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I'm ready for a different type of cruise experience, does it exist?

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I'm looking to retire next year and starting to make plans to become a mostly perpetual traveller - land and sea.

 

My husband passed, so it's just me, seeking the adventures I could never have while in my career and raising a child.

 

I want to take long cruises, but ones that are not prohibitively expensive, I don't need luxury, I just need to explore the parts of world I have never travelled to, particularly places that are not easy to reach by land.

 

I'm not interested in manufactured fun cruises. I like to exercise and dine well, but I don't need to be entertained on ship...I do well enough enjoying chats with others, reading, exercise, etc. I enjoy learning, so educational lectures are also of great interest to me.

 

I would prefer my fellow shipmates to be 40+ to share similar conversations, not necessarily focused on current school & kid topics, for example.

 

Should I look for a repositioning cruise, a world cruise, is there anything that fits what I am looking for? Would appreciate all suggestions. I can afford long cruises, just don't need to pay for the zing lol.

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What you are looking for is out there, but not necessarily easy to find. One that comes to mind is Voyages to Antiquity. They sail a small, old ship and focus on history and culture of the destinations. Google them. There are lines that do not market to the US, focus mainly on the UK and Europe for their guests. Saga cruises, for those over 50; Fred Olsen, Marella (Thomson) although they do a lot of fly/cruise packages from the UK and would be less likely to have a refined atmosphere. Cunard would be a good place to start, although they have larger ships. Cruise & Maritime use older ships and go to interesting places mostly from the UK. A good cruise travel agent would be a good place to start, although some of these lines may not be familiar to them because they don't market in the US. Consider Viking Ocean, too. Much of what you want can also be found on the luxury lines, but you would be paying for the 'zing'. Try going to http://www.cruisetimetables.com and from their Ports of Call list, choose some places yu would like to visit. It will tell you who is calling there and their itineraries. It's a fun place to 'shop'. EM

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Thank you so much. I had not considered looking for companies that market outside the US.

 

Makes so much sense! Thanks again. I'd love to find a blog or book that outlines all the cruise lines and the demographics of who they generally serve......hmmm

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There are books on amazon that lists all the cruise companies the ships, where they sail to and cost. I bought it for my Aunt a couple of years ago.

 

My local library also had a similar book too, so why not try your local library too.

 

You could do a transatlantic to UK. And the cruise Norway or the Baltics and visit St. Petersburg. Which I thought was amazing 😀

 

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the board here for Other Cruise Lines, located under Cruise Lines A-O has folk that cruise on those lines. It sounds like you might also enjoy river cruises, not just in Europe, but in Asia. Try the River Cruises board here, too. The book referred to above is Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Ships, by Douglas Ward. He updates it every year, as has a bias for the high end lines. Berlitz and Frommer have books for River Cruising in Europe also. EM

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I'm looking to retire next year and starting to make plans to become a mostly perpetual traveller - land and sea.

 

My husband passed, so it's just me, seeking the adventures I could never have while in my career and raising a child.

 

I want to take long cruises, but ones that are not prohibitively expensive, I don't need luxury, I just need to explore the parts of world I have never travelled to, particularly places that are not easy to reach by land.

 

I'm not interested in manufactured fun cruises. I like to exercise and dine well, but I don't need to be entertained on ship...I do well enough enjoying chats with others, reading, exercise, etc. I enjoy learning, so educational lectures are also of great interest to me.

 

I would prefer my fellow shipmates to be 40+ to share similar conversations, not necessarily focused on current school & kid topics, for example.

 

Should I look for a repositioning cruise, a world cruise, is there anything that fits what I am looking for? Would appreciate all suggestions. I can afford long cruises, just don't need to pay for the zing lol.

 

As mentioned above, there are lots of cruises that aren't typically marketed in the USA.

And there are lots of "cruise groups" that participate on regular cruise lines, but have their own activities and lectures, etc. (They may or may not have arrangements to eat together, etc.) Some may even charter the entire (usually small) ship.

In that category of specialized groups you might want to check about trips sponsored by the Smithsonian, National Geographic, the New York Times (more limited, but still, they are "there"), and even your alumni groups.

