More than 300 passengers and crew on the boutique cruise liner are on a special voyage to Tahiti and then, for some, deep into the Pacific Ocean, chasing a total eclipse that will blot out the sun on the morning of July 2.
Most passengers will join the cruise on Wednesday in Tahiti – and from there they will head south past Gambier Islands to Pitcairn Island and then, on July 2, they will sail west into the ocean towards the Cooks.
They aim to be at the “ideal location” for totality: a latitude of 24° 48.640’ S, and a longitude of 133° 38.763’ W.
For those embarking in Papeete, cruise company Wilderness Travel charged from $14,000 to $37,000 for a cabin. And it has sold out.
Sieni Tiraa, destination development coordinator for Cook Islands Tourism, said the Paul Gauguin visited Aitutaki and then Rarotonga this week. About 200 passengers went on organised tours ranging from safari tours, lagoon tours and cross island treks.
The ship will carry its own astronomers, Alex Filippenko and Rick Fienberg, as well as Polynesian cultural anthropologist Mark Eddowes, an expert in the archaeology of French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. Eddowes has been working with UNESCO on the study of marae in Cook Islands.
During the days at sea, the passengers can enjoy presentations by the team of experts on the total solar eclipse.
The cruise liner will also carry a meteorologist to judge the best position to sight the total solar eclipse. They estimate totality will last close to 3 minutes and 16 seconds.