French Polynesia cruise in the South Pacific
Dormitories are available and 8 different classes of cabin.
Description of French Polynesia cruise in the South Pacific
It’s normal to travel around the scattered islands of French Polynesia by boat. It’s unusual to travel on a hybrid between cruise ship and cargo freighter that’s also delivering the islands’ supplies and post. This trip takes you to the Marquesas Islands from Tahiti, via the Tuamotu Archipelago – a long voyage to a remote part of the world. Cabins range from sharing dormitories to suites with balconies.
Whilst the local crew are busy offloading supplies to their towns and families, you can explore the islands by booking into excursions as an optional extra – such as diving or glass bottomed boat tours, and trips on the islands.
French Polynesia is the kind of place spoken about in hushed tones by divers for the brilliance of its underwater life – Tahuata and Bora Bora suit beginners, but advanced divers can look forward to diving sites at Fakarava, Rangiroa and Hiva Oa.
This cruise departs from Tahiti and on the way to and from the Marquesa Islands you’ll spend time in Rangiroa Atoll, a stunning, massive lagoon that’s great for divers and snorkellers. There’s a glass bottomed boat available, too, if you want to stay dry.
Travelling takes time in the remote ocean. You’ll need to allow a full day at sea to cruise to the Marquesas from the Tuamotu Archipelago – and a second full day to return afterwards. On each passage you could join a weaving workshop or learn the ukelele. Your boat has a pool on board, plus massage room and small gym, plus lounges and two conference rooms where the crew run topical (and tropical) lectures.
Whether you’re on board or on shore, enjoy local food – there’s an abundant supply of fresh local fish – the much-exported coconut crab, plus fruit and veg. You can try delicacies from Marquesan underground ovens.
Once you reach the Marquesa islands, you’ll visit the islands of Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, Ua Huka, Hiva Oa, and Fatu Hiva. Your boat is the only way to visit any islands without runways. On the rugged, volcanic island Hive Oa you can see the grave of Paul Gauguin, On Fatu Hiva you can hike in the rainforest, or visit one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – the Bay of Virgins.
Returning towards Bora Bora via a pearl farm, you’ll think a pearl a befitting export for such a small and beautiful collection of islands.
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1 Reviews of French Polynesia cruise in the South Pacific
Reviewed on 01 Mar 2018 by William Bainbridge
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
The Marquesa Islands are amazing. The cultural shows and dances superb. The 10 mile hike is very worth doing but is not easy.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
If you are booking dormitory accommodation be aware that the top bunks are very confined. They are difficult to get in and out of (particularly if you are over 65) and only have a clearance of about 30 inches.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes - as the Aranui is also a cargo ship al locals benefit.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Interesting, but an awful lot of free time. If you are an active person trip tends to be a bit boring at times. Particularly as the gym is not very well equipped.
PlanetFrom 2016 these cruises have been running on a brand new, custom made vessel that is more fuel efficient, quieter and with less exhaust fumes, while having the capability of carrying even more freight and passengers than before, thus exponentially reducing the resources used in relation to the benefits gained.
The ship employs a crew of local people and as these islands are their home, no one understands better than they do how important preserving the local environment is.
All waste generated on these cruises is disposed of in a responsible manner. As much waste as possible is recycled, and otherwise all non-recyclable waste is brought back for disposal at approved sites.
Almost all the food served on board is fresh, and grown locally, especially the fruit, vegetables and fish. Not only does this put money into the local economy, but it vastly reduces ‘food miles’ of the produce served on board, and almost all of those food miles are carried on the vessel we are traveling on.
By providing accommodation on board our ship, we are enabling visitors in healthy, but restricted, numbers to visit the islands without overusing the scarce resources available on those islands.
PeopleThere are few places in the world where the local community relies so heavily on tourism to provide a lifeline to the outside world. The ship is a very unusual blend of freighter, ferry and cruise ship that provides an absolutely vital link to the Marquesas Islands and other parts of French Polynesia, and some of the islands visited have no runway, so this ships is really the only practical way on and off the island. The ship carries freight to the islands, and helps them to export their produce to other islands as we well as further afield.
In addition to the above, by bringing tourists to some of these remote islands the ship is providing an important source of income to the ports she visits and also to some of the enterprises in those ports, including restaurants, craft shops and local tourism businesses.
There is an on board lecturer who, apart from being a great way to fill in time during crossings from one island to another, provides a vast amount of information about the culture and customs of the islands.
Usually the entire crew is Polynesian, either from the Society Islands (Tahiti) or from the Marquesas, which provides employment and income for the islands, but also a great channel of understanding for the passengers, and absolutely vital know-how for the crew, whose intimate knowledge of the area allows the ship to dock in some surprisingly small harbours.