In Ship Shape

Princess Cruises’ December launch of Tahiti-based sailings isn’t the only news making waves in the waters of French Polynesia these days. Apart from Princess’ takeover of the former Renaissance Cruises ships R3 and R4, several operators of smaller cruise vessels will debut new service or new vessels in the coming months.

By: David Peterkofsky

Princess Cruises’ December launch of Tahiti-based sailings isn’t the only news making waves in the waters of French Polynesia these days. Apart from Princess’ takeover of the former Renaissance Cruises ships R3 and R4, several operators of smaller cruise vessels will debut new service or new vessels in the coming months.

Among the developments:

" Aggressor Fleet this week sent the luxury dive yacht Tahiti Aggressor on its maiden voyage.

The 16-passenger boat sails seven-day inclusive scuba charters out of Rangiroa, in the Tuamotu atoll chain, spending its time entirely within the Tuamotu archipelago. Aggressor Fleet characterizes the departures as being for intermediate to advanced divers.

Travelers spend the bulk of their days at sea “drift diving” through the passes and channels of the various ring-shaped atolls, looking out for the black-tip sharks, dolphins, barracuda, eagle rays and other marine life. Atolls visited on the itinerary include Rangiroa, Kaukara, Fakarava, Toau and Apataki. Cruises run from Saturday to Saturday and cost $2,095 per person, double, through Jan. 4, 2003, and $2,395 from Jan. 4, 2003, to Jan. 3, 2004. Air and first-night hotel stay at the Sheraton in Papeete are not included in the price, but the price does include meals, all dives and use of compressed air tanks, weights and weight belts.

The Tahiti Aggressor is the company’s first foray in French Polynesia; it also operates franchise live-aboard dive yachts in Belize, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Fiji, Palau, Truk and the Galapagos Islands.

Aggressor Fleet pays travel agents 12% commission on individuals and 15% on groups of six or more.

Call 800-348-2628.

Web site: www.aggressor.com.

" The Aranui III, a 100-passenger freighter being constructed for Compagnie Polynesienne de Transporte Maritime, is expected to sail on its maiden voyage in January.

Upon its debut, the Aranui III will sail 16-day, 15-night itineraries out of Papeete to the Marquesas Islands, like its predecessor, the Aranui II. According to a spokesperson, CPTM has sold the Aranui II to Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, which plans to base the ship in Florida.

The Aranui III will be double the size of the old freighter, accommodating 208 passengers in 87 cabins, compared with a capacity of 85 passengers and 36 cabins on the old ship.

Call 650-574-2575 or 800-972-7268.

Web site: www. aranui.com.

" Bora Bora Cruises released its 2003 sales kit, which includes a large brochure with computer-generated images for two vessels it will introduce in April 2003.

When they enter service next spring, the two new ships the Tu Moana and Tia Moana will join the company’s flagship vessel, the Haumana, a 110-foot, 19-cabin luxury catamaran.

The two new single-hulled ships, each with 37 cabins, will enter service April 28, sailing seven-night cruises out of Raiatea on Mondays. The 230-foot ships will call at Huahine, Taha’a and Bora Bora.

The cost is $2,799 per person, double, with an early-booking price of $2,599. Bora Bora Cruises also is offering a Discovery special, for sailings between April 28 and July 26, 2003, priced at $2,426 per person, double. And as of July 2003, the Haumana will no longer sail on seven-day itineraries, instead operating alternating three- and four-night sailings out of Bora Bora. Bora Bora Cruises’ sailings are sold through the major Tahiti wholesalers.

Call 866-907-8148.

Web site: www.boraborapearlcruises.com.

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