Monday, October 14, 2013

Details on the Aranui 3

The Aranui 3 is part freighter part cruise ship. Her maiden voyage was January 2003 and she shows signs of having sailed the seas for 10 years. She has rust spots and could use a new coat of paint. But time in dry dock will probably not happen as the Aranui 5 is due to sail in 2015.

The Aranui is owned by a Chinese family. (That is why there is not going to be an Aranui 4 because 4 is an unlucky number to the Chinese.) While the carrying of freight between Pape’ete and the Marquesa Islands is subsidized by the French government, the really profitable part of the business is carrying passengers. Each new Aranui has been capable of holding more passengers. There was no confirmation yet about the number of passengers for the Aranui 5 but the Aranui 3 holds a total of 198 passengers, with 178 in cabins and 20 in a dormitory. On our sailing there were 165 passengers, 25 of whom were Americans.

There was a bridge tour available during our full day at sea. We learned about the name of the ship: ara means way/road and nui means big/high. Construction was started in 2011 and completed 18 months later. She was built in Romania and is the largest ship to be built on the Danube River in 200 years. (Later in the cruise we had a slide presentation showing her construction and trip to Pape'ete.) Her maximum speed is 15 knots but usually cruises at 11 to 14 knots depending on winds and sea conditions. Most of the time the ship sails on auto pilot because this part of the ocean is very quiet and, while they may see a pleasure yacht or two, have only seen about 2 other ships in the 12 years the Aranui has been sailing.

Overall the ship gross tonnage is about 7,500 ... a far cry from our next cruise which will be on a Holland America ship of about 60,000 gr tns and 1,300 passengers. The Aranui 3 also has freight capacity of 2,500 tons and two cranes, one a 35-ton crane and the other a 25-ton crane.

As expected, the ship is far from fancy. Simple painted walls and metal handrails grace the inside of the ship. Instead of fancy works of art, the walls hold detailed information about the ship’s layout ... perfect for the onboard engineer. For the passenger, though, there was an easy to read ship layout chart on the Main deck.

Our cabin was on the Main deck and we loved the location. It was close to reception and to the gangways. The layout of the cabin was as expected except it had a lot more storage than I anticipated. It had a safe in the closet which we didn’t use because we weren’t happy about the way it was (or wasn’t) working. Other pax also did not use their safe and, to the best of our knowledge, no one had a problem with anything being stolen.

Left half of dining room .. duplicate on the other side of the room.
One level up was the restaurant.

Two levels up was the pool and one of the open sun decks.

Small pool but very nice and it was used often.


On the same deck as the pool was the lounge where our meetings and lectures were held. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate were available here around the clock. There was also a bar here with limited hours. Off to the side was a small room with a very nice library of books left by passengers. (Books on topic - the islands, the people, etc. - were at reception and needed to be checked out.) Also in the library were two computers for passengers to use when Internet service was available. Cost was 5 Euros per hour and pax could sign up and use their own wireless device.

Passenger self-service laundry room.

There were two passengers decks below ours - Decks A and B - with cabins similar to ours plus the dormitory.

B deck had the passenger self-service (not free) laundry room and the gym. Free guest laundry was available three times during the cruise. Pax would put their laundry in a mesh bag (no socks or underwear) and several bags would be washed together in the large machine used for towels and linens, with clothes dried, folded and returned to the cabin. We used the service only once on a really dirty (mud!) pair of Jerry's pants that I was unable to get clean by hand  washing. The pants came back significantly improved.

The gym.

Above the pool deck was another area for sun and sitting plus a bar. Topside was the Navigation Deck with the bridge.

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