 

There are also specialized "cruise types", such a river barges through European towns, or through the countryside/vineyards, etc., and these can have different focus of activities, too. Some of these groups seem to be using the same ships (or using a sub-set of the cabins and suites, anyway), probably at different times.

 

Something "different" we recently discovered, and are heading off to next week, is Hurtigruten, who have "ferry/cruise" ships up the Norwegian coast to near the Russian border. These are working ferry ships (most still take cars as well as short-distance passengers and cargo), but they realized some time ago that there was a niche market, and they've added cabins and even "suites". But NOTE that the "services" are NOT the same, but this might even appeal to you... no evening musicals (or any shows!), no casino, etc. No room service either, and certainly no butler service. But they've slowly been adding more and more "perks". One ship even has a pool now (Brrrrr in the winter up in Norway), and several have large hot tubs. They also have special interest packages. We are going on an "Astronomy" cruise, while also hoping to see Northern Lights (a major attraction of many passengers), but there are some focusing on Norwegian history, etc. And they now go elsewhere, including a major presence in Antarctica.

 

There are also cruises to the Galapagos Islands or Easter Island, or generally to the South Pacific. Some are luxury cruises, some not so much.

 

There are also alternatives that are much more interactive, and less "relaxation" focused. Look up "Un-cruises". (We have no experience, but if we were younger, we'd definitely have looked into some of these!)

 

In Googling some of these, you'll no doubt come across a variety of other, similar groups/cruises.

 

And of course, the main cruise lines automatically have some "focus", based upon where they are cruising, such as the Greek Islands, circling Japan, etc...

 

Hopefully, you'll soon have a list that's too long :)

 

GC

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I want to take long cruises, but ones that are not prohibitively expensive, I don't need luxury, I just need to explore the parts of world I have never travelled to, particularly places that are not easy to reach by land.

 

I'm not interested in manufactured fun cruises. I like to exercise and dine well, but I don't need to be entertained on ship...I do well enough enjoying chats with others, reading, exercise, etc. I enjoy learning, so educational lectures are also of great interest to me.

 

I would prefer my fellow shipmates to be 40+ to share similar conversations, not necessarily focused on current school & kid topics, for example.

 

Should I look for a repositioning cruise, a world cruise, is there anything that fits what I am looking for? Would appreciate all suggestions. I can afford long cruises, just don't need to pay for the zing lol.

I would suggest you check out Oceania. They do many long itineraries as well as a yearly world cruise (which I'll be on in 2019). Oceania is not all-inclusive so you're not paying for things you might not use. Most cruisers are experienced travelers who are typically over 45-50 yrs old. They don't have glitzy production shows but have musical offerings and educational lectures. There are gyms, a pool and exercise classes. Excellent food is their most notable feature. Even the buffet has freshly grilled steaks, lobster tails, chicken and chops. There are 2-4 "specialty" restaurants that are free. They have 6 ships, 4 are small (684 passengers) and 2 are medium sized (1,250).

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You've gotten a lot of good suggestions here. You might also want to check out Road Scholars, formerly known as Elderhostel. In addition to land trips, they organize cruise trips.

 

You might also want to check into river cruises. They can get to places that ocean cruises cannot, and offer trips through regions that are hard to reach otherwise.

 

Finally, don't dismiss the luxury cruise lines. Most offer exactly the atmosphere you describe, and because of what is included in their fares, are much more cost-effective than people realize. I've taken cruises billed as world cruises or grand voyages on Crystal and Regent, and have found them to offer excellent cuisine, good company, and itineraries that have taken me to places I'd never imagined I would go (and a few I had not previously heard of). The glitz and partying are muted. There are often good lecturers (Crystal is particularly and deservedly known for this), particularly on the longer cruises, and most offer decent gyms and various "sporting" activities if weather permits.

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I really appreciate all these comments and feedback.

 

Pullmantur looks interesting too....almost like a Club Med at sea. I love the casual vibe of the old style Club Med locations.

