Aranui to explore more of French Polynesia, adds Cook Islands

Three new itineraries to 11 new island destinations

Tahitian cargo cruise line Aranui Cruises has added three itineraries to its 2021 program, taking guests to 11 new island destinations including the cruise line’s maiden voyage to the Cook Islands, an expanded Pitcairn itinerary and the first dedicated Society Islands cruise.

On sale now, the 2021 program features 21 scheduled cruises around the South Pacific on Aranui 5, a 125-metre mixed freight and passenger vessel, which offers one of the few remaining cargo cruise experiences in the world.

The 2021 program begins with a fresh take on the new Pitcairn voyage which debuted in 2019 and has fast become one of Aranui’s most popular annual itineraries. The revamped cruise to the Tuamotu, Gambier and Pitcairn islands* includes a new Tuamotu atoll – Hikueru – an overnight stay at Adamstown as well as the cruise line’s maiden visit to Pitcairn’s pristine Oneo Island, with picture-perfect white sandy beaches.

Departing 9 January, 2021, the 13-day cruise is priced from $8,486** per person twin share.

Aitutaki snorkel © Lionel Gouverneur

Aranui Cruises will offer its inaugural Cook Islands cruise on 4 September, 2021, with the 13-day roundtrip cruise from Papeete sailing past Pointe Venus en route to Aitutaki and Rarotonga, and returning via Rurutu, Rapa and Raivave in the Australs, and Tuamotu atoll Anaa. The Australs and Cook Islands* itinerary is priced from $8,152** per person twin share.

While the cruise line will continue to offer its classic itinerary to French Polynesia’s remote Marquesas islands where it has been delivering cargo and cruise passengers for more than 30 years, Aranui is offering its first foray into the famed Society Islands in 2021, with an exciting itinerary that combines Tahiti’s best-known islands with a few lesser-known gems.

The 12-day Society and Tuamotu* cruise departs Papeete on 8 May, 2021, and includes calls to Rangiroa, Fakarava and Makatea in the Tuamotus and the Society Islands’ Raiatea, Tahaa, Maupiti, Huahine, Moorea and Bora Bora, from $7,192** per person twin share.

When Aranui 5 anchors at Makatea on 11 May, 2021, it will be almost 50 years since the cruise line’s last visit as a local inter-island trader during the island’s phosphate boom. The tiny speck of an island – just eight kilometres long and five kilometres wide with a population of less than 100 – has since become famous as the island where David Schwimmer and Anne Heche holidayed in 90s film Six Days, Seven Nights.

Dancers onboard Aranui 5
Dancers onboard Aranui 5 © Roberto Serrini

Most (18) of Aranui Cruises’ departures in 2021 will be the cruise line’s original 13-day roundtrip cruise from Papeete to the Marquesas Islands, with cargo dispensed at remote island communities while guests disembark and explore a range of complimentary excursions including hikes, 4WD tours, local feasts and visits to archaeological sites at Hiva Oa, Nuka Hiva, Ua Pou, Ua Huka, Tahuata, and Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas; the Tuamotu ports of Rangiroa and Fakarava, and Bora Bora in the Society Islands.  Aranui 5’s Marquesas Islands cruises are priced from $7,135** per person twin share.

The 16 December, 2021, departure will feature an extended visit to Fatu Hiva for the biennial Marquesan Arts Festival.

Aranui Cruises Regional Representative Australia New Zealand Laurent Wong said the 2021 program was Aranui’s most diverse and exciting yet.

“French Polynesia is home to some 118 islands across five archipelagos and in 2021, we’ll be cruising to no less than 21 of them, as well as four destinations in the Cook Islands and Pitcairn. The new line-up includes Aitutaki’s beautiful blue lagoon, Pitcairn’s stunning and seldom-visited Oneo, culturally-rich Australs communities and idyllic Tuamotu atolls that are literally in the middle of nowhere,” Wong said.

Pitcairn St Paul's Pool
Pitcairn St Paul's Pool © Lionel Gouverneur

“We’ve been taking guests to the far-flung corners of French Polynesia for more than 30 years and while our regular voyage to the Marquesas will always be popular, we’re thrilled to be expanding our offering to show off the diverse people and places of our patch of the Pacific. With local crew, cuisine and culture, our special cargo cruise ship Aranui 5 is the most authentic way to see the beautiful Islands of Tahiti.”

To launch the 2021 program, the Tahitian adventure cruise line is offering a 10% discount across all cabin categories on the 28 January, 2021, departure with discounted staterooms starting from $6,458** per person twin share. A 10% senior’s discount is also available to travellers aged over 60 on the voyage departing 13 February, 2021.

Packed with value, an Aranui 5 cruise includes shore excursions such as hikes, 4WD tours, visits to archaeological sites and local feasts, a weekly laundry service, three meals per day and complimentary French wine with onboard lunches and dinners. Most of the crew are Polynesian.

Aranui 5 features a restaurant, two conference rooms, lounges, a library, a boutique, a swimming pool, a gym, a spa and four bars including the popular Sky bar.

Lead image: Lionel Gouverneur

Rarotonga aerial
Aerial view of Rarotonga © Lionel Gouverneur

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