Aranui 5 Begins Luxury Freighter Service to Marquesas

The Aranui 5 arrives in Papeete Harbor, Tahiti for first time.

The Aranui 5 arrives in Papeete Harbor, Tahiti for first time, December, 2015.

Editor’s note: Kevin Kalley and David Currier, the “crew” of Kevin’s Travel Journal, traveled to the Marquesas Islands in April, 2015 on the Aranui 3. This is definitely the cruise for travelers who enjoy the remote, unusual vacation experiences.

The brand new 254-passenger Aranui 5 passenger-freighter ship has arrived to its home port of Papeete, Tahiti and held its  its inaugural sailing on Dec. 12, 2015. The new ship is a custom-built, dual-purpose vessel that sails from Tahiti to the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands in French Polynesia on a 14-day all-inclusive itinerary. The Aranui 5 replaces the Aranui 3 which began service in 2003.

Aranui serves as a lifeline to the inhabitants of the Marquesas islands, bringing supplies to each principal village and several remote valleys 17 times per year. The 2016 schedule included the following travel dates:

Jan. 16 – Jan. 29 May 21 – June 3 Sept. 24 – Oct. 7
Feb. 6 – Feb. 19 June 11 – June 24* Oct. 15 – Oct. 28
Feb. 27 – March 11 July 2 – July 15 Nov. 5 – Nov. 18
March 19 – April 1 July 23 – Aug. 5 Nov. 26 – Dec. 9
April 9 – April 22 Aug. 13 – Aug. 26 Dec. 17 – Dec. 30
April 30 – May 13 Sept. 3 – Sept. 16*

On this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, passengers board the ship in Papeete, Tahiti, for a complete vacation experience sailing 800 miles north to some of most spectacular and remote islands in the world, where they will be fully immersed in the Polynesian culture. The Aranui 5 visits Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Bora Bora in the Society Islands, as well as Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata and Ua Huka in the Marquesas Islands.

The ship features 103 cabins specially designed with added space for passengers’ comfort and pleasure while the ship’s interior decor reflects the Polynesian heritage.

aranui 5 suite

Aranui 5 suite.

Travelers sailing on the Aranui 5 can select from eight different cabin categories with accommodations ranging from Premium exterior staterooms (more than 90 percent with a private balcony) and Standard exterior staterooms with a picture window or porthole to Class C shared dormitory style cabins with occupancy for four to eight people. Room categories are Presidential Suite, Royal Suite, Premium Suite, Junior Suite (without balcony), Superior Deluxe, Deluxe, Stateroom and Class C –providing a variety of room configurations.

Public areas on the Aranui 5 include a reception area, casual restaurant, four bars, including the Sky Bar with sweeping panoramic views, dancing room, two conference rooms, two lounges, library, video and computer room, boutique, outdoor swimming pool with a whirlpool, fitness room and massage room.

Dormitory cabin.

Dormitory cabin.

The decor features Marquesan designs, Paul Gauguin prints and original paintings by Erhard Lux, a German artist who lives part-time in Moorea. The ship also features air-conditioning in all passenger areas and indoor public spaces as well as two elevators.

The voyage includes shore experiences such as awe-inspiring hikes past waterfalls and sacred ritual sites, encounters with local artisans, a visit to French artist Paul Gauguin’s grave, snorkeling in the translucent waters of the atolls, on-island picnics and restaurant lunches featuring local food, a visit to a pearl farm and more.

The cruise includes three meals daily with complimentary wine for onboard lunches and dinners, guided excursions as outlined in the itinerary, picnics and meals on shore. Optional excursions such as scuba diving, horseback riding and fishing are available for an additional charge. Prices for an Aranui 5 vacation start at $2,781 per person and do not include port tax, cruise tax and tourism tax, which may total up to $243.

Aranui 5 being greeted by Marquesan dancers by Danee Hazama

Marquesan dancers perform at various ports and onboard the Aranui 5.

Featuring a primarily Polynesian crew composed of sailors from the Marquesas and throughout the Tahitian Islands, and with expert lecturers and guides, the Aranui 5 will provide a unique spin on hospitality which combines with mesmerizing scenery to create an unforgettable soft-adventure and cultural experience.

Due to popular demand, the recently launched Aranui 5 deluxe passenger-freighter ship is increasing its scheduled departures for 2017 with two additional voyages to accommodate traveler requests.

“We have increased the number of voyages for the Aranui 5 in 2017 due to incremental interest since its launch in December 2015. Guests can now choose from 19 expeditions to some of the most remote islands in the world,” said Eric Wong, Executive Vice President for Aranui.

The 2017 schedule is:

Jan. 10 – Jan. 23 May 2 – May 15 Aug. 24 – Sept. 6
Jan. 28 – Feb. 10  May 20 – June 2  Sept. 12 – Sept. 25
Feb. 16 – March 1  June 8 – June 21 Sept. 30 – Oct. 13
March 7 – March 20 June 27 – July 10 Oct. 19 – Nov. 1
March 25 – April 7   July 18 – July 31 Nov. 7 – Nov. 20
April 13 – April 26  Aug. 5 – Aug. 18   Nov. 25 – Dec. 8

 Dec.14 – 27

Guests traveling on the December 14-27, 2017 voyage will have the opportunity to experience the Marquesan Mini Arts Festival, where they will learn about the colorful history and rich culture of the Marquesas Islands.

For more information or to book an Aranui vacation, call 800-972-7268 or visit

Photography: Danee Hazama

aranui 5