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I really appreciate all these comments and feedback.

 

Pullmantur looks interesting too....almost like a Club Med at sea. I love the casual vibe of the old style Club Med locations.

 

Last year we did three back-to-backs on the Pullmantur Monarch, starting with an eastbound repositioning from Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, and ending in Lisbon - thence up the west coast of Europe and terminating in Bergen, Norway.

 

An eclectic group of passengers, many (like us) who eschew the leviathans.

 

(If you hurry, the Pullmantur Zenith is departing Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for Lisbon on April 14.)

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We subscribe to a great little magazine called "Cruise Travel" It covers reviews of ports and ships, and includes a list of ports with cruise lines sailing from those ports.

 

While I can't give you a review, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are ready to try Viking Ocean cruises next year for the reasons their ads state "No formal nights, no casinos, no kids"

 

Remember a bad/mediocre day at sea is still better than a good day at the office.

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I’m kind of in the same “boat” as you except I have 2Y 9M 28D until I’m retired. I’m looking at world cruise options and reading every world cruise blog I can find. I’ve probably found more than a dozen blogs by lurking in the world cruise and roll call forums. I’ve learned a great deal about the lines that offer these cruises, their itineraries and their pricing options from reading these blogs. It’s kinda my latest obsession.

I don’t know your circumstances but as solo traveler, there is always that nasty thing called the solo supplement that is usually 100% of the PP fare so I’m going to use a travel agent that is a world “cruise specialist” in Seattle. They are experienced working with solo cruisers in negotiating fares and they offer discounts, perks, and OBC.

 

 

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I’m kind of in the same “boat” as you except I have 2Y 9M 28D until I’m retired. I’m looking at world cruise options and reading every world cruise blog I can find. I’ve probably found more than a dozen blogs by lurking in the world cruise and roll call forums. I’ve learned a great deal about the lines that offer these cruises, their itineraries and their pricing options from reading these blogs. It’s kinda my latest obsession.

I don’t know your circumstances but as solo traveler, there is always that nasty thing called the solo supplement that is usually 100% of the PP fare so I’m going to use a travel agent that is a world “cruise specialist” in Seattle. They are experienced working with solo cruisers in negotiating fares and they offer discounts, perks, and OBC.

 

 

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Take a look at Crystal. Their world cruises usually have a lot of singles, because the single supplement is, I believe, somewhere in the 20-30% range. That helps with the savings, and with the cruise line and fellow passengers being comfortable for solos (I started my cruising as a solo, so learned that atmospherics matter in subtle ways). It's more expensive than many other lines because things like tips and beverages (alcoholic and otherwise) are included.

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Check out this blog “morethangetaways.wordpress.com. Roy has many cruises that would probably match your interests. He is retired and travels solo. He has another blog site for past cruises but I can’t find it right now. He posts on CC as rafinmd

 

 

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Take a look at Crystal. Their world cruises usually have a lot of singles, because the single supplement is, I believe, somewhere in the 20-30% range. That helps with the savings, and with the cruise line and fellow passengers being comfortable for solos (I started my cruising as a solo, so learned that atmospherics matter in subtle ways). It's more expensive than many other lines because things like tips and beverages (alcoholic and otherwise) are included.

 

 

 

Thanks for the suggestion. I will.

 

 

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If you like the South Pacific, you should check out the Aranui 5. It's half freighter and half cruise ship. She holds 235 passengers. IMG_1601.thumb.jpg.4a34263715ed58d41fc73d9ab07fd499.jpgWe are going on our second trip on her in January 2019. Check her out you will have a wonderful time.

 

 

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Check out http://www.starclipper.com

 

We took the Star Clipper out of Barbados for 14nights and of all our 31 cruises, this was the best. They also cruise Europe and transatlantic. Real sailing ships. Small passenger count. Unique experiences.

 

 

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What about canal cruising which is inferential to river cruising., There are trips in U.K. and France which I have always fancied doing and so far not got around to it.

 

Many will be DIY, but there are some organised ones too.

