I am not a fan of big cruise ships..never had much interest in them as I prefer more intimate travel with few people along and more independent sightseeing. I had read about and followed the Aranui for over 40 years and having traveled by freighter as a small child wanted to experience the sea in this way once again. This trip exceeded all my very high expectations. The Marquesas islands are amazing, the last (perhaps) unspoiled incredible vista's on the planet. My camera just didn't do the islands justice so beautiful and mesmerizing. I did over the last year read and re-read all the reviews and thought the "Hamiltonlovebirds" did a great job in suggesting items to bring...I would add a couple, binoculars which I brought and used daily. I would also bring dog treats as the dogs on some of the islands were very skinny and looked like they would appreciate a treat!
I love the ship and the trip...every moment I relished and enjoyed. I am also in my 70's however I as well as 2 other 70's women made the trek from Omoa to Hanaveve on Fatu Hiva (not Nuku Hiva) and were richly rewarded with priceless views. However I did train by hiking at home in Colorado at altitude. Even so it was steep...very steep up and steeper down. Very few N American's on the trip but all passengers were great and with great attitudes, met some really nice and very fun people. I thought the entertainment was fun and everyone seemed to enjoy...the Passengers put on a show which was great. Glad we did a last minute upgrade to superior deluxe as the comfortable chair gave my husband a nice place to read in the Cabin. Don't expect much wifi ...no reliable wifi on ship and had to go to wifi "cafe"'s on some of the Islands to check email. Be prepared to unplug for your trip and enjoy the ocean and Islands.
Even though we went in the "rainy" season our weather was actually quite nice. Warm and humid but not intolerable and on the hike as soon as you get about 500 ft up the weather was cooler and breezy so that was not the problem I thought it would be. The hike to the cross on another Island was a bit more humid but it wasn't that long. Although we did have a couple of beach/snorkling days they were on the Tuamoto islands. The Marquesas do have some diving but not really good beaches for swimming/snorkling. Best for hiking and visiting the villages...views are just amazing.
We had the Starboard side which is contrary to another review that preferred port. 8411 was perfect. It was above where the landing craft boarded and port side on several Islands. Also a short walk up to the Sky Bar where I had coffee with other early birds in the morning watching the sun rise and looking for land.