The price was considerable compared to the value. The food was always cold with only one choice smothered in French creamy Sauces. Plaster was the only offering six days in a row. Eggs were not available every second day. The Scranbled ... Read More
The price was considerable compared to the value. The food was always cold with only one choice smothered in French creamy Sauces. Plaster was the only offering six days in a row. Eggs were not available every second day. The Scranbled eggs was like sloppy porridge..
The Marquaseas offered no Swimming or Snorkeling opportunities. The Islands were dry and Barron and uninteresting.
The staff were very patronising to the point of rudeness when asked for something different. Asked for Playing Cards and received a pack with multiple of one cards and deficient others.
We sat in an open area on the Veranda for dinner one night and were asked to move because the French wanted our spot out of the wind. We refused to move and the next night the staff refused to serve us at dinner. When we complained the Supervisor sided with the stars. Surprise surprise.
Avoid at all cost. Take Windstar Wind Spirit instead. We have done it twice and it’s amazing. Read Less
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
Interesting concept of a combo freighter/cruise ship sailing to beautiful and remote Pacific islands. Unfortunately, the sevice and execution was lacking.
Food: The food was okay but, except for two of the dinners, there was no variety ... Read More
Interesting concept of a combo freighter/cruise ship sailing to beautiful and remote Pacific islands. Unfortunately, the sevice and execution was lacking.
Food: The food was okay but, except for two of the dinners, there was no variety and it is not recommended for those with special dietary needs. The table wine was okay.
Service: Poor. Our first impression was bad when the room keys did not work and it took maintenance to finally get us into our room. The person who escorted us to our cabin was quite rude on several occasions as were others working on the ship.
Fellow Passengers: 50% French, 25% German and 25% English speaking passengers were a well traveled, elderly lot. Most were pleasant, some were pushy.. Naturally, pacts formed based on languages spoken.
Tours: Ship run tours were not very good. The guides were not knowledgeable and/or well trained. A lot of time was wasted. We did have a great optional motorized canoe tour in Bora Bora. There was the feeling that the agenda and tours favored the French group. They were offered a tour the other groups were not. Most briefings were held inside during sunset, which was disappointing.
Itinerary: Excellent. The Marquesas, Tuamotus, and Society Islands make for a good mix and variety.
Weather: Hot and humid. We did not have much rain at all despite it being labeled 'rainy season'.
The ship: Excellent. The ARANUI 5 is well designed, especially given the dual purpose design requirements. Common rooms were clean and functional. The gym was small and uninspired with no windows. Nice to have access to the bridge and the Officers there were all very nice.
Intangibles: High. There were moments of magic and the experience factor was quite cool. Read Less
I read about the Aranui 3 many years ago and had been intrigued by the Marquesas islands ever since. I generally hate cruises, but I was on a freighter cruise before and liked the experience. Also the Marquesas Islands are so remote that ... Read More
I read about the Aranui 3 many years ago and had been intrigued by the Marquesas islands ever since. I generally hate cruises, but I was on a freighter cruise before and liked the experience. Also the Marquesas Islands are so remote that Aranui 5 is one of very few ways of getting there. I finally took the plunge this year. The cruise was part of my round-the-world trip. I could fly east (which means I'll start with Aranui 5) or fly west (which means I'll be on Aranui 5 before coming home). I decided to make the cruise the last stop. It turned out to be a good decision.
The ship was surprisingly well-appointed, considering it's a working freighter. The cabins are clean and comfortable (I had a cabin on Level 5 and I have visited cabins on other levels). The meals were rather good. The crew were very accommodating and helpful. The free laundry service on certain days was especially great for me, as I packed light.
The program was generally very good. Other than the two days at sea, we went onshore every day. The onshore program was generally well organized. I especially like the hikes, including the arduous 10-mile hike on Fatu Hiva, in the Marquesas. The program included alternatives for those who prefer not to be active. On board, there were talks on Marquesian and Polynesian history and culture; a talk about Marquesian tattoos was especially interesting. All notices, talks and presentations were given in three languages: English, French and German, at different times or in different venues. Most passengers were friendly and solo travelers like didn't seem to have an issue mixing with different groups. The program also involved activities with passenger participation. including a fashion show, and performances on Polynesian Night.
