By Cailey Rizzo
Updated: May 07, 2019
Courtesy of Aqua Expeditions

Boutique luxury cruise line Aqua Expeditions is expanding.

The cruise line announced Monday that it will acquire two new ships by 2020, adding new destinations to its exclusive roster.

“Aqua Expeditions has pioneered luxury small ship river cruising over the past 12 years,” Francesco Galli Zugaro, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Aqua Expeditions, told Travel + Leisure. “We are doubling our fleet and expanding into coastal expedition cruises by launching our very first yacht, the Aqua Blu.”

The Aqua Blu is expected to make its maiden voyage in November of this year, sailing around the east Indonesian archipelago. Then, in July 2020, the Aqua Nera will join the fleet, sailing along the Peruvian Amazon.

Courtesy of Aqua Expeditions

Currently, Aqua Expeditions operates river cruises along the Amazon and Mekong rivers with two ships, the Aria Amazon and the Aqua Mekong. The cruise line was launched in 2007 with cruises along the Amazon. In 2014, the cruise line expanded with a new ship that took passengers up and down the Mekong River, through Cambodia and Vietnam.

The cruise line has become renowned as one of the world’s most luxurious river cruise experiences: “We can now offer guests personalized luxury travel experiences to many remote and beautiful parts of the world with all the comfort and luxury they have come to expect from us,” said Zugaro.

The five-star service includes local guides, personalized land excursions, meals by either local or Michelin-starred chefs, and luxurious personal suites. There are no more than 20 suites on board the ships, ensuring that cruise size retains its “boutique” factor. And, for every guest on board, there is one crew member.

Courtesy of Aqua Expeditions

When it takes to sea later this year, the Aqua Blu will be the cruise line’s first coastal ship and the first long-range expedition-class yacht permanently based in the east Indonesia archipelago. It is a refurbished British Naval Explorer, called HMS Beagle, with 15 suites onboard.

“We will bring the Aqua Blu up to world-class cruising specifications before our inaugural voyage in November,” said Zugaro. “The Aqua Blu will pair naval pedigree with state-of-the-art amenities and seafaring technology, and that will provide guests with the utmost comfort when sailing the East Indonesian seas.”

From the ship, guests will be able to partake in guided diving or snorkeling excursions, or kayak or paddleboard around the water. Guests can also relax in the outdoor plunge pool and spa onboard.

Courtesy of Aqua Expeditions

Itineraries will explore Indonesia’s “Coral Triangle,” a part of Indonesia known for its rich biodiversity and historical import during the 16th and 17th centuries as part of the spice trade routes. Guests onboard the ship can choose from three seven-night itineraries, exploring Komodo National Park, Raja Ampat or Ambon and Spice Islands. Activities featured in some of the itineraries include exploring an active volcano island, exploring old Dutch forts and diving at Cape Kri, which holds the world record for most species spotted in a single 90-minute dive.

“There’s no country to sail in that is quite like Indonesia,” Zugaro told T+L. “Our guests have the opportunity to discover some of the most captivating land- and seascapes in the world, a unique collection of wildlife that is the result of the mingling of species across Asia and Oceania over many millennia, and the most diverse marine habitats in the world.”

Weeklong itineraries aboard the Aqua Blu start at $7,525 per person.

The Aqua Nera will supplement the cruise line’s current offerings on the Peruvian Amazon when it commences service in July 2020. Guests will venture to the depths of the Peruvian Amazon, including small group excursions into the rainforest for up-close experiences with the wildlife.

Courtesy of Aqua Expeditions

According to the cruise line, the Aqua Nera was “built to become the most state-of-the-art river boat to sail the Amazon.” The ship’s interior and 20 suites are designed to reflect elements of Peruvian, Spanish, and Portuguese cultures during the rubber boom era of the late 19th century. Meals onboard are crafted by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, a Peruvian chef whose high-end cuisine takes inspiration from native Amazonian produce.

Passengers aboard the Aqua Nera will be able to choose from three, four- or seven-night itineraries, ranging from $4,125 to $10,325 per person (based on double occupancy).

Booking for the new cruise ships opens May 8, 2019.

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