Return from the Aranui 3

Freighter and Other Non-Traditional Cruise Travel

Share your interest & experiences in Freighter Cruises and other unusual forms of leisure passenger ship travel
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10 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
My wife and I are finally adjusting to reality after our cruise on the Aranui 3 from 22 November to 5 December. The experience exceeded all of our expectations! I learned of the Aranui back when the Aranui 2 sailed, but never had the time for a two + week cruise. Last year we met two couples recently back from a cruise and we started making our own plans. We booked directly with the San Mateo office over a year out so that we could have one of the balcony suites.
We arrived the day before boarding and spent some time exploring Papeete on foot with the expectation that we would spend more time upon our return from the cruise. Boarding at 7:30 AM was an easy five minute process, giving us plenty of time to explore the ship before the welcome drink and dancing before a 10:30 AM departure. The next 13 days were a whirlwind of meeting new friends, new islands, shore activities, dining, evening partying and little time to sleep. There were 150 passengers on board with French speaking nationalities comprising about 70%. Other nationalities included English, Australian, New Zealand, German, Swiss, Austrian, Norwegian, Russian, Canadian and US. In a first for the Aranui, 16 Japanese ladies were aboard with a guide. Needless to say, PA announcements took a little time as they were repeated in French, English, German and Japanese.
After a short period of adjustment, everyone tended to mingle freely and groups formed and reformed according to interests and not nationality. Our guest lecturer, with a strong interest in anthropology, confided that he was enjoying the observation of the way table groups developed and redeveloped in the dining room. Most of the lunches were ashore at either local restaurants, or a beach barbeque. Evening meals were in two sittings, with a half hour delay to allow the wait staff enough time to serve the first course before the second sitting arrived. Dinners were good, but picky eaters might not like some of the entrees. Some diners elected to have two appetizers or salads to compensate. Although one bottle of wine was provide for each four people seated, more was available and wine tended to flow freely most evenings.
The cruise ended too quickly, but we were fortunate to have sailed with the Aranui 3 before she is replaced with the Aranui 5 next year. We were the last cruise to spend eight days in the Marquesas. Future cruises cut a day from the Marquesas and add a day on Bora Bora to the itinerary.
Two days in Papeete eased the return to late fall conditions in the Pacific Northwest. The night before our return, we were treated to the Papeete Christmas parade. It was a mixture of typical North American Christmas themes mixed with a strong dose of Rio Carnival and seasoned with a Polynesian flair. I can’t imagine ever topping the overall experience!
Minnesota USA
1,009 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
Danabq, Thanks for the latest info. We circuited the S. Pacific on a traditional Cruiseship, but an Aranui experience is something I would enjoy immensely. Locomotiveman Tom
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Alaska, Hawaii/Polynesia. Trans-Atlantic/MED 10. SYDNEY/NZ 04. So Amer./PANAMA 02. NewYork/LA 00. LA/Panama 99. PERTH/Singapore 1973
Eastern Shore of VA
114 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I am traveling on the Aranui 3 in October 2015. I have been reading about a prepaid data plan which could be used via wifi at the island post offices. Is anyone familiar with this?

Pam in VA
7 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
We traveled on the Aranui in Oct. 2014. I bought the cheapest wifi card at the post office on the first island in the Marquesas upon arrival. I used the same card code at each other post office, and the card seemed to have enough data for the whole trip. I found the wifi connectivity to be extremely low however, particularly when you have 10 passengers or so all trying to get on at the same time. It seemed to take a long time to download a few emails. I responded or wrote emails back on the ship, then upload them at the next Post Office. I found uploading photos to be impossible.

I think that if I did this again, and really needed to stay in touch, I would buy a French Polynesian SIM card back in Papeete before getting on the Aranui. I notice that the crew seemed to be able to use their phones in most of the ports. I think that Vini is supposed to be best plan.
Eastern Shore of VA
114 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I have AT&T but read conflicting reports on whether I can buy international service from them in French Polynesia. Will call their international department this week and check. I also read about buying a SIM card from Vini but with that I would need an unlocked phone, right?
7 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Yes Barefoot14, your phone needs to be unlocked. I called Verizon a couple of years ago, and asked them to unlock my phone. They asked why, so I told them I wanted to use a foreign SIM card. They tried to sell me on their global service, but I told them it was just too expensive and that I had decided to do this. They said ok, and immediately unlocked it.