It was interesting to watch cargo being loaded and unloaded after the ship had dropped anchor or docked. The highlight of course was the gorgeous Marquesas Islands, with lush vegetation, spiky peaks, deep canyons, cliffs plunging into the turquoise blue sea. We visited all 6 inhabited islands (I understand these are only inhabited islands in the Marquesas). Each one is a little different. Nuku Hiva was the first Marquesas Island we visited. After a short hike in the morning and a nice lunch, we were driven by SUVs to an archeological site. In the forest at the bottom of the site, we watched locals dancers perform traditional dances in front of a huge banyan tree, which was supposed to be more than 600 years old. It was magical.
The guides warned us about mosquitoes and "nono" flies, but insect repellant did its job.
There were swimming opportunities on a couple of the islands, and also in Rangiroa and Bora Bora, the 2 Society Islands we visited before returning to Papeete.
The crew especially deserve praise. They were always polite, helpful, and resourceful. A few times the ocean was a little rough, so the barge was bobbing up and down alongside the ship, but the crew got everyone safely on and off the barge. The dining room crew were equally fabulous - if we wanted our meat well-done, or no garlic in any dish, or just fruit instead of desert, no problem. They were always so cheerful that it was contagious. I still smile every time I think of the dining room crew at work.
There were some small glitches, but nothing serious (they were so minor that I can'r remember any). The cruise was a perfect ending to this round-the-world trip. Read Less
I had been to the Marquesas Islands on a sailboat in 2002 and wanted to share this unique part of the world with my wife. This cruise was an amazing two week trip and cultural immersion of French Polynesia and especially the Marquesas ... Read More
I had been to the Marquesas Islands on a sailboat in 2002 and wanted to share this unique part of the world with my wife. This cruise was an amazing two week trip and cultural immersion of French Polynesia and especially the Marquesas Islands. Having been here before, my wife and I really enjoy this part of the world, and especially the nice people.
We have heard all of the complaints - it is too far - it is too expensive - they speak French and the French are snooty - blah , blah , blah. Nonsense all........................................
Yes - they do speak French, but the people are exceptionally nice there. It may not be paradise, but PF (Polynese Frances) is about as close to the garden of Eden as you can get. Get this - lots of fish that are easy to catch, delightful climate (too warm for a lot of folks), many varieties of fruit falling off the trees, cheap French wine, and really nice people. Not too bad.
This was our fourth trip to PF as a couple and my fifth. This time, we took the very unique "adventure cruise” on the Arenui5. This is a very unique cruise indeed as the Arenui5 is 1/2 cruise ship and 1/2 freighter. It is a very small ship (as we found out) - only 7500 tons of displacement. Compare this to the current supply of cruise ships. The smallest ship that we have been on before was the Pacific Princess that was about 30,000 tons. Most cruise ships these days weigh in at over 100,000 tons. I have been looking at the “Aranui" cruises since way back in 2002 when I sailed the Marquesas and Tuomotu islands with my buddy on his 42 foot sailboat. A bonus was that on our 11/7/17 sailing, Maurice Bligh was the guest lecturer on the ship. He is the great great grandson of the famous Captain Bligh of the famous HMAV Bounty.
We had read extensively about the famous mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. We landed two days early in Tahiti for the cruise. To get in the swing of things, we took a side trip to Point Venus and Matavai Bay where the great explorers (Wallis, Bouganville, Cook, and Bligh) anchored their ships upon arrival in PF. This is a must see for history buff cruisers.
The next morning (Tuesday 11/7) , we got to the ship early (7:00) as it was “all aboard” for sailing at 9:00AM (actual departure was 10:00). The ship loads cargo for 3-5 days at the commercial side of the harbor. Then it comes around to the “cruise pier” at the waterfront in Papeete for boarding the passengers. The Aranui5 is a new ship (2015) but different from most modern cruise ships. Except for the deluxe suites, dining room and lounge, the ship has linoleum floors and is far more austere than most cruise ships. It is owned by a Chinese family named Wong and to our surprise Mrs. Wong, the owner was a passenger on this cruise. (It is good to be the King) The ship was built for its exact purposes in China and it appears well built and safe - it was also subsidized by the French government to carry out it’s mission of supplying cargo to the Marquesas as well as to support the tourist trade.
