Explore French Polynesia on this Unique 14-day Cruise!
Cruise Norway is Proud to Introduce Aranui and its Ship, the Aranui 5!
Aranui provides 14-day voyages year ’round exploring French Polynesia aboard the brand-new Aranui 5. This working-class ship, launched in the fall of 2015, is the lifeblood for the small islands of the region, including the Tuamotus and the Marquesas island chains.
On this voyage, you will see a number of remote islands and atolls as you travel from Tahiti through the Tuamotus and the Marquesas and then back to Tahiti.
Along the way, you’ll experience authentic French Polynesia culture amid a natural paradise unspoiled by civilization.
Day 1: Papeete, Tahiti
You’ll begin your journey in Papeete, Tahiti.
Day 2: Tuamotu Archipelago – Takapoto
Morning arrival in the small oval-shaped atoll of Takapoto located in the Tuamotu Archipelago. A short walk through the village brings you to a white sand beach. On this little paradise, enjoy a delicious barbecue picnic, swim and snorkel in the translucent lagoon among the colorful ballet of tropical fish. Arts & crafts will be available at the beach. Return to vessel by 3:30pm.
Day 3: At Sea
A day to unwind and relax on one of the sun decks or in the comfort of our air-conditioned lounge. Or why not simply enjoy the views of the endless South Pacific Ocean as we make our way to the captivating Marquesas Islands.
Lectures on Marquesan culture and history will send you back in time and give you full insight into this ancient civilization. During the cruise, you will also get the opportunity to learn how to move your hips like a true Tahitian!
You will probably spend many evenings socializing at the bar with your fellow adventurers from around the world. The spirited Polynesian crew will proudly introduce you to their way of life and entertain you with Polynesian songs and rhythms on their ukuleles, guitars and drums.
Day 4: Nuku Hiva (Taiohae-Hatiheu-Taipivai)
Be out on deck to fully appreciate our arrival into Taiohae’s spectacular bay, a giant volcanic amphitheater dominated by towering cliffs streaked with waterfalls. As the Aranui unloads its freight, you can explore Taiohae, the Marquesas’ small administrative center.
Taiohae Bay is where 23-year-old Herman Melville and his buddy jumped a whaling ship in 1842. Follow their escape route by 4-wheel drive along steep, winding dirt mountain roads to the village of Hatiheu to visit the archaeological site of Kamuihei.
Lunch will be served at Yvonne’s Restaurant, one of the best in the Marquesas. Here, the specialty is the “Hima’a”, where food is cooked for hours in an underground oven. You will meet the owner and Chef, Yvonne, who also happens to be the town’s energetic former mayor.
After lunch, travel to Taipivai Valley. The area is dotted with stone tikis and sacred ritual sites (me’ae) and immense stone platforms (paepae) on which the Taipi built their houses. Enigmatic petroglyphs of birds, sacred turtles and fish are carved on huge boulders. Hikers can take a steep trail to visit the Paeke site.
The Aranui’s whaleboats will pick you up from Taipivai Beach (the ship will be anchored in the bay).
Day 05: Ua Pou (Hakahau-Hakahetau)
From the decks, you’ll see the soaring mountain spires unique to Ua Pou.
While the crew unloads supplies, from cement to sugar, and loads sacks of copra (dried coconut meat) and fruit, explore the quaint village of Hakahau and its church featuring a hand-carved wooden dais.
Meet the island’s talented woodcarvers and artists, hike up the hill to the Cross for breathtaking views of the mountains, the lush valleys and the main village.
At Rosalie’s Restaurant, another delicious Marquesan lunch will be served: breadfruit, a Marquesan staple, along with curried goat (one of the Marquesas Islands’ specialties), poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk), taro and sweet red bananas. Enjoy an excellent dance performance including the Bird Dance, traditional to Ua Pou.
Day 06: Tahuata (Vaitahu) & Hiva Oa (Atuona)
In the morning, the Aranui will anchor off the small island of Tahuata. On this leaf-shaped island, the air is thick with the fragrant scent of tiare, frangipani and history.
In 1595, Spanish explorers landed in the village of Vaitahu and opened fire on a crowd of curious islanders, killing about 200. Tahuata is also the site of the first French settlement in the Marquesas in 1842. The large church built by the Vatican, is decorated with beautiful Marquesan carvings and a stunning stained glass window.
Tahuata is famous for its exquisite bone and helmet shell carvings. There will be many to choose from in the village.
Back on board by 10:00am to sail to the island of Hiva Oa.
Hiva Oa (Atuona)
Atuona, the second largest village in the Marquesas, is where artist Paul Gauguin lived and did some of his best work. Visit the colonial store where Gauguin shopped, as well as a replica of the Impressionist’s infamous “House of Pleasure” and the adjoining museum. As you walk up the hill to the cemetery, take time to enjoy sweeping views of the bay.
Beneath a huge frangipani tree is a tombstone with the simple words: Paul Gauguin 1903. Nearby, pay homage to another famous European who was also seduced by Hiva Oa: Belgian singer-composer Jacques Brel, who died in 1978.
You will enjoy a lavish Marquesan lunch at Hoa Nui, a family-run restaurant. There will be free time in the village in the afternoon or for the most active, a beautiful hike to a scenic viewpoint (scale of difficulty 7/10).
Day 07: Fatu Hiva (Omoa-Hanavave)
This is the most lush and remote island of the Marquesas. The only access is by sea, since there is no airport on Fatu Hiva. It is also the island of “tapa” and you will discover all about this traditional cloth.
