I booked this cruise in late 2020 after nearly a year spent at home during the pandemic. It looked like a perfect escape and an email promised great discounts for early 2021. Voyage 9 was to depart in late May, and we chose that trip. It turned out to be a good decision. Aranui paid for our flights between Tahiti and LAX, our 5 days total pre and post cruise at the Pearl Beach resort, and gave a discount on our suite.
We had sailed on this itinerary about ten years before on the Aranui 3, but I had forgotten how beautiful the islands were.
The Aranui 5 is bigger and more comfortable, and due to the pandemic we had only about 70 passengers, 24 Americans and 46 French Polynesians including a number of children. There were no Europeans due to COVID restrictions. Reviews talked about some minor tensions between French, Germman, and English speaking passengers, but we all got along well together. We had assigned seating at tables based on language, but we still mixed well. The meals were great, the crew shared the bar, and the whole crew were glad to be back at work. In all the islands the people were glad to see the tourists return, they had a lot of beautiful hand made souvenirs to sell! The ten mile walk on Naku Hiva was too difficult for us, I recommend the 4WD trip over the mountains.