Cruise the Marquesas on the New Aranui 5

By far the most memorable cruise I’ve ever taken was a 2-week trip with Lisa aboard the freighter cruise ship, the Aranui. We traveled 750 miles north of the island of Tahiti to the Marquesas Islands, the archipelago most distant from any continent. The only way to visit all six of the inhabited Marquesas was aboard this upscale freighter that offers air-conditioned cabins and three French meals daily. The ship’s main function, however, is to transport goods to the local residents. She comes bearing bricks and cement, pipes and tractors, fishing nets, medicines, and food, all the necessities for an isolated existence; and returns to Tahiti with copra, dried coconut meat that is processed into oil, soap, and cosmetics.  

While burly crew members haul sacks of rice and other goods off the boat, guests get the opportunity to take guided hikes, go horseback riding, and visit the locals. Nuka Hiva is the island where a 22-year old sailor named Herman Melville jumped ship and wrote about his experience with cannibals in his first book, Typee. Paul Gauguin’s gravesite rests on the neighboring island of Hiva Oa. Sitting under a plumeria tree on a hillside over the bay, the stone is simply inscribed, “Paul Gauguin, 1903.” A three-hour cruise from Hiva Oa brought us to the verdant island of Fatu Hiva.  Here, we took a ten-mile hike into the stunning Bay of Virgins, the most majestic site of the voyage. Towering rock cliffs rises from the ocean’s depth, forming a v-shaped buttress that’s illuminated by the sun’s yellow-green rays. In the distance, serrated ridges, cloud-piercing peaks and impassable gorges stand as a monument to the centuries of volcanic fires that formed this fantastic landscape. That sight is hard to forget. 
On December 12th, the Aranui will be introducing a brand new ship, the Aranui 5. The 254-passenger ship features 103 spacious cabins, many with balconies. Public spaces include the Sky Bar with sweeping panoramic views, two lounges, library, video and computer room, outdoor swimming pool with a whirlpool, fitness room and massage room. Far more luxurious than the ship Lisa and I went on in 1994! The itinerary also includes a stop at Bora Bora on the return trip. Price starts at  $2,781 per person.