aranui, which translates as ‘The Great Highway’, has maintained a vital lifeline between the remote Marquesas and the outside world. In 1985, Aranui introduced the first passenger-freighter hybrid, offering travellers the opportunity to explore the far-flung archipelago’s six inhabited islands. Aranui is such an important part of the Marquesas that locals often refer to the ship as the seventh inhabited island.

The once-in-a-lifetime adventure includes nine French Polynesian islands where guests have the chance to take 4WD adventures through winding mountain tracks, hike to sacred ritual sites, visit villages and churches and immerse in the local culture.

While passengers relax aboard the custom-built ship, its muscular and proficient sailors take control of the freight. With skilful precision, Aranui 5’s sailors and crew unload and load cargo at remote docks to an audience of waiting villagers. Food, fishing equipment, building materials and vehicles are replaced with a bounty of island produce including limes, coconuts, copra (dried coconut), fruit and fish, for the return journey to Tahiti.

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12-night cruise on-board the Aranui 5 in a Stateroom
3 Meals Per Day
Wine during onboard lunches and dinners
All Aranui 5 planned Shore Excursions
English Speaking Guides
Laundry Service
All Port Charges/Taxes

Upgrade your Voyage to:

  • Deluxe Stateroom with Balcony +$1,465pp
  • Superior Deluxe Stateroom with Balcony +$2,120pp
  • Junior Suite (with/without Balcony) +$2,518pp
  • Premium Suite with Balcony +$2,899pp
  • Royal Suite with Balcony +$3,354pp
  • Presidential Suite with Balcony +$6,599pp


Expand Collapse  all days
Day 1
Papeete, Tahiti

After a morning embarkation, guests enjoy a Polynesian welcome on the pool deck with a sailaway drink and traditional Marquesan performance before Aranui 5 heads northeast to the Tuamotu Archipelago.

The day is spent getting to know crew and fellow guests while exploring the vessel that will be ‘home’ for the next 13 days.


Lunch, Dinner
Day 2
Fakarava Atoll - Tuamotu Islands

After Aranui 5 anchors in the turquoise lagoon of Fakarava, a tender takes guests ashore to wander through the village, past a coral church and locals’ homes, before arriving at a white sandy beach fringed by swaying coconut palms and a coral rimmed lagoon perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Bicycles, jet skis and quad bikes are available for hire to shorten the approximately 20 minute walk.

It’s back to Aranui 5 for a three course lunch in the dining room and a free afternoon onboard.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3
At Sea Crossing Tuamotu to Marquesas

A day to unwind and relax on one of the sun decks or in the comfort of our air-conditioned lounge. Or why not simply enjoy the views of the endless South Pacific Ocean as you make your way to the captivating Marquesas Islands.

Lectures on Marquesan culture and history will send you back in time and give you full insight into this ancient civilization. During the cruise, you will also get the opportunity to learn how to move your hips like a true Tahitian!

You will probably spend many evenings socializing at the bar with your fellow adventurers from around the world. The spirited Polynesian crew will proudly introduce you to their way of life and entertain you with Polynesian songs and rhythms on their ukuleles, guitars and drums.

Before you go to bed, set your watch 30 minutes ahead for Marquesan time.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4
Nuku Hiva (Taipivai/Hatiheu/Taiohae) - Marquesas Islands

During a full day visit to Nuku Hiva – the small administrative capital of the Marquesas – guests traverse the island from south to north beginning with a guided tour of an impressive cathedral, scenic photo stops, and a visit to the Tohua Kamuihei archaeological site where dancers perform a traditional Pig Dance under a sacred 400-year-old banyan tree and guests are guided to ancient petroglyphs.

Lunch is an ‘umu’ – meat cooked in a Marquesan earth oven – served with local delicacies including breadfruit, taro and sweet red bananas at a restaurant in Hatiheu or Taipivai village.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5
Ua Pou (Hakahau)

During a visit to Hakahau village at Ua Pou, guests have the chance to take in spectacular views of the ‘Cathedral Island’ and its mountain spires on a self-guided 40 minute walk to the ‘hill with the stone cross’, watch some of the Marquesas’ finest dancers perform a traditional Bird Dance, wander the handicraft stalls where artisans carve volcanic flower stone into figurines and taste some tropical fruit before a lunch of meat, rice and local delicacies.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6
Hiva Oa (Atuona) & Tahuata (Vaitahu)

Aranui will arrive in Hiva Oa in the morning, where you will have plenty of time to explore Atuona, the second largest village in Marquesas. This is where Paul Gauguin lived and created some of his best work. You can visit the colonial store where he shopped, as well as a replica of his infamous “House of Pleasure” and the adjoining museum.

As you walk up the hill to the cemetery, you’ll have sweeping views of the harbor. Beneath a huge frangipani tree is a tombstone with the simple words: Paul Gauguin 1903. Nearby is the grave of another famous European who also was seduced by Hiva Oa: Belgian singer-composer Jacques Brel, who died in 1978.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7
Hiva Oa (Puamau) & Tahuata (Kokuu)

The smallest of the Marquesas inhabited islands, Tahuata is home to a church which was opened by the Vatican in 1988 and boasts impressive wood carvings and stained-glass windows. The island is well known for its bone carving and bone jewellery with ample free time for shopping.

