The voyage is likely to be undertaken by the Lady Moana, though when CINews spoke to a Taio Shipping spokesman last week, that had not been finally decided.
Originally the trip was planned to be the first voyage for the company’s newest boat, the Grinna, but the spokesman said delays in obtaining a licence from the Transport ministry to operate the vessel had made this impossible.
“We’ve been waiting for about a month now,” he said. “It’s not supposed to take that long, but it’s out of our hands.”
The vessel was fully booked with passengers and would probably leave this afternoon, the spokesman added. “It could be after lunch, depending on how we go with the cargo.”
CINews understands some of the passengers are attending a family reunion on Manihiki. The spokesman said the voyage would take just over a week, all going well.
“If the sea is smooth and conditions are good, it takes about four days to get to the island – over all, the return voyage can take anything from two to four weeks.”
With many overseas-based Cook Islanders returning to their home country and islands for the Christmas holidays, Taio Shipping had been busy making trips to the southern islands including Atiu, Mangaia and Palmerston, the spokesman added.
Meanwhile, when the Grinna finally enters service after a wait of almost six months, it will be welcomed by both locals and adventurous visitors alike.
The former Norwegian research vessel has comfortable and well-appointed cabins and marks Taio Shipping’s first serious foray into the tourist market.
After making the four-month voyage to Rarotonga from Norway in July, the Grinna had to be extensively modified.
“We had to do a lot of re-arranging,” the spokesman said. “The set up was completely different to what we use.”
The Grinna replaces the ill-fated 40 metre vessel Moana Nui, which went aground on the reef off Nassau in February last year on its fourth voyage.
An enquiry was launched into the grounding and orders for its removal made, but the vessel is still there, and is understood to be partially blocking the island’s lagoon entrance.