In the tranquil village of Omoa, you will see women pounding mulberry, banyan or breadfruit tree bark on logs. The bark is then dried and used as a canvas where the locals will paint ancient Marquesan designs. Fatu Hiva is also well-known for its hand-painted pareos (sarongs) and monoi, coconut oil infused with “Tiare Tahiti” blossoms, vanilla or sandalwood. You will meet skilled woodcarvers in the large handicraft center. This will be another great opportunity to purchase Marquesan art and souvenirs.
Before lunch, the Aranui will sail to the other side of the island, to jaw-dropping Hanavave Bay, also known as the Bay of Virgins. Athletic passengers may choose to make the trip on foot. On this unforgettable ten-mile hike you will take in breathtaking views of towering cliffs and majestic waterfalls. For hikers, a delicious lunch will be served at the top of a moutain. (Scale of difficulty 8/10)
Sunset in Hanavave Bay is a moment of pure bliss.
Day 08: Hiva Oa (Puamau)
In Puamau, travel by foot or by 4WD to the most incredible archaeological site for “tikis” (ancient, human- like religious stone sculptures) outside of Easter Island. Once you reach Mea’e Ipona, our knowledgeable guides will tell you the stories of these haunting statues of ancient times. Surrounded by beautifully lush grounds, the site is overwhelming and has a lot of what Polynesians call “mana” (spiritual power).
Only a small part of the site has been restored and most of it is still buried under massive trees and rocks.
On the way back to the ship (you may choose to walk or go by 4WD), enjoy a stop to swim at a beautiful black sand beach (depending on water conditions).
During lunch, the ship will make its way to the village of Hanaiapa.
In the afternoon, explore the quaint village of Hanaiapa that locals often refer to as the botanical garden, for its colorful flowers, and large variety of plants and trees.
Day 09: Ua Huka (Vaipaee-Hane-Hokatu)
In the early morning light, the Aranui will arrive in Ua Huka. This is one arrival not-to-be-missed! The maneuver entering the small bay and positioning the vessel for departure is truly impressive.
On the dry lands of Ua Huka, visit the small museum of Vaiapee located in the island’s city hall gardens. The museum features exquisite replicas of Marquesan art and our guides will immerse you in this ancient civilization.
Back onboard your 4WD , explore the island, stopping for stunning views of the Pacific, visit to the arboretum and botanical garden born from the passion of the island’s former mayor, before reaching the beautiful village of Hane. Lunch will be served at a local family restaurant.
On Ua Huka where the wild horses (brought from Chile in 1856) outnumber the inhabitants, horseback riding will be available (sign-up is required and an additional cost applies). Travelers choosing the horseback riding option will meet the rest of the group at the restaurant.
After lunch, continue discovering the island in the fishing village of Hokatu, or hike up to one of Hane’s viewpoints escorted by the ship’s guides. You may also choose to just relax on the beach.
Of course, Ua Huka will be another opportunity for art and crafts shopping. Wood carvings, as well as engraved coconut shells, are some of the island’s specialties.
Back onboard be sure to be out on deck as the Aranui sails along the coast of Ua Huka, for more gorgeous views.
To end a brilliant day, a sumptuous buffet dinner will be served on deck for our Polynesian evening under the stars.
Day 10: Nuku Hiva (Taiohae) & Ua Pou (Hakahau)
The ship’s final day in the captivating Marquesas Islands! The Aranui will dock in the Bay of Taiohae, in Nuku Hiva. You may take the local shuttle “Le Truck” or walk to the town center for some free time.
At noon, the ship will sail to Ua Pou, and dock in the village of Hakahau. You may hike up to the Cross once again, stroll around the village, or just spend a lazy afternoon on the beach. This is your last chance for Marquesan art and souvenirs.
Day 11: At Sea
Day 12: Rangiroa, Tuamotu Islands
From the decks, watch our approach and arrival into French Polynesia’s largest atoll and the second largest in the world. You may spot playful dolphins greeting the ship as we enter Tiputa Pass, one of Rangiroa’s two channels.
Snorkeling and scuba diving excursions are available (sign-up is required and an additional cost applies). Scuba diving in Rangiroa is rated as one of the best in the world (all levels welcome).
The Tuamotu atolls, with their pristine environment and pure waters, offer the ideal conditions for pearl farming. This will be your opportunity to visit a working pearl farm and learn how Tahiti’s famed jewel of the sea is produced. And if your dream is to bring one home, the small on-site store features a nice selection of loose and set pearls.
Should you decide not to go on any tours, enjoy Rangiroa’s white sand beach and translucent lagoon. The local “mamas” will have an excellent display of shell necklaces, key chains, and other small souvenirs for sale on the beach.
The Aranui will depart in the afternoon and sail to the mythical island of Bora Bora.
Day 13: Society Islands – Bora Bora
Arriving in Bora Bora’s world famous lagoon of opalescent blues and greens, you will be greeted by majestic Mount Otemanu, the island’s highest peak.
In this picture-perfect island paradise, you will enjoy a day at the beach and another delicious picnic, on a private “motu” islet surrounded by crystalline waters.
You may also choose from a variety of excursions at an additional cost: circle island tour by boat or bus, helicopter flight, 4WD off-road tour and one of the most popular for the bravest: shark and ray feeding!
Bora Bora was a US military outpost during World War II and remnants from the war such as cannons and bunkers can be seen on the 4WD tour. Evening departure for Papeete.
Day 14: Papeete, Tahiti
Morning arrival in Papeete by 9:00am. Safe trip home with these memories.