Aranui 5-February 14-26, 2019.
Papeete was a bustling hub of activity. The night before our Aranui 5 cruise, we lodged at the Hotel Tiare Tahiti on the Main Street (Boulevard Pomare) facing the harbour: reasonable rates, pristine but ... Read More
Aranui 5-February 14-26, 2019.
Papeete was a bustling hub of activity. The night before our Aranui 5 cruise, we lodged at the Hotel Tiare Tahiti on the Main Street (Boulevard Pomare) facing the harbour: reasonable rates, pristine but very clean, staff accommodating. Check-in was 2:00 pm. but the hotel desk lady got us in earlier. The only downside was no bottled water in the room. If you arrive late, try to refill a water bottle on the plane. Highlight, with a room facing the harbour, was an outstanding balcony view of the Aranui 5 docking the night before our trip.
Aranui 5 deluxe balcony accommodations were excellent. Picking a cabin on the port side, rear section was the right choice. Most of the harbour docking views were on that side of the ship. One morning, we were treated with a view of a group of sting rays frolicking in the bay and mountain goats climbing the huge cliffs on another occasion. Cabin has the usual amenities such as shampoo, shower gel, bar soap, body lotion, robe, slippers, refrigerator, ice bucket, TV, and Kleenex. Motion of the ship was a surprising treat for me. Unlike large ocean ships who attempt to control movement, this ship offered a cradle like rocking at night as it moved along. I always fell asleep like a baby.
Meals are all served except breakfast which is buffet fashion. The staff is out of this world friendly, attentive and helpful. My husband has mobility issues and uses a cane. The muscular, hardy crew were always there to give a helping hand to everyone. Orientation meetings were thorough but sometimes difficult to understand in English. Raimana, Valentina, George and Pearl, who spoke perfect English, were the only guides we really understood. Also, we really appreciated all the help and Tahitian dance classes that were facilitated by Pearl, the entertainment director. The French and German interpreters were very good because they were either French or German nationality. The majority of the passengers were Parisian French (103), next in equal parts were English speaking and German (106) and eleven local Polynesians.
I have to make mention of the weather. It is very hot and humid with the emphasis on the humidity. My husband and I, who are seniors, found the heat hard to survive at times but the Aranui staff were very accommodating as far as leaving a tour early to go back to the air conditioned ship. We were very fortunate on this trip because we did not have any rain.
The itinerary, during the course of the trip, was interesting but the true highlight is the feast for your eyes and imagination. Entertainment in the evening is limited but we were so exhausted after a day of touring that a relaxing moment on the balcony with a Hinano beer, revelling in the beautiful scenery, was enough for us. Never watched TV or bought internet time. It was true freedom from our high tech. world. Hinano and Heineken beer had a “bucket” package. If you bought 5 beers, the 6th one was free. (2000 francs or $20.00 U.S.) Their Hinano beer was excellent and we are not real beer drinkers. Gratuities are collected at the end if you wish to give extra for the staff. The staff is so great you will want to tip extra. Red and white wine were French in origin. Red Malbec is good and both medium dry, white wines were quite palatable.
Tips for the first time traveller on the Aranui 5:
-Bring a refillable water bottle or keep the two free bottles they provide in your refrigerator at the beginning of your trip because they have water stations throughout the ship. We were on deck 8 near the elevators and one was located there. They are located on other alternate decks as well. Also a water truck followed us for some tours and we could refill them.
-Bring a light weight backpack or wear a Fanny Pack like me because I detest backpacks that bump into everyone on a tour. Fanny Pack should be able to fit lengthwise, a 16 oz. water bottle. I also have an over the shoulder strap with a water holder device at the end for short jaunts into a village.
-I found a hand, fabric fan was handy in my Fanny Pack to fan myself while stopped for tour descriptions. I also put a small cloth for face wiping in my pack as well.
-Bring Deet bug spray to defend against nonos and mosquitos. I usually have a problem with the critters but not with the spray on. Had no problems with bugs whatsoever!
-Bring strong suntan lotion as the sun is intense. Fair skinned me was all right with Neutrogena 60 SPF-FPS.
-Bring aqua shoes if you are squeamish about venturing into unfamiliar waters for a swim. Also the Aranui has their own very unique WW 2 like barges that land on the swimming beach for you to disembark. The front of the barge drops down on shore and you walk onto the beach area.
-Pick a balcony cabin if you can. Why a balcony cabin? You get two free laundries with Aranui but it was our experience we were rinsing out sweaty things after each tour and hanging them on the balcony chairs. Dried in a matter of hours. Buy some Dollar Store lounge chair clips to hold them on the chairs because there are strong winds while sailing.
-Pack some Dollar Store wire hangers in your outer suitcase pocket for the closet and the clips to attach skirts and pants. Also, I packed my clothes in the fabric, mesh packing cases I purchased from our Dollar Store. Much easier to access and items of clothing are relegated to individual containers. Ready to go home, you just throw them into your suitcase.
-Bring a hat with a neck strap as there is a lot of barge tendering from ship to shore.
-Bring your own decaffeinated tea. I made a suggestion on the mid-sailing questionnaire to provide it but to be safe, pack your own. They have “instant” decaffeinated coffee only at the stations for breakfast and in the lounge.
-Clothing is very casual but some people, like myself, like to wear something a little dressier at dinner time but not formal or not even semi-formal. My husband would wear casual dress pants to compliment my attire which was dressy casual.
-As expected, they have a dress-up Polynesian Night so throw in an Hawaiian flowered shirt or pareo into your luggage or buy one before you leave Papeete. Store on board provides these items as well.
-Take a picture of your daily itinerary before you set out each day then you will have each place downloaded with your daily pictures as the names of the islands are difficult to remember.n
We thoroughly enjoyed the Aranui 5 experience and the people we met but wished we had been 30 years younger in order to participate in the unique, exploratory hikes offered for the individual islands. Read Less