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Video copyright Aranui 3.
Aranui, a 14 days adventure cruise in the French Polynesia, Marquesas islands, begins the journey from Tahiti to Fakarava, Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Rangiroa and back to Papeete.
An amazing cruise, sailing 800 miles north from Tahiti to the unspoiled Marquesas Islands on a custom-built passenger-freighter, described as "a cargo vessel with cruise ship comforts". This all-inclusive 14 day cruise sails 17 times a year and visits two Tuamoto atolls and six high islands in the Marquesas.
Our state-of-the art ship offers tasteful, spacious suites. All have windows. On the sweeping decks, read, relax or take in the views of pristine lagoons and soaring mountain spires. Take a dip in our sparkling outdoor swimming pool. In our expanded dining room, savor fine French and Polynesian cuisine with fellow adventurers from around the world. Lose calories in the gym or exercise your mind in the library.
On board, time passes quickly. There are two charming bars, two lounges and a full program of activities. You'll learn about Marquesan history, culture and art from our guest lecturers. And our spirited crew will teach you to weave hats, wear our national dress, the pareo and dance the tamure.
In our library you can read how Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson and Thor Heyerdahl described these alluring islands. Their words and the Gauguin prints on the walls will spring to life when we dock.
Each of the 15 stops provides a new vista and experience. Join villagers in their welcoming songs and dances, visit Melville's Typee, Paul Gauguin's grave, archeological sites with ancient stone tikis, sacred ritual sites, petroglyphs; all surrounded by volcanic mountains, flowers and greenery. In small villages, meet artisans and woodcarvers, see tapa cloth prepared and decorated and smell the fragrant monoi coconut oil. Visit museums and churches and enjoy picnics and 4 included lunches at local restaurants.
You'll never forget sailing into Nuku Hiva's spectacular bay, a giant volcanic amphitheater dominated by towering cliffs streaked with majestic waterfalls. There are dramatic dive sites or heartstopping views by helicopter. A decade before he wrote Moby Dick, 23-year-old Herman Melville jumped his whaling ship here in 1842. We'll retrace his escape route on a spectacular Jeep safari over the mountains to mysterious jungle river valley, still much the same as Melville described it in his autobiographical first novel -- Typee. Hidden amidst the bamboo and vanilla vines, you'll see stone tiki gods, sacred ritual sites and enigmatic petroglyphs of birds, fish and sacred turtles and fish carved on boulders.
Hiva Oa is where Paul Gauguin's search for an unspoiled island ended. This artist with a lust for life painted his final masterpieces here. In the hill top cemetery where Gauguin is buried is the gravestone of another European who also was seduced by these islands -- singer-composer Jacques Brel. Our guides will show you mysterious jungle ruins -- the largest tikis outside the Easter Islands. Once used for religious rites, these human-like stone sculptures are reminders of that a great civilization flourished here before the Europeans invaded.
Even though Fatu Hiva is a center of Marquesan culture, Aranui passengers usually are the only visitors to this remote, verdant island. We'll see artists painting ancient designs on tapa cloth, making pareos (sarongs) and monoi, coconut oil scented with tiare blossoms. We'll see woodworkers carving intricate bowls and spears. After hiking past towering cliffs with dizzying views of majestic waterfalls, cool off with a plunge in a secluded river pool.
On Ua Huka, the wild horses outnumber the 300 residents. Explore by horse or by jeep - either way, you'll have magnificent views. Along the way, you'll enjoy bounteous Marquesan buffets: barbecued rock lobster, poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and soaked in coconut milk), curried goat, breadfruit, taro and sweet red bananas.
Throughout your journey excellent guides and a guest lecturer will explain the history and culture of these mystical islands. This soft adventure and cultural experience is truly the trip of a lifetime!