Aqua Expeditions' third ship will have a design that resembles Aqua Mekong, which entered the market in 2014. // © 2016 Aqua Expeditions
Feature image (above): Clients who sail the Amazon with Aqua Expeditions may come face to face with the river's giant water lilies. // © 2016 Aqua Expeditions
Aqua Expeditions has announced a third Amazon vessel, which will launch in December 2017. The company debuted in the Amazon in 2007 with two intimate luxury vessels — the 12-suite Aqua Amazon and the 16-suite Aria Amazon — and extended into the Mekong in 2014. (Sadly, the company's Aqua Amazon sank July 16 as the result of an explosion, with eight crew members recovering in the hospital and another seven people missing. No passengers were onboard.)
Francesco Galli Zugaro, founder and CEO of Aqua Expeditions, says the third ship is a response to increased demand for luxury cruising in the region, and it will allow the company to provide new and varied itineraries in the destination.
Construction starts this December for the all-suite ship in Peru, with a design similar to the line’s Aqua Mekong. The collaboration between Noor Designs of Vietnam and Jordi Puig of Peru includes twenty 320-square-foot suites, a spa, a fitness room, a pool and four custom-built tenders for exploration from the ship.
The company’s product is high-end cruising in Peru’s largest reserve in the Amazon, Pacaya Samiria Reserve. The 5-million-acre rainforest area, known as the Mirrored Forest, is accessible only by water. Zugaro’s vision when he started Aqua Expeditions was to provide luxury cruising with insider access to remote parts of the reserve and the Amazonian communities. He uses outstanding guides to lead visitors into the triangular reserve, bound by the Maranon and Ucayali rivers and filled with birds in impossible colors, acrobatic monkeys and flocks of butterflies that follow boats like seagulls. In winter, the company takes travelers into the flooded jungle via small inlets; in summer, the beaches emerge, and guests can penetrate the area onshore.
Naturalists help visitors sight endangered pink Amazon river dolphins, jaguars, sloths, caimans and capybara. Guests also have the opportunity to meet some of the 30,000 people within Pacaya Samiria and see how they live. Park rangers explain some of the innovations in sustainability and conservation taking place in the reserve, in addition to interpreting the plant and animal life.
"We are excited to be expanding our product in the Peruvian Amazon and maintaining our position of market maker, and we are pleased that our product has become synonymous with luxury river cruising,” Zugaro said. “The extraordinary demand demonstrated by our past guests and trade partners has only fueled our expansion and growth in the small-ship expedition segment. We have some exciting new destinations we will be announcing this summer to complement our current destination offering."