Cruise to the 2011 Marquesas Art Festival onboard the Aranui 3

Every four years delegations from the Polynesian triangle celebrate the deep-rooted culture of the Marquesas with a spectacular arts festival. To coincide with the festival, Aranui 3 will operate a 15-day cruise sailing from Tahiti, December 2011.

Online PR News – 26-November-2010 – – A group of islands filled with history, mystery and mythology, the Marquesas is a remote archipelago around 900 miles northeast of Tahiti, where every four years delegations from the Polynesian triangle get together for a festival to celebrate the islands deep-rooted culture and traditions. 2011 is a festival year and the theme ‘The Apprentice’ has been chosen for the four-day event on Nuku Hiva Island in the Marquesas, 15 to 18 December 2011. To coincide with the festival dates, the passenger-cargo ship Aranui 3 ( will deviate from their monthly two-week odyssey between Tahiti and the handful of populated islands in the Marquesas archiplelago, to offer a specially designed 15-day Marquesas Art Festival cruise sailing from Tahiti on 9 December 2011.

Every four years a powerful symbolic theme is chosen for the Matavaa (festival) to demonstrate the strength and dynamism of the Marquesan culture. The 2011 festival will feature ‘The Apprentice’ theme focusing on the young apprentices living on the islands and the cultural skills and knowledge inherited from their ancestors.

Around 2000 participants including delegations from New Zealand, New Caledonia, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Hawaii as well as the Marquesas, of course, are expected at this once-every-four-year celebration of the archipelago’s unique culture in all its guises – tattooing, sculpture and traditional massages, games and languages, as well as fishing, farming and sports.

The official opening of the 2011 Marquesas Art Festival will take place at Taiohae on the island of Nuku Hiva, where on the 15 December 2011 the Aranui 3 will be docked at the main wharf giving passengers easy access into the town and the festivities. The Marquesas delegation will feature in the festival’s opening dance sequence illustrating Te Henua Enana (Land of Men), the name given to the islands by the Polynesians.

‘The Apprentice’ theme will run throughout the four days of the festival with demonstrations of totoko or battles on stilts, maka which involves target or slingshot shooting, pehe a children’s game of making figures with string, niu or spinning tops and teka or Polynesia style javelin. Visitors can also see the making of traditional weapons and canoes, enjoy traditional massages or get carried away with legends of these lands filled with history, mystery and mythology.

The rugged northeastern side of Nuku Hiva is the location for day two of the festival and Aranui 3 will reposition to Taipivai Bay to be close to the action. It was in Taipivai where Herman Melville reputedly cohabited with the powerful Taipi tribe after jumping his whaling boat in 1842 – all good material for his mid-nineteenth century best seller, Typee. Cultural presentations from the Aitua (apprentices) and the foreign delegations will be followed by an opportunity to taste traditional Marquesan culinary specialties.

On the non-festival days Aranui 3 will revert to its dual role delivering vital supplies to the residents of the isolated Marquesas, whilst offering their guests the opportunity to explore more of the archipelago’s six inhabited islands. While the ship loads and unloads its cargo at each island destination, guests will go ashore where four-wheel drive jeeps driven by locals will be waiting to take them on spectacular safaris over the mountains to mysterious, unspoiled jungles – still much the same as described in Herman Melville’s novel, Typee. The untouched nature and fascinating culture of these islands has inspired many writers and artists over the years notably Gaugin, one of the world’s most famous and best-loved artists from the early 20th century, who immersed himself in the Marquesan culture to invest his art with deeper meaning, ritual and myth.

Departure date and prices
The dates of the special 15-day Marquesas Art Festival cruise are 9 – 23 December 2011. Starting and ending in Papeete, the cruise costs Euros 3715 per person sharing a standard twin-bedded outside cabin with private facilities, including full board whilst on the ship, all excursions and taxes. Flights to/from Papeete, Tahiti are not included in these prices.

About the festival
Established by Motu Haka, an association founded in Hakahau, Ua Pou, the first Marquesas Art Festival took place on the island of Ua Poa in 1987. Although organized every two years initially the festival has been a four yearly event since 1991.

Aranui 3 (
Purpose built in 2003 Aranui 3 is uniquely designed for its dual role as a freighter and passenger ship, carrying up to 2000 tons of cargo and 180 passengers. There are 86 fully air conditioned cabins ranging from top of the range suites with balconies to deluxe and twin-bedded cabins, with well-priced dormitory style accommodation on a lower deck. There are two comfortable lounges, a swimming pool and gym and a full program of lectures on Marquesan history, culture and art. English is widely spoken onboard and all presentations are given in English.