Back To Line

Aranui 3: Aranui 3

  • Danee Hazama
  • Lionel Gouverneur
  • Lionel Gouverneur
  • Lionel Gouverneur
  • Lionel Gouverneur

Aranui 3 Cruise Review

The Aranui 3 offers 2-week itineraries from Papeete to the Marquesas year-round. As a combination of passenger and cargo ship, it's the lifeblood of the many small islands where it calls. Wine is included with both lunch and dinner. While the ship is comfortable, it's also very casual and even includes one dorm-like multi-passenger cabin.

The Aranui 3 is a mixed passenger-cargo vessel operating between Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands. While the ship has most of the facilities of a typical mainstream cruise ship (restaurant, pool, gym, lounge, and library), it's the experience of being part of the lifeblood of these distant islands that makes the journey unique. The Aranui 3 calls at ports with names few have ever heard and would be hard-pressed to find on a map: Hakahau, Taiohae, and Atuona, and the tiny settlements on the islands of Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, and Hiva Oa. And there are half-dozen more little known ports on the itinerary. As the cargo is being unloaded at each port—and the Marquesan crew is loading on the copra, pearl shells, and other island produce—passengers are free to wander around the town or take excursions to villages where the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville lived more than a century before. There are visits to ornate churches, artisans' workshops, and the former house and grave of artist Paul Gauguin who spent his last years on the island of Hiva Oa. Entertainment is provided by the ship's Polynesian musicians, and an expert on Marquesan history, anthology, art, or some other specialty subject accompanies each cruise.

A single-ship cruise line, the Aranui 3 company offers 14-day itineraries through the Marquesas Islands from Tahiti, departing every other Saturday and returning two weeks later on Friday. The ship carries both cargo and passengers and provides a lifeline to the less-visited islands in the Marquesas. Additionally, it's the easiest and simplest way to visit a variety of these islands. It's a one-of-a-kind ship with a mostly local, Polynesian crew.

Although the fares are not cheap, they are relatively all-inclusive. Fares include meals (with wine) and excursions in ports, and they are comparable to a land-based vacation of similar length. Alcoholic beverages and the (usually) slow Internet service are not included in the cruise rates. The only real drawback to the cruise is that the cargo needs of the ship occasionally come before the passengers' needs, so you might have a short stay in a port in order to move more quickly to the next island that has more goods for delivery.

What You Should Know


  • The itinerary goes to islands that are exotic and little visited, so bragging rights are well-earned
  • It's a comfortable, laid-back experience (as long as you enjoy that)
  • Wine is included at lunch and dinner


  • Both cabins and bathrooms are pretty basic, so don't expect luxury accommodations
  • There's no organized entertainment other than an occasional performance by the ship's band
  • Cuisine is good but not gourmet
  • Internet service is particularly slow
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 60
  • Entered Service 2003
  • Gross Tons 3,800
  • Length 386 feet
  • Number of Cabins 86
  • Passenger Capacity 200
  • Width 58 feet

Cruise Forums

Have a cruising question? Ask our Fodorite community.

Cruise News

Read our latest news about cruises.


Shop our travel guides on European, Caribbean, and Alaskan cruises.

Back To Top
Subscribe to Newsletter
Sign up for Travel Tips & News
I want emails from Fodor's Travel with travel information and promotions. I can unsubscribe any time using the unsubscribe link at the end of all emails.

Thank you for your interest!

Look out for our newsletters with travel tips and special offers.