For the past 30 years or so, Tahitian cargo line Aranui Cruises has been delivering freight and passengers to French Polynesia's remote Marquesas islands on a series of cargo ships called Aranui. Aranui 5 started operating in late 2015. This niche but increasingly popular line has just announced three extra itineraries for 2021; while most will be the original 13-day round-trip cruise from Papeete to the Marquesas, the ship will also visit the Cook Islands, the Society Islands and expand its Pitcairn program.
Freighter cruising is by its nature usually more about the cargo than the passengers, but Aranui 5 was built as a dual-purpose supply and passenger vessel and the company is reportedly planning to add another similar but more cruise-oriented ship in 2022.
Aranui 5 can accommodate about 254 passengers in 103 cabins; meals, wine with lunch and dinner, and some shore excursions are included in the fare. Some of the Polynesian crew have been with the company for as long as it has been operating and they are renowned for their hospitality and traditional Polynesian entertainment onboard. See aranui.com [https://aranui.com]
If you're inspired to travel further afield on cargo ships that take far fewer passengers, your first port of call is Australian company Freighter Expeditions. Its knowledgeable staff can organise voyages varying in length from six days to six months, almost anywhere in the world on ships that might only have two to four cabins for passengers. Booking well in advance is essential. See freighterexpeditions.com.au [https://www.freighterexpeditions.com.au]
EARLY CHRISTMAS PRESENT
Treat yourself to an early festive getaway with ecruising.travel's 20-night Orchid Isles and Coral Coast fly/stay/cruise package. It kicks off with three nights at stylish resort Como Uma Canggu in Bali, followed by a 17-night cruise to Sydney from Benoa aboard the ultra-luxe Seabourn Encore. The line's newest, 600-passenger ship will call at Komodo Island, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach and Moreton Island, allowing plenty of relaxing sea days to make the most of the ship's fabulous facilities. The cruise finishes in Sydney on December 21. From $7599. See ecruising.travel [https://www.ecruising.travel]
Celebrity Solstice, one of Australian cruisers' favourite ships, returns to our shores in October for the eighth year running to embark on a six-month season sailing around Australia, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Celebrity is offering up to $500 off three New Zealand cruises, if you book by September 4. All are 12 nights, two are between Auckland and Sydney (departing November 8 and 20) and one is a round-trip from Auckland, departing on December 2. From $1829. See celebritycruises.com/au [https://www.celebritycruises.com/au]
SOUND OF MUSIC
APT's special 15-day Magnificent Europe cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest departing May 13, 2020 offers fans of master violinist Andre Rieu the chance to see him perform live at a concert in Cologne. Rieu will be accompanied by the Johann Strauss Orchestra, choir and soloists at the city's Lanxess Arena. Other drawcards of the cruise include APT's Signature Experiences – a cocktail reception and private concert at Vienna's City Palace, a trip aboard the Grand Empress steam train and a private event at Gödöllő Palace in Hungary. See aptouring.com.au [https://www.aptouring.com.au]
Veteran actress Sophia Loren is godmother to 14 ships belonging to the world's fourth-largest cruise company, owned by an Italian family – what's the name of the line? Last week's answer: four
JUST ADD WATER
Do your bit for the environment and invest in a re-usable water bottle – there's really no excuse for buying plastic ones. Earth Bottles, designed and produced in Australia, are made of stainless steel and are double insulated, keeping water cold for up to 24 hours and liquids warm for up to 12 hours. They're stylish, washable and even better, Earth Bottles donates a percentage of all purchases to organisations such as Beyond Blue and the Clean Coast Collective. RRP $49.95. See earthbottles.com.au [https://earthbottles.com.au]
HEATHER LEE, THIRROUL, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 40
LAST CRUISE We sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver over 35 days on Viking Orion, and visited Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Russia and Alaska. It was a fantastic cruise with a great variety of ports – a shore tour in each port is included in your fare. There were several stops in Japan, which was wonderful.
NEXT CRUISE A 14-day cruise from Auckland to Sydney on Azamara Journey. We have done this itinerary before on our own, but it was so good that we are doing it again with our family.
DREAM SHIP This is a tough one as both Viking's and Ponant's ships are excellent, closely followed by Azamara's. I like cruises where everything is included – soft and alcoholic drinks, tips, all meals – and you have no extra costs or unexpected bills at the end of the cruise.
DREAM CRUISE We sailed to the sub-Antarctic with Ponant in February this year. This was the best cruise we have done, an expedition cruise to a place where not many people get to go. It was just fabulous and the wildlife was out of this world.
DREAM PORT Venice, Italy. It's one of the most romantic places on Earth. I like to go on smaller ships as this port can be so crowded. I also love Korcula in Croatia; it's very beautiful and unspoilt.
BEST CRUISE TIP Don't over-pack. You have to push your bags through airports and then you end up not wearing everything you've packed. Lay out your clothes on the bed first and then cull half.
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Travelgear.com.au has a huge range of travel accessories, from international SIM cards to luggage and gift suggestions and ships free to Australia and New Zealand. See travelgear.com.au [https://www.travelgear.com.au]