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Journeys : Aug Sep 2010
Here the skipper, under the close gaze of enthralled travellers, threads the boat between towering cliffs then does a kind of handbrake turn, swinging 180 degrees to face where we had just been with only a few metres to spare on each side. That little bit of extreme seam anship ear ns him a big hand every time, together with praise for the nimble matelots who leap from a dinghy on to a sheer rock face to make fast the hawser. And all this before breakfast, which in true Gallic fashion is a feast of eggs any way you like them, croissants, pastries, fr uit and excellent coffee. Lunch on board is a three-course affair with lashings of wine (French, of course), and dinner is, if anything, even bigger. On this valiant vessel there's not much time to get bored. There's a library, bar, lectures,photographicdisplays, Polynesian dance classes, gym, pool, video room, boutique and a cosmopolitan group of fellow travellers. If you're feeling queasy, there's also a doctor. Getting ashore can be an interesting procedure. You totter dow n wobbly stairs lashed to the side of the ship then scramble on to a waiting whaleboat. Here you're manhandled with great vigour and precision by crew members and the same process is followed when you reach shore. Wildly enthusiastic tour guides urge you to take a 17 kilometre hike on a mountain track in extreme heat and almost total humidity. Fortunately there is a civilised alter native -- you stroll ashore, find a shady place in an interesting little tow n, sip a Hinano beer, watch a game of petanque and sit very, very still. That generally wins about half the passengers and gets me every time. Accomplished scuba divers get opportunities to explore the fish-rich depths; snorkelling is available at several location s and is best in the sheltered atoll reefs. If you're on an island around lunchtime chances are you'll be taken to see some ancient stone carvings -- tikis -- in the jungle, watch some dancing girls and warlike tribesmen, then drop into a restaurant to see a pig and various other foodstuffs being hauled from an earth oven, Maori style. This can be an imprecise cooking method, but in the Marquesas it seem s to work. The cruise visits two coral atolls in the Tuamotu group -- Fakarava and Rangiroa -- where the highest point is only three metres above sea level and they're seriously wor ried about global warming. However the six Marquesan islands visited are much more rugged, with spiky mountains soaring over 1000 metres and den se undergrowth threaded with brilliant tropical flowers. King Kong would like it here -- most of the islands are gothically spectacular and the spires of Ua Pou are almost dreamlike; contorted towers shrouded in cloud. Threading through this pattern of islands the Aranui picks up copra, bananas, limes and bottles of noni juice -- evidently wildly popular as a remedy again st growing old, growing fat, growing thin, broken legs, baldness, infertility, fertility, dropsy, ague, plague and other ills of the flesh. Without the Aranui the cure-all compound would never leave these shores -- and the world of adventure travel would be a much poorer place. Paul Edwards travelled to Tahiti as a guest of Tahiti Tourisme and Air Tahiti Nui. www.airtahitinui.com.au www.aranuicruises.com.au www.tahitinow.com.au Special RACT Travelworld ARANUI offer 2010 Departures - Save 20% on Cabin Prices 17 Nights from $6599* per person twin share ex Melbourne Voyage 15 Depart 28 October 2010 Voyage 17 Depart 12 December 2010 2011 Departures - Save 10% on cabin prices 17 Nights from $6999* per person twin share ex Melbourne Voyage 04 Depart 10 March 2011 Voyage 06 Depart 21 April 2011 Voyage 08 Depart 02 June 2011 Voyage 13 Depart 15 Sept 2011 Package includes: Return economy class air fares travelling Air Tahiti Nui ex Melbourne, 13 night cruise in a Standard A cabin twin share (except Voyage 17/10 which is 12 nights), all onboard meals and land excursions, pre and post accommodation in Tahiti's newest resort the Manava Suite Resort, ship and hotel transfers in Papeete, all pre-payable taxes and a $100 per person onboard bar credit. *Conditions apply. Subject to variations in flight schedules and availability at the time of booking. Does not include the XFP150 per person per night Tahiti room tax. Voyage 13 is only discounted for Seniors. Marquesas Islands 49 August / September 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010
Oct Nov 2010