 

 

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We just finished our first Road Scholar https://www.roadscholar.org/ trip- this was land based, but they do cruises as well. We had a great time- there were many singles in our group that ranged from late 50s to 80s.

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Posted (edited)

We are doing far les cruising over the last six years of retirement. We got tired of it and felt we were missing too much. Now we do mostly independent land trips with the occasional last minute cruise for a change. Longest trip has been six/seven months but most are anywhere from six weeks to ten weeks (winter trips).

 

We have a general idea of where we plan to go. Air is usually one way or open jaw. Lots of spontaneous travel. Often we will only book a few days in advance.

 

We also switched to carry on only since this complements our style of travel. Not to mention that we only will travel with what we can each easily handle.

 

We have started to loook at alternative cruise lines. There appear to be lots of interesting ones out there. Looking for those that are not NA customer centric.

Edited by iancal

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Cruise and Maritime, Fred Olsen, P&O, Azamara (spelling) .....

Not NA customer centric but English speaking centric.

 

 

 

 

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Cruise and Maritime, Fred Olsen, P&O, Azamara (spelling) .....

Not NA customer centric but English speaking centric.

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Agree. Also Alaskan Marine Highway and Hurtigruten.

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Agree. Also Alaskan Marine Highway and Hurtigruten.

 

We mentioned Hurtigruten above, but that was just before we departed for that cruise, and now we've had the experience.

 

It was WONDERFUL.

We weren't quite sure what to expect, and we were prepared to be underwhelmed; we were, after all, going for the beautiful landscapes and chance of seeing some Northern Lights. And we DID :)

 

But the biggest surprise was the ship itself and also the great service. If one didn't already know it was a "ferry", and one didn't actually see an occasional car get off/on at various stops, well... we never would have known.

 

The comfort level of the ship was excellent; plenty of seating near windows in public areas. And the Trollfjord (and sister ship Midnatsol) have a two-level forward observatory lounge with *huge* forward windows, really allowing a terrific view of the Norwegian landscape.

 

We went in March, and thus there was plenty of "dark" for Northern Lights (or other astronomy), and also plenty of daylight to *see* the beauty of the area. Some of the scenery was breathtaking.

 

We flew to Oslo, spent a few days there, and then took the train to Bergen. That train ride was memorable in it's own right. There is one section where it seems almost otherworldly, like one could be on the moon (except for all the snow, of course). It would have been a shame to take that train during darkness.

 

Most of the cabins were *small*, no question about it. And very few had balconies, only a handful of suites.

We had an Owners Suite, and just loved it. (It was the only suite left when we booked.)

 

We are seriously considering another Hurtigruten cruise, or perhaps an Antarctic excursion with them!

 

GC

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I'm looking to retire next year and starting to make plans to become a mostly perpetual traveller - land and sea.

 

My husband passed, so it's just me, seeking the adventures I could never have while in my career and raising a child.

 

I want to take long cruises, but ones that are not prohibitively expensive, I don't need luxury, I just need to explore the parts of world I have never travelled to, particularly places that are not easy to reach by land.

 

I'm not interested in manufactured fun cruises. I like to exercise and dine well, but I don't need to be entertained on ship...I do well enough enjoying chats with others, reading, exercise, etc. I enjoy learning, so educational lectures are also of great interest to me.

 

I would prefer my fellow shipmates to be 40+ to share similar conversations, not necessarily focused on current school & kid topics, for example.

 

Should I look for a repositioning cruise, a world cruise, is there anything that fits what I am looking for? Would appreciate all suggestions. I can afford long cruises, just don't need to pay for the zing lol.

 

I am getting ready to book a Carnival cruise form Long Beach CA and ends in Singapore. It leaves October 4, 2019 and lasts 24 days. It will stop in Hawaii, Guam, Vietnam and finally Singapore. It is a Journeys Cruise. That means there will be Special Chefs brought on board to cook the cuisines of the cultures we will visit! It sounds amazing. I am 63 and a widow also. I am retired chef, due to an accident. I use a walker, but I can walk short distances without it. I also do not need to be entertained. I am self sufficient, well read, and very personable. I hope you find what you are looking for. I am so excited that Carnival is offering this opportunity. I want to eat Pho in Vietnam where Anthony Bourdain R.I.P. filmed with the famous Soup Lady. This is a bucket list trip for me.