In Puamau, travel by 4WD to the most incredible archaeological site for “tikis” (ancient, human-like religious stone sculptures) outside of Easter Island. Once you reach Mea’e Iipona, our knowledgeable guides will tell you the stories of these haunting statues of ancient times. Surrounded by beautifully lush grounds, the site is overwhelming and has a lot of what Polynesians call “mana” (spiritual power). Only a small part of the site has been restored and most of it is still buried under massive trees and rocks.

After lunch on board, Aranui will set sail for Tahuata, where you can enjoy a lazy afternoon relaxing at the beach or taking a refreshing dip in the Pacific Ocean.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8
Fatu Hiva (Omoa/Hanavave)

This is the most lush and remote island of the Marquesas. The only access is by sea, since there is no airport on Fatu Hiva. It is also the island of “tapa” and you will discover all about this traditional cloth.

In the tranquil village of Omoa, you will see women pounding mulberry, banyan or breadfruit tree bark on logs. The bark is then dried and used as a canvas where the locals will paint ancient Marquesan designs. Fatu Hiva is also well-known for its hand-painted pareos (sarongs) and monoi, coconut oil infused with “Tiare Tahiti” blossoms, vanilla or sandalwood. You will meet skilled woodcarvers in the large handicraft center. This will be another great opportunity to purchase Marquesan art and souvenirs.

Before lunch, the Aranui will sail to the other side of the island, to jaw-dropping Hanavave Bay, also known as the Bay of Virgins. Athletic passengers may choose to make the trip on foot. On this unforgettable ten-mile hike you will take in breathtaking views of towering cliffs and majestic waterfalls. For hikers, a delicious lunch will be served at the top of a moutain. (Scale of difficulty 8/10)

Sunset in Hanavave Bay is a moment of pure bliss.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9
Ua Huka (Vaipaee/Hane/Hokatu)

In the early morning light, the Aranui will arrive in Ua Huka. This is one arrival not-to-be-missed! The maneuver entering the small bay and positioning the vessel for departure is truly impressive.

On the dry lands of Ua Huka, visit the small museum of Vaiapee located in the island’s city hall gardens. The museum features exquisite replicas of Marquesan art and our guides will immerse you in this ancient civilization.

Back onboard your 4WD , explore the island, stopping for stunning views of the Pacific, visit to the arboretum and botanical garden born from the passion of the island’s former mayor, before reaching the beautiful village of Hane. Lunch will be served at a local family restaurant.

On Ua Huka where the wild horses (brought from Chile in 1856) outnumber the inhabitants, horseback riding will be available (sign-up is required and an additional cost applies). Travelers choosing the horseback riding option will meet the rest of the group at the restaurant.

After lunch, continue discovering the island in the fishing village of Hokatu, or hike up to one of Hane’s viewpoints escorted by the ship’s guides. You may also choose to just relax on the beach.

Of course, Ua Huka will be another opportunity for art and crafts shopping. Wood carvings, as well as engraved coconut shells, are some of the island’s specialties.

Back onboard be sure to be out on deck as the Aranui sails along the coast of Ua Huka, for more gorgeous views. To end a brilliant day, a sumptuous buffet dinner will be served on deck for our Polynesian evening under the stars.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10
At Sea Crossing from Marquesas to Tuamotu

After an enchanting, enriching journey to the heart of Polynesian civilization, unwind or enjoy the various activities and lectures offered.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11
Rangiroa Atoll (Ohutu) - Tuamotu Islands

From the decks, watch the approach and arrival into French Polynesia’s largest atoll and the second largest in the world, Rangiroa. You may spot playful dolphins greeting the ship as we enter Tiputa Pass, one of Rangiroa’s two channels.

Snorkeling and scuba diving excursions are available (sign-up is required and an additional cost applies). Scuba diving in Rangiroa is rated as one of the best in the world (all levels welcome).

The Tuamotu atolls, with their pristine environment and pure waters, offer the ideal conditions for pearl farming. This will be your opportunity to visit a working pearl farm and learn how Tahiti’s famed jewel of the sea is produced. And if your dream is to bring one home, the small on-site store features a nice selection of loose and set pearls.

Should you decide not to go on any tours, enjoy Rangiroa’s white sand beach and translucent lagoon. The local “mamas” will have an excellent display of shell necklaces, key chains, and other small souvenirs for sale on the beach.

The Aranui will depart in the afternoon and sail to the mythical island of Bora Bora.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12
Bora Bora (Vaitape) - Society Islands

Arriving in Bora Bora’s world-famous lagoon of opalescent blues and greens, you will be greeted by majestic Mount Otemanu, the island’s highest peak. In this picture-perfect island paradise, you will enjoy a day at the beach and another delicious picnic, on a private “motu” islet surrounded by crystalline waters.

You may also choose from a variety of excursions at an additional cost: circle island tour by boat or bus, helicopter flight, 4WD off-road tour and one of the most popular for the bravest: shark and ray feeding!

Bora Bora was a US military outpost during World War II and remnants from the war such as cannons and bunkers can be seen on the 4WD tour.  Evening departure for Papeete.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13
Arrival in Tahiti

Morning arrival into Papeete by 9:00 AM and guests disembark.


Additional information

Official language
CFP franc
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12 nights
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Cultural, Nature
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April - December 2021

Important notes

This itinerary may be modified due to technicalor meteorological reasonsor freight constraints.In the case of bad weather, disembarkment maynot be possible for safety reasons.

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