I have visited over 275 countries and, having made a November visit to the Marquesas Islands on board the Aranui, I can say that this 16-day cruise was one of my best trips.

The well-maintained Arunui III French Polynesian vessel.

The well-maintained Arunui III French Polynesian vessel.

Aranui III crew member.

Aranui III crew member.

Besides being an excellent vessel and well maintained, the Aranui serves outstanding food with wine at each meal.

The highlight of the trip on this passenger-carrying freighter is the crew. They are right out of central casting. With shaved heads adorned with earrings and bodies with tattoos, these barefooted swashbucklers lift 50-gallon oil drums in and out of whaleboats. It is an OSHA nightmare – no gloves and no hard hats. They even hand-load jeeps and horses from whaleboats onto the ship.

The Remote Pacific:

Imagine the entire Hawaiian Island chain populated with only 7,500 natives and you have the Marquesas. (Before the Europeans’ arrival, these islands had a tenfold population of over 75,000 inhabitants).

The trip to these craggy isles begins about every three weeks from Papeete, Tahiti, stopping twice in the Tuamotus each way.

The Marquesas are some of the most remote islands in the world. They remind me of the TV series “Port of Paradise” starring Gardner McKay. Ports of call include Hiva Oa, Ua Huka, Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou — picture-postcard islands.

There are three hostesses who direct a plethora of activities on each island. Flowers are presented to you on every arrival.

On the negative side, well, like a European ski-lift line, the French passengers can be a bit pushy.

The cruise is similar to those Russian icebreaker trips to the Arctic and Antarctic, except add whaleboats instead of Zodiacs plus 50+ degrees.

Crew entertaining guests aboard the Arunui III.

Crew members entertaining guests aboard the Arunui III.

Yo-Yo, the bartender, is great fun. Kadafi and Papa Noel of the crew could be linebackers for the Raiders.

The most difficult part of the trip can be finding air space to Tahiti.

Their brochure is good but doesn’t depict the daily excursions, hiking, picnicking or horse and helicopter riding. It is a great trip. I would rarely repeat the same trip, but with this voyage I would make an exception.

About The Author

Bill Altaffer, who has been called the "World's Most Traveled Man," is THE authority on extreme travel. Traveling since the 1940's, there is hardly an inch on this globe that Bill Altaffer hasn’t stepped foot, weighed anchor, or somehow otherwise reached. He is also the owner of Expedition Photo Travel Tours, a boutique company specializing in off-the-beaten-path travel.

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