My countdown clock is for my birthday cruise this year to Belize. It leaves 11/17 from New Orleans. I am so excited!

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We mentioned Hurtigruten above, but that was just before we departed for that cruise, and now we've had the experience.

 

It was WONDERFUL.

We weren't quite sure what to expect, and we were prepared to be underwhelmed; we were, after all, going for the beautiful landscapes and chance of seeing some Northern Lights. And we DID :)

But the biggest surprise was the ship itself and also the great service. If one didn't already know it was a "ferry", and one didn't actually see an occasional car get off/on at various stops, well... we never would have known.

The comfort level of the ship was excellent; plenty of seating near windows in public areas. And the Trollfjord (and sister ship Midnatsol) have a two-level forward observatory lounge with *huge* forward windows, really allowing a terrific view of the Norwegian landscape.

We went in March, and thus there was plenty of "dark" for Northern Lights (or other astronomy), and also plenty of daylight to *see* the beauty of the area. Some of the scenery was breathtaking.

We flew to Oslo, spent a few days there, and then took the train to Bergen. That train ride was memorable in it's own right. There is one section where it seems almost otherworldly, like one could be on the moon (except for all the snow, of course). It would have been a shame to take that train during darkness.

Most of the cabins were *small*, no question about it. And very few had balconies, only a handful of suites.

We had an Owners Suite, and just loved it. (It was the only suite left when we booked.)

We are seriously considering another Hurtigruten cruise, or perhaps an Antarctic excursion with them!

GC

 

I agree with your comments on Hurtigruten's explorer ships. I enjoyed my cruise to Antarctica etc. on Hurtigruten's Fram so much, next month I will be cruising on her again on B2B cruises from Greenland to Miami.

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Well I am going to go in a different direction - you said land and sea so I am going to suggest you look into Gate 1 Tours. "See more of the world for less" is their slogan and they mean it !

We have done 3 tours with them but there are many many people who have done 30+ tours with them. We have done Egypt (15 days) Morocco (15 days) and France (8 day) I did France with my daughter (it was her Christmas present one year) but Egypt and Morocco with husband. Many solo travelers use Gate 1. They have 3 tiers - regular tours (no more than 40) Discovery (no more than 22) and Luxury. Check out their pricing (you won't believe what you get for the $$) and they go everywhere !!!!!

Now - some are all land tours but they do have some that are land and cruise combined. Some Greek trips do short cruises and some of the other tours also.

I will also say that if you look at the prices you are going to think it won't be a great experience. But I will assure you that our experiences have been nothing but spectacular. As a side note - we are in a position to spend a lot more - but why would we if we can get a wonderful trip for less? There is a Facebook page also that kind of mimics this website for info etc,

 

Whatever you do - enjoy your retirement - enjoy traveling the world - enjoy life !!!!

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Posted (edited)
Check out Voyages to Antiquity. they have just one small (300+) passenger ship, called The Aegean Odyssey .

Voyages to Antiquity carries about 350 passengers. I was on it 10 years ago, it has since been refitted. Your cost includes wine with supper, and all excursions. The entertainment will be local singers, musicians or lecturers. There are only 2 dining areas, no waterslide, golf range, casino or rock climbing wall. It is geared to mature passengers who are interested in the history of the ports. Not a trip to take young kids on. The cabins are small but serviceable. Last winter they tried to make their first trips in the Caribbean, (I was booked) but as most of their ports were wiped out by hurricanes, the ship stayed in Europe. I believe they may also go East.

Edited by littlebrownbook

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I’m kind of in the same “boat” as you except I have 2Y 9M 28D until I’m retired. I’m looking at world cruise options and reading every world cruise blog I can find. I’ve probably found more than a dozen blogs by lurking in the world cruise and roll call forums. I’ve learned a great deal about the lines that offer these cruises, their itineraries and their pricing options from reading these blogs. It’s kinda my latest obsession.

