Posted January 4th, 2016, 12:21 AM
We just returned, 27 Dec. 2015), from the inaugural cruise on the Aranui 5 from Tahiti to French Polynesia ( The Marquesas’). We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves particularly with the beauty of the people, their music and dancing, and the Island scenery. For those who are used to the traditional big box cruise lines then they should not have the same expectations, i.e. Night clubs, shopping malls, theme parks, etc. The Marquesas’ basic contact with outside world are Aranui vessels which transport goods and people between and back and forth among the Islands and one should take note of this and make appropriate allowances.
Our cabin was very comfortable AND air conditioned, as was throughout the interior of the ship, as the climate is very hot and humid. The meals were excellent, 5 stars to the chef and kitchen staff, and if you love seafood then this is the cruise for you (however the kitchen will accommodate you if you wish an alternative, meat, fowl, vegetarian).
Some of my issues were:
• Signage could be improved on, such as arrows for direction, and clear location of muster stations, and layout of the ship on the back of cabin doors,
• better description of each deck, and clear indication of the muster locations
• The video for evacuation, in case of emergency, was a bit confusing, and the life jackets demonstrated appeared to be different than what was on ship
• Cabin numbers (ours was 7205, 7206 across the hall, and the rest of the deck was in the 7300’s, which was confusing at first.
• Life jackets were a bit difficult and confusing to put on
• The phones in our cabin were not hooked up
• Main languages spoken we French and Polynesian (understandable as this is their base) but I feel an increase in English would be an improvement (particularly on the BIG screen tv in our cabin), and many presentations were only in French.
• The sliding glass door to our balcony were heavy and had to be slammed shut to close & lock
• More clocks throughout the ship would be helpful
• The bar staff, of which there were very few, had a great deal of difficulty keeping up with the volume demand for the fancy drinks (Pina Coladas, Blue Lagoons, etc.), particularly in the time frame between next day briefings and meal times. There should also be an “ORDER HERE” sign posted to eliminate confusion, and shoving, with priority of service.
• I was concerned for the safety of the bar staff with the loose bottles, and glassware in the bars as this has all the makings of a potential accident in rough seas. The bars were more like a land bar rather designed for a ship.
A couple of my main issues were:
• Water pooling on the decks and balconies due to poor drainage and insufficiently placed scuppers.
• Diesel fumes occasionally spilling onto the lounge decks, and sometimes into the cabin when docked and sitting on the balcony.
One should bear in mind that this was their inaugural cruise and there were bound to be some bugs many of which had been pointed out to the owners, who were along for the voyage and mixed with the passengers. The staff, who were mostly Polynesians, couldn’t do enough to ensure passengers were welcomed, safe, comfortable, and always had smiles on their faces. In the evenings they entertained us with their music (The Aranui Band) and dancing. Quite often the staff would perform impromptu, on ship and shore, much to the delight and enjoyment of all.
Whenever we pulled into port the ships staff made sure each and every one of us got on and off the ship safely and securely regardless of physical capability, thereby ensuring each passenger would get the full Polynesian experience. The shore excursions were very enjoyable with interesting and informative guides. At each Island, visitors were welcomed by the locals with traditional performances and unique displays, history, and crafts. Visitors had opportunities to snorkel, tour or hike, and shop. The ship also arranged on shore picnics and barbecues featuring the local cuisine and even rented a small island at Bora Bora for our exclusive use.
As we have done a fair amount of cruising I would rate Aranai more a delightful cruising adventure and would recommend this to anyone and far surpasses those big box monoliths. I am sure the Aranai has a great future.