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Cruise the Marquesas Islands

from £4301 excluding flights

  • 11 nights
  • Year round
Home Destinations Australasia French Polynesia Cruise the Marquesas Islands


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Marvel at Nuku Hiva's bay, dominated by towering cliffs and majestic waterfalls

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Watch the spectacle of a traditional Marquesan Pig Dance

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Listen to stories surrounding the ancient tiki sculptures

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Visit Rangiroa with its stunning coral reef and tropical fish

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See where Paul Gaugin lived and visit his tomb

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Visit one of the world's most beautiful lagoons at Bora Bora

Why this trip...

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Style of vessel

This holiday is based on a ship ideally suited to the areas visited and the conditions

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Immersive exploration

Immerse yourself in your surroundings on a true exploration of remote and spectacular areas

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Experience local culture and heritage as part of this holiday


On this remarkable South Pacific adventure, discover the intoxicating beauty of the remote, luxuriant and untouched Marquesas Islands. Cruise aboard the custom-built vessel, the Aranui V, which operates as a “freighter to paradise” delivering essential supplies to these remote islands.

Set sail aboard through the little-visited outer islands of the Marquesas. One of the most beautiful archipelagos in the South Pacific, the islands jut from the cobalt-blue ocean, waterfalls plunging through rainforest to scalloped bays.

The Aranui V features spacious Polynesian themed suites and all cabins have windows. On the sweeping decks you can read, relax or take in the views of pristine lagoons and soaring mountains. Take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool. Enjoy fine French and Polynesian cuisine in the dining room with your fellow adventurers. Socialise in the lounge or learn about the rich Marquesan culture and history from on board experts.



Board the Aranui V today and settle into your cabin before setting sail from Papeete. Cruise east from the Society Islands towards Fakarava atoll, a tiny speck in the South Pacific Ocean.

Depending on the time of year you are visiting, you will explore the highlights of either Fakarava or Kauehi. Fakarava is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the second largest atoll in French Polynesia. Surrounded by spectacular cliffs, rising 260 feet above sea level, the island is a sharp contrast from the typical low-lying coral-reef formation with a lagoon in the middle. Once a thriving island due to phosphate mining in the first half of the 20th century, it was mostly abandoned with only a few families remaining to keep watch. Today, it has fewer than 100 inhabitants, who live from the culture of copra, fishing and the trade of coconut crabs. Kauehi has only recently opened up to tourism, with pearl farming also recently being developed. Now with over 500 inhabitants, this authentic islands turquoise lagoon and white sand beach provides a nesting place for turtles.

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Relax on the sun decks and in the small pool as you soak up the immense beauty of the South Pacific. On warm tropical evenings perhaps read in the lounge/library or chat with one of the experts on Marquesan culture or archaeology.

This island is the administrative centre of the Marquesas. The village of Taiohae stretches along the beach, which is like a magnificent amphitheatre created by the successive eruptions of three concentric volcanoes and dominated by towering cliffs streaked with waterfalls. In the small village, all of the government services and residences, the hospital, bank and schools, are close by.  A lovely handicraft centre is located on the beach road. Your adventure in Nuku Hiva will include a tour of the Cathedral Notre Dame, famed for its stonework and wood sculptures. In Hatiheu, you will visit the archaeological site known as Tohua Kamuihei, where public festivities once took place. Here you will see the paepae, immense stone platforms on which houses were built, and huge boulders carved with enigmatic petroglyphs. Under a giant banyan tree, enjoy a performance of traditional songs and dances, including the ‘Pig Dance’, which originated in Nuku Hiva. For lunch, try a traditional ‘Umu’, a Marquesan specialty where food is cooked in an underground oven.

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Legend refers to Ua Pou as the ‘pillars of the archipelago’ and it is often called ‘The Cathedral Island’. These names become clear as the ship docks at Hakahau Bay, which is surrounded by 12 basalt summits soaring as high as 1100 metres. Every island has its own special ambience and Ua Pou’s is one of mystery and magic. You are sure to see familiar looking faces as many of our crew members are from here. Energetic early risers can hike up the hill to the Cross for breathtaking views of the valleys and village below. The artisans’ centre is a short stroll into town and the offerings include works featuring the unique flower stone and a variety of carvings and children’s clothes. Before enjoying a Marquesan lunch, take in an excellent dance show, including the Bird Dance, a traditional Ua Pou performance.

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This island, the least inhabited in the Marquesas, is largely arid and home to many wild horses, goats and pigs. It is also a refuge for two endemic birds: the pati’oti’o and the pihiti, which are only found here. In the early morning, the Aranui will execute a point-to-point 180-degree turn in the narrow mouth of Vaipaee’s Invisible Bay. With only metres to spare on either side, it is a skillful operation undertaken by the captain and the crew and is not to be missed. From the dock, travel by 4WD to the village of Hane.  Along the way, you will stop to explore the Botanical Garden, the cultural centre Te Tumu, featuring a small museum with exquisite replicas of Marquesan artifacts, and a petroglyph museum and local woodcarvers’ studios in the fishing village of Hokatu. Look for the unusual carved black and white coconuts. In Hane, where a Marquesan lunch will be served, visit the Marine Museum beforehand and in the afternoon, hike to view red tuff tikis overlooking the bay.