I don’t know your circumstances but as solo traveler, there is always that nasty thing called the solo supplement that is usually 100% of the PP fare so I’m going to use a travel agent that is a world “cruise specialist” in Seattle. They are experienced working with solo cruisers in negotiating fares and they offer discounts, perks, and OBC.

 

 

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I too have used this travel agent, they do have excellent packages. I have never tried to go solo with them , but may try them for a cruise next year.

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Good to hear the feedback on Gate 1. I am looking at Gate 1 and OAT for a guided trip to India as I write this.

 

DW is not interested so I will go on my own. It will be the first one. We have only done independent travel and cruises.

 

Your comments mirror those of a gentleman that we met in Vietnam. He and his wife were on a Gate 1 tour. Their fourth. He raved about them and said they had another one or two in the hopper.

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I have enjoyed cruising on Alaskan Marine Highway and Hurtigruten's Coastal Voyage. I would love to cruise on the ferry which visits the Tahitian islands.

 

We did a land cruise holiday in Alaska with Elder hostel, which was most enjoyable. I believe it has another name now.

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I have enjoyed cruising on Alaskan Marine Highway and Hurtigruten's Coastal Voyage. I would love to cruise on the ferry which visits the Tahitian islands.

 

We did a land cruise holiday in Alaska with Elder hostel, which was most enjoyable. I believe it has another name now.

 

Hi MM...

 

What Tahitian Islands ferry?

Sounds fascinating!

 

(We'd never have asked had we not had such a wonderful trip on Hurtigruten's "ferry" :))

 

Is it more like the Alaskan Marine Highway cruising?

 

Many thanks!

 

GC

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Hi MM...

 

What Tahitian Islands ferry?

Sounds fascinating!

 

(We'd never have asked had we not had such a wonderful trip on Hurtigruten's "ferry" :))

 

Is it more like the Alaskan Marine Highway cruising?

 

Many thanks!

 

GC

 

Aranui 5.

 

http://www.aranui.com

 

This is a unique 14 day ferry journey from Papeete to Marqueses Islands in Tahiti. It is a supply ferry to the islands, with entertainment. Google it - you will be pleasantly surprised. It is on my wish list for next year.

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Aranui 5.

 

www.aranui.com

 

This is a unique 14 day ferry journey from Papeete to Marqueses Islands in Tahiti. It is a supply ferry to the islands, with entertainment. Google it - you will be pleasantly surprised. It is on my wish list for next year.

 

Thanks.

Looks fascinating.

 

I had read an occasional mention of this, but didn't realize what it was.

We are eager for "different" trips, along with some of "the regular" :)

 

GC

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Was on the Aranui 5 in June 2016 and am booked to go back on her January 2019 on a maiden cruise to the Pitcairn Island. If you want something a little different you should try this. She has room for 245 passengers and the crew are your entertainment. 7a59ab8ba96056775fc67735c8b48a5f.jpg07724d442d27a76bb71d0ab93992c071.jpg

 

 

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I looked at the Aranui website and couldn't find any price range. That makes me pretty sure it is out of my price range. Could anyone give me an approximate price range or tell me where to find it?

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I looked at the Aranui website and couldn't find any price range. That makes me pretty sure it is out of my price range. Could anyone give me an approximate price range or tell me where to find it?

 

I Googled "Aranui price" and found the link.

 

GC

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Was on the Aranui 5 in June 2016 and am booked to go back on her January 2019 on a maiden cruise to the Pitcairn Island. If you want something a little different you should try this. She has room for 245 passengers and the crew are your entertainment. 7a59ab8ba96056775fc67735c8b48a5f.jpg07724d442d27a76bb71d0ab93992c071.jpg

 

 

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Thanks.

 

We are never "big entertainer types", so this would be fine.

 

Dare I ask how the food was?

Were there choices?

(On Hurtigruten, breakfast and lunch were terrific buffets. Dinner was plated, but the "choice" was posted earlier in the day, and one could request something else. Surprisingly, we never needed to, as the food was really good.)

 

GC

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