While the passenger composition changes from voyage to voyage, our cruise was typical. About 50% of the passengers were French or Tahitian. 35% were Americans, Brits, Aussies and Kiwis - and 15% were Germans. Everyone was friendly and accommodating. We had fun even with the French folks who spoke little or no English. The ship has a crew of about 100 persons who are mostly of Marquesian heritage and who (except for some of the cargo and ship operations people) are always friendly and have good attitude. Even the operations crew people are not trying to be unfriendly, but have their heads into their sometimes very difficult and physically taxing jobs.
Meals are all inclusive and included. Breakfast (American style) starts at 6:00 on some days or more commonly 6:30 and runs till about 9:00. But you cannot rest on your laurels, as your language group may leave for your day trip as early as 7:30. Miss the shore boat and you will miss your entire day's excursion.
Lunch is very French style and starts at noon and includes 3 courses and wine that is not bad at all. The deserts are "over the top" French pastries, and all of the entres have a sauce some kind. Like I said very French.
Dinner is a similar French style affair with three courses (no choices unless you pre-order like vegetarian food). There are two "seatings" for dinner 7:30 and 8:00. Advice to all of the Americans.... Get on the ship early on the first day and sign up for early seating at the reception desk.
The ship sailed at 10:00 after a nice short Tahitian dance show on the aft deck. We settled into our very tight starboard cabin on Deck two. We had only a porthole in our cabin and it sits slightly above the waterline, but just barely when the ship goes out heavy with cargo as it did on our voyage. Our cabin was a blessing and a curse on this small ship.
Just out of port, water began to fill our widow (outside obviously) as if we were inside of a washing machine and it was fairly noisy. This proved to be an annoyance till the cargo was unloaded half way into the trip. The blessing was that, being low in the ship, there was less movement as the ship does not have stabilizer wings and rolls quite a bit.
This ship is like no other. As we left the port of Papeete, many of the pasengers went up on the bridge and watch as the ship eased out of the harbor. As a passenger, you are free to go up on the bridge at ANY time and interact with the crew. They are happy to explain the ship operations and only want to be left to their own devices when docking or leaving port. We spent quite a bit of time up there and you can just talk with the Captain and crew up there with no sense that you are invading their space.
This is truly a comprehensive “cruise” - it includes all shore excursions, all three meals (wine at lunch and dinner), and tour guides. They even include free laundry three times during the cruise. But they do not wash underwear or socks. We spent only $300 during the cruise on happy hour cocktails (1/2 price), one premium boat excursion, bike rentals, and souveneers in the excellent gift shop on board. Every day there is a briefing in your specific language at 5:00 or 6:00 to explain the next day’s activities. You are given a one page handout with very detailed info and maps on the next day’s activities. The "guides" are absolutely first class and answer all of your questions with class and a lot of great humor. They are all very intelligent and have a lot of experience. I cannot speak highly enough of the guides who are also watching out for your safety at every shore stop.
Our first port of call was Fakarava in the Touomotus archipelago. We arrived at 7:00AM and went through the narrow pass (channel) into the calm waters of the atoll.
All the passengers were on the bridge for this event, and an amazing experience it is to sail into an atoll and watch the arrival from the bridge. We all went ashore on the launch.
As there was no tour of this tiny town, you were free to spend the AM on a walk around the town, a swim, or as we did, rent bikes and go for a short 5-6 mile ride and swim.
Fakarava is a popular scuba diving destination and a UNESCO site. It is the third largest atoll in the world. It has less than 1000 inhabitants and the arrival of the Aranui5 every three weeks is a big deal.
We reborded the ship at noon. We then sailed out of the pass to our next destination of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands - approximately 600 miles NW of Fakarava.
The next day was a fairly calm full day at sea with the regular long French style meals with wine, bird watching, lectures and the 5:00 briefing on our next stop of Nuku Hiva.
