Aqua Expeditions was launched in 2007 by founder and CEO, Francesco Galli Zugaro, to fulfill his dream of bringing unparalleled travel experiences, in the utmost comfort, to modern-day adventurers cruising the world’s greatest rivers.
Beginning with the Peruvian section of the Amazon River, one of the world’s last great unexplored regions, Galli Zugaro commissioned the custom design of the Aqua Amazon, the first cruiseship to set sail on this stretch of the Amazon.
Increased demand for Aqua Expeditions uniquely intimate, life enriching river safari led to the launch of a second custom designed vessel, the Aria Amazon in 2011, with 16 suites designed by Puig with a similar five-star boutique hotel sophistication, and cruising the same captivating stretch of the Peruvian Amazon amidst equally thoughtful comforts and fascinating wildlife. With hand-crafted Amazon River itineraries from and to the remote Amazonian city of Iquitos, the Aria Amazon carries travelers to the source of the Amazon and the remote Pacaya Samiria Reserve. Expert professional naturalist guides lead guests in small groups by skiff up Amazon River tributaries to first-hand encounters with Amazon wildlife from pink dolphins and piranha, to capuchin monkeys and three toed sloth hiding in the rainforest canopy, and hoatzin, toucans and macaws gliding seemingly effortlessly across the cloudless, cerulean sky.
Success on one of the world’s great rivers encouraged Galli Zugaro to set off across the continents in search of the next once-in-a-lifetime luxury river experience for Aqua Expeditions. On the Mekong River between Cambodia and Vietnam, he found that elusive journey, one that would capture imaginations as profoundly as did the Peruvian Amazon. In October 2014, Aqua Expeditions launched a third luxury vessel, the 20-suite Aqua Mekong on the historic Mekong River between Siem Reap, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Floor to ceiling picture windows aboard Aqua Mekong allow guests to enjoy captivating panoramas of emerald flooded forests, colonial churches and stilt villages in the privacy of their suite. Guided shore excursions include enlightening visits to remote Buddhist temples and onto Cambodia’s vast Tonle Sap Lake before continuing on to Angkor Wat.
ARIA AMAZON DINING ROOM:
Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s Amazonia-inspired cuisine offers up plenty of reasons to take one’s eyes off the captivating landscapes showcased by the floor-to-ceiling windows which define this elegant space.
Designed to balance the stunning scenery, the refined interior of the Aria Amazon dining room has been stylishly finished with contemporary Peruvian art, fine china and crystal glassware. These aesthetic elements are matched by attentive, personalized service from long serving staff that quickly learn guest names and tastes, from Peruvian coffee in the morning to the evening’s fine South American and European wines.
Choose to dine à deux, or family style among new friends. Whatever dishes you choose among Schiaffino’s fresh, ever-changing modern Amazon jungle influenced menus, perhaps the hearts of palm soufflé followed by an Amazon bass tiradito, do save room for dessert, be it a warm banana tart or classic chocolate fondant.
AQUA MEKONG DINING ROOM:
Only the cuisine of a Michelin starred master like our Consulting Chef David Thompson could match the stunning space created here by floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Mekong River that let in natural sunlight, palm fringed vistas and vibrant village life.
Designed to match and occasionally distract from the stunning surroundings, Thompson’s dishes incorporate the timeless flavors and ancient sustainable ingredients of the Mekong’s many cultures and fertile fields. Thompson built his reputation between Sydney, London and Bangkok on Southeast Asian recipes culled from historic sources, a delectable tradition he continues on board the Aqua Mekong, bringing together the finest recipes of Khmer and Vietnamese river cultures.
Subtly balancing this timeless scenery, the refined interior has been stylishly finished with contemporary Asian artifacts, fine china and crystal glassware. These design elements are matched here by attentive, personalized service from English speaking staff that quickly learns guest names and tastes, from Vietnamese sweet coffee in the morning to the evening’s fine imported wines.
Choose to make dinner a date night, or dine family style among friends old and new. Thompson’s menus are ever changing, designed to incorporate the day’s catch and the market’s freshest produce, be it smoked fish, tapioca and vegetable dumplings, Vietnamese catfish minced with shallots, chilies and Thai basil, grilled river prawns with peanut relish. Then finish with something considerably more decadent, like a luscious Vietnamese artisanal chocolate fondant.
The quality of service should determine the amount of any tipping. Aqua Expeditions recommend an amount in the range of US $20 – $30 per passenger per day for the crew (to be divided among all the crew members) and between US $7 – $10 per passenger per day for the guides.
The total suggested tip for Aqua Expeditions staff on your trip