Cargo-passenger cruise line Aranui Cruises launches new ship to remote islands of French Polynesia

Tahitian cargo cruise line Aranui Cruises will build a new 140-metre, 280-passenger cruise ship, set to launch in mid 2022.

The cruise line is well-known for Aranui 5, a mixed freight and passenger ship that sails to the remote Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. Its new vessel, the AraMana, represents the company's first foray into passenger-only cruises.

Aranui Cruises CEO Philippe Wong, along with family members Eric Wong and Laurent Wong, revealed details of the new ship during a tour of Aruani 5, which is currently in dry dock at Sydney's Garden Island for the first time.

San Francisco-based executive vice president Eric Wong said the idea of AraMana was four years in the making. The family run cruise-line began as a cargo freight business set up the their grandfather in the 1950s, carrying cargo to the Marquesas Islands and other remote islands in the Pacific. In the 1980s, under the direction of Philippe Wong, the company added a cruise element to its business, allowing passengers to join the freight crew as they off-loaded cargo on the remote islands of French Polynesia.

Philippe Wong said the new ship design borrows from the family's deep-rooted knowledge of cargo. He noted the difficulty larger cruise ships encounter sailing around the islands and transferring its passengers to shore. One of the key design elements of AraMana, he said, is multiple doors for easier passenger entry and exits when visiting the small, remote islands planned for its itineraries.

The itineraries will see AraMara cruise to the Pitcairn Islands (which are populated by descendants of the mutineers from HMS Bounty), Tuamotu Gambier, the Society Islands and French Polynesia's southernmost island group, the Australs, with regular calls to Raivavae, Rurutu and Rapa.

Aranui Cruises has engaged the same Chinese designers and builders as Aruani 5, which was constructed in 2015. Renderings reveal that AraMana, meaning 'path of the Polynesian spirit', will retain the signature Aruani design, Polynesian ambience and Polynesian crew but offer a more spacious, stylish and grander experience than a freight-passenger vessel. AraMana will feature an atrium, plush booths in the restaurant, a piano bar, an amphitheatre, a dance floor, two restaurants, swimming pool and a spa. There will be 11 cabin categories, including a grand suite.

The new ship will have a traditional Polynesian tattoo design on the bow and a vahine (woman) on the funnel and there will be a tattoo room on board where passengers can get their own tattoo. 

Aranui Cruises will continue to run the Aranui 5's 13-day itinerary to the Marquesas Islands in conjunction with AraMana's itineraries.


Laurent Wong, Aranui's regional representative, said AraMana, like Aranui 5, will use French Polynesia's capital Pape'ete as its home port, and Sydney's Garden Island will become the dry dock base for both ships.

Aranui 5 arrived in Sydney's Garden Island dockyard in late December and is scheduled to leave dry lock on Friday after a new coat of paint and routine maintenance. The ship will leave with only crew onboard and will pick up its first passengers for the year in Pape'ete on February 6, 2020.

See also: Visiting the most isolated islands on Earth

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