At every stop there were well arranged excursions, transportation, lectures, cultural experiences, dancing and music concerts, and meals on shore or on the ship. This is an absolutely first class operation from the passenger perspective. But you must remember that freight transport is 1/2 of this ship's business, so on many if not most piers, you are dodging around pallets of freight or waiting for the freight lighter to be unloaded so that you can land on the small dock. Despite this, safety is a priority, and the ship personnel do an excellent job of caring for your safety. They get five stars in this area.
If you want to enjoy a lot of cocktails in a sleepy tropical environment - forget this cruise.
The cocktails while great are not the core of the experience. The cultural experience is absolutely fantastic and the ship is not bad either. If you are prone to sea sickness, get a scopollomine patch or meclazine before you sail. The ship is tender and rolls more than most modern cruise ships.
One of the coolest things was that on our last day on Bora Bora, we had a special excursion. I do not want to even tell you what we did, but the day was absolutely magical.It was a fantastic end to the voyage and a unique treat.
Finally when you land back in Papeete on the final day at 7:00AM, they do not give you the bums rush to exit the ship like they do on the big cruise ships. They land you in the commercial pier area where they will load cargo for the next 3-4 days. You have a nice breakfast and say your goodbyes. You exit the ship at your convenience. All very civilized and pleasant. Read Less
I choose the cruise because of the small number of passengers and the destinations.
This ship was not like a large cruise ship, no bingo and mostly all passengers embarked at the new island every day. Plus the crew mingled and ate in ... Read More
I choose the cruise because of the small number of passengers and the destinations.
This ship was not like a large cruise ship, no bingo and mostly all passengers embarked at the new island every day. Plus the crew mingled and ate in the dining room with the passengers, so u got to know the crew in this informal atmosphere. The food was good and the dining room crew were excellent.
One group made the cruise difficult by their selfish and insular attitude. If u could not speak their language, they were not interested. One group turned their back on me. As I was travelling on my own I had to find a dining room place at each meal. This group had to sit together (maybe they were on a group tour). I went to sit down at a table for two and they pulled me out as they were saving the seat for friends. The waiter came over and told me to see the Manageress of the Dining room, who said she was so ashamed with their behavior, it was not her responsibility. I was not the only one on the ship to have trouble with this group, as other people complained too. I do not know if the Ship depends of their patronage but they seemed to condone their behavior and treated them they like spoilt indulged children.
As this is not a cheap cruise I was disappointed that we were made to feel not the same as this group. They came first in everything, their language was the first message and of course when that ended they talked through the other language messages. They were always first in the barges or trucks and just pushed in when it suited them. The guides got very frustrated with them as they would not follow instructions. We seemed to be segregated after a while for on shore tours etc.
One particularly distressing incident occurred when one the passengers failed to return to the ship after a shore visit. This particular group were very annoyed that the itinerary was altered while the crew and local population searched for the passenger. The crew were visibly upset by this attitude, our lovely guide was in tears. Luckily the passenger was found the next afternoon.
I feel we could have been treated better, I have written to the Shipping company, but have not had a reply. Regardless of this I did meet some wonderful people for a lot of different countries who were good travelers.
The company could improve the quality of the shore excursions by training their guides in a more comprehensive way. The lack of local Flora and Fauna was telling. Read Less
We had been to the South Pacific 4 times before. We love the blue water and the friendly people. My husband wanted to go back again, but I wanted to do something different. So when we saw to ad for the Aranui 5 we decided to give it a ... Read More
We had been to the South Pacific 4 times before. We love the blue water and the friendly people. My husband wanted to go back again, but I wanted to do something different. So when we saw to ad for the Aranui 5 we decided to give it a try. We had a wonderful time. The people are very proud of their villages and want to share what they have. They can not wait for you to get off the ship and say hello. The Aranui 5 was only 6 months old when we went aboard. We had a nice large room on deck 7, the pool deck. We enjoy all the excursions that we went on. The only thing that I had a problem with, was it can be a little noisy at dinner time because everyone wants to talk about what they did during the day. We enjoy the ship so much that we have booked it for their maiden trip to the Pitcairn Islands in January 2019. Read Less