You will visit the impressive church of Tahuata which was built by the Vatican and decorated with beautiful carvings and a stained glass window featuring the Marquesan cross. Though the smallest of the inhabited Marquesan islands, it is historically one of the richest. Tahuata has experienced it all — it was the first island in the archipelago to be discovered by Spanish explorers, who opened fire on a crowd of curious islanders in 1595, saw the arrival of missionaries in 1797 and then became the first French settlement in the Marquesas in 1842. The locals carve exquisite tikis, sea creatures, bracelets, necklaces and more from horse and cow bone, fossilised bone, tusks and pink helmet shell.

Atuona, the main village of Hiva Oa and the second largest in the Marquesas, was once the capital of this archipelago. Sweeping views of the harbour can be seen after a walk up the hill to the cemetery where Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel are buried. Explore the Gauguin Museum, a replica of his ‘House of Pleasure’, and the Brel Museum, which showcases his plane JoJo.

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Fatu Hiva is the most lush and remote island in the archipelago, and is also a centre of Marquesan crafts. In the village of Omoa, women will demonstrate the making of tapa by hammering mulberry, banyan or breadfruit bark on a log. It is then dried and painted with traditional designs. Another demonstration will show the making of the kumuhei, a bouquet used by the local women to perfume their hair. The adjacent craft centre offers tapa, carvings, hand-dyed pareo and some of the finest monoi coconut oil found in these islands. Following the visit of the village, active passengers may choose to hike from Omoa to Hanavave, a 16 km hike offering spectacular views of towering cliffs. A picnic lunch will be served at the summit. Non-hikers will sail on the Aranui to Hanavave’s Bay of Virgins, considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Go ashore for a visit of the village and to welcome the hikers.

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Enjoy a day at sea to relax by the pool and participate in one of the lectures or activities offered by our guides.

Rangiroa or ‘huge sky’ is the largest atoll in French Polynesia and the second largest in the world. The seemingly endless blue lagoon attracts divers to snorkel, scuba or shoot the pass surrounded by fish of every size, colour and shape. Rangiroa is famous for its majestic manta rays. It is also home to stunning pearls in all shades and local artisans known for their fine shell jewellery. While in Rangiroa, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent lagoon on a glass bottom boat tour or swimming, snorkelling or diving. You can also visit one of the finest pearl farms in the Tuamotus to learn about these rare gems and see how they are grown.

Makatea is an elevated atoll, like a fortress standing on the ocean with its 70m high cliffs. This raised atoll is home to only 94 inhabitants. At the end of the 19th century, large quantities of phosphates were discovered here; Makatea was to have a unique industrial destiny in Polynesia. The island, until then forgotten by the modern world, was equipped with schools, a cinema, religious centres, various industrial installations, including a 100-metre metal jetty and even a railway, which are today the silent witnesses of its singular history.

As you arrive in Bora Bora’s world-famous lagoon of opalescent blues and greens, you’ll be greeted by the majestic Mount Otemanu, the island’s highest peak. In this perfect island paradise you’ll have plenty of time to discover how and why the Pearl of the Pacific earned such a well-deserved reputation. You can snorkel or dive and marvel at the turquoise lagoons, among the most beautiful in the world.

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Your expedition comes to an end as you arrive back in Papeete. It’s time to say Nānā! (goodbye) to your fellow passengers and crew as you disembark the Aranui.

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The itinerary above is based on departures in 2024 – the 2025 route may vary slightly, please contact us for details.

Please note cruise itineraries are subject to change without prior notice due to local sea and weather conditions – a degree of flexibility is essential!

Prices and Departures

Price from £4301 excluding flights

Airfares are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in cabins with private bathroom
  • All meals, wine with on board meals (1 bottle per 4 passengers)
  • Excursions as per itinerary
  • Cruise transportation
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

2024 Departures

From prices per person, based on 2 sharing a standard cabin with private bathroom

Departure Duration Vessel Twin Cabin Price (pp)
20 Jan 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,301
03 Feb 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,301
02, 16 Mar 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,301
13 Apr 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
04, 18 May 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
01, 15 Jun 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
17, 31 Aug 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
14 Sep 2021 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
05, 19 Oct 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
16, 30 Nov 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
16 Dec 2024 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779

2025 Departures

From prices per person, based on 2 sharing a standard cabin with private bathroom

Departure Duration Vessel Twin Cabin Price (pp)
22 Feb 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,301
08, 22 Mar 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
19 Apr 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
03, 17 May 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
31 May 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,301
14, 28 Jun 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
12, 26 Jul 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
09, 23 Aug 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
20 Sept 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
04, 18 Oct 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779
15, 29 Nov 2025 11 nights Aranui 5 £4,779

Please contact us for details of cabin upgrades and single occupancy options.

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