Cook Islands Cruises

Cook Islands Cruises
The Cook Islands are a group of 15 islands in the center of Polynesia in the South Pacific, just west of Tahiti. The islands cover an ocean area roughly the size of India; however, the land area is fairly small and population is sparse at less than 20,000. The Cook Islands vary in size and terrain. Rarotonga, the largest island, is mountainous with lush vegetation and lined with white beaches; some of the smaller islands consist of low coral atolls. Some ocean liners include Rarotonga and/or Aitutaki as ports of call in their world cruises. Local operators offer day cruises of the beautiful blue lagoons.

Cruise West Cruises

Increasingly, cruise lines are adding Cook Islands' ports to their South Pacific itineraries. Small adventure line Cruise West's 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus offers a 15-night cruise (Nov. 17-Dec. 3, 2010) that features four ports in the Cook Islands. In an itinerary that also includes ports in Fiji and Tahiti, the Spirit of Oceanus visits Atiu, Aitutaki, Rarotonga and Palmerston Atoll. The cruise embarks from Papeete, Tahiti, and disembarks in Lautoka, Fiji. Brochure prices start at $7,895, but booking by Jan. 15, 2010, can save you up to $1,600 per cabin.

Cruise West
(888) 851-8133

Paul Gauguin Cruises

The five-star Paul Gauguin, a small luxury vessel built to sail the shallow waters of Tahiti, is the only ship to cruise the region year-round. The ship visits Aitutaki, which became famous as the home to a "Survivor" series, and Rarotonga on the following 2010 itineraries:

Cook Islands and Society Islands (11 nights, Papeete R/T) on Feb. 9 and April 6 (rates are 50 percent lower, starting at $3,997, if you book by Dec. 18, 2009), on July 13 (early booking rate deadline is Jan. 31, 2010), on Aug. 24 (early rate deadline, Feb. 28, 2010), and Oct. 12 (early rate deadline is April 30).

The 15-night Fiji Eastbound Cruise, which includes ports in Tonga, Tahiti and the Cooks, departs May 22, 2010 (early booking deadline is Dec. 18, 2009 with rates starting at $6,545).

The 13-night Fiji Westbound Cruise embarks on May 8, with an early savings deadline of Dec. 18, 2009. Early rates start at $5,695.

The new 14-night New Zealand, Tonga, Cook and Society Cruise from Papeete to Auckland, is offered on Nov. 6 and again on Nov. 21 (book before May 31 for early rates, starting at $6,195).

Paul Gauguin Cruises
(800) 848-6172

Yachts of Seabourn

Another of the top small-ship lines, the Yachts of Seabourn, will feature Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, as part of its new Odyssey's first world cruise. The 33-night segment of the luxury world cruise departs Los Angeles on Jan. 21, 2010, and arrives in Sydney, Australia. The itinerary includes ports in Australia, New Zealand, Christmas Island, Kiribati, Tahiti and Hawaii. Brochure rates start at $19,614.

Yachts of Seabourn
(800) 929-9391

Local Lagoon Cruises

Since the weather is sunny and warm most of the year--warmest between November and May--local operators offer the cruises of the beautiful blue lagoons year-round. On Rarotonga, Captain Tama's Lagoon Cruises offers sailings Monday through Saturday on a glass-bottom boat from Muri Lagoon to Motu Koromiri Island. Guests can snorkel in a black pearl farm and view colorful fish and coral formations.

On Aitutaki, home of the Cooks' only resort and spa on a lagoon, Aitutaki Adventures, Bishops Lagoon Cruises, Kia Orana Cruise Lagoon Tour and Paradise Island Lagoon Tours also offer day cruises.

Captain Tama's Lagoon Cruizes
PO Box 3017
Cook Islands
+011 682 27350

Article Written By Debbie Selinsky

Debbie Selinsky is an award-winning writer based in North Carolina. Selinsky is the former senior editor of "Success Magazine" and deputy director of the Duke University News Service. She has written about travel for many years and specializes in cruise travel, having sailed on more than 100 cruises. Selinsky attended North Greenville University, Oregon Institute of Technology and the Poynter Institute for Journalistic Excellence.

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