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In the category dream boats, here is one on which I would see myself embarking one day: the mythical Aranui, to go to the Marquesas Islands!
The Arnaui, a life line for the Marquesans
Aranuiit means "the big way". A name well chosen for this ship that makes a very long crossing: 1,500 km north-east of Tahiti, the Marquesas is really the end of the world ... Impossible to fit them in my itinerary, during my first (too short) trip to Polynesia in 2012.
TheAranui dumps foodstuffs and manufactured products and embarks copra, fruits, fish ... The arrival of the boat is always an event. This is a real life line for islanders.
In early 2016, I discover that a brand new ship, theAranui 5, has just been commissioned. As his name does not indicate, he succeedsAranui 3, which has been running since 2003.
Explanation? The boat having been built in China, where the number 4 is not good luck, they preferred to go directly to the number 5! 😀
From cargo ship to cruise liner
Since 1984, the peculiarity of theAranui, which fascinates travelers, is to be a "mixed" cargo ship, also carrying passengers in addition to goods.
Today, more than thirty years later, the "cruise" part is no longer anecdotal: the new Aranui can accommodate up to 254 passengers! It is now positioned on the upscale, offering luxurious cabins, with balcony.
I looked a bit at the prices ... For a full two-week cruise in 2016, it starts around € 2,400 for a berth in the "dormitory" cabin and it then spreads to the presidential suite at more than 7 000 € per person ... In addition, you must do well in advance to book. Places on the mythical ocean liner of the South Seas are in great demand.
Dream of Marquesas
But the idea of arriving in the Marquesas, isolated in the middle of the huge Pacific Ocean, by boat rather than by plane, it makes me really dream ...
There is something. The archipelago consists of twelve high islands without lagoon (six are inhabited) with vertiginous cliffs, rugged terrain, unspoilt nature. The Marquesas inspired Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville, they captivated Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel (who rely on Hiva-Oa). They speak to our imagination and Polynesian culture draws its roots ... And we can also dive!
In short, I do not know when I will manage to organize such a trip, but I will go to the Marquesas one day, that's for sure!