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New Aqua Expeditions vessels offer much for Aussie market

May 16, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australia could become the number-one source market for Aqua Expeditions, following the launch of two new luxury expedition vessels, one based in Indonesia which will potentially be capable of cruising to Australia at some later date.

Aqua Expeditions founder and chief executive, Francesco Zugaro, said the appeal of imaginative Indonesian itineraries operated by a luxury vessel based in that country would greatly raise Aqua Expeditions’ profile in Australia. It could lift Australia from being the company’s fourth largest source market into a higher position, possibly even first place. Currently, the US is the biggest source marker, followed by South America and Britain.

Aqua Blu is Aqua Expeditions’ first-ever coastal ship and the first ever long-range expedition-class yacht to be based permanently in the East Indonesian Archipelago, with year-round departures.

On a recent visit to Sydney, Zugaro said Indonesia did not permit foreign-flagged vessels to operate from its territory, which effectively gives Aqua Expeditions the market to itself.

Along with the company’s other new ship, Aqua Nera on the Amazon, Aqua Blu would offer once-in-a-lifetime trips.

Aqua Blu

“I want people to feel they are getting on a private yacht without paying for a private yacht,” Zugaro said.

“We will never venture into the mainstream or larger ships.”

Partnering with renowned Netherlands-based yacht designer Cor D. Rover, the completely refurbished Aqua Blu has a rich heritage: it was formerly the British naval explorer HMS Beagle, a Bulldog-class coastal survey vessel of the Royal Navy, named in honour of the ship which carried Charles Darwin.

From 16 November 2019, Aqua Blu will serve three primary destinations on seven-night coastal cruise itineraries:

  • Raja Ampat (round-trip; December through to February; 10 departures a year);
  • Bali-Komodo National Park (bi-directional; April to September; 23 departures a year);
  • Ambon & Spice Islands (round-trip; October to November; seven departures a year).

Zugaro said these seven-night trips would give plenty of opportunity for Aqua Expeditions’ travel industry partners, as nothing comparable had previously been available. As well as travellers aged around 50 to 55, they were generating much interest from families.

Aqua Blu, dining room

Along with exploring multiple destinations in East Indonesia on a single itinerary and discovering exotic locales such as The Forgotten Islands, Aqua Blu will offer highly-limited 12-night journeys.

These ‘Cross-Destination Voyages’ will not exceed four departures a year, each sailing a different route.

Rates for seven- and 12-night Aqua Blu itineraries range from USD 7525 to USD 16,475 per person, double occupancy. Prices are inclusive of everything except tipping spa and hard liquor, Zugaro said. Crew is 100% local everywhere.

With 15 individually-designed sea-facing suites in three cabin categories, Aqua Blu will offer onboard certified dive guides, a sun deck, indoor lounge and bar, outdoor jacuzzi and spa, plus top-of-the-line non-motorised watersports equipment, including diving and snorkelling gear, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

Aqua Expeditions’ other new vessel is Aqua Nera, a new-build river cruise boat, with interior by renowned architect Noor Design. Designed and built in Vietnam, the vessel will sail to the Peruvian Amazon, where it is due to begin operations on 1 August 2020.

Aqua Nera will offer three-, four- and seven-night river cruise itineraries with rates ranging from USD 4125 to USD 10,325 per person, double occupancy.

Aqua Expeditions founder and chief executive, Francesco Zugaro

As Aqua Expeditions vessels, both Aqua Blu and Aqua Nera feature world-class cuisine experiences by renowned consulting chefs. They are already open for booking.

Written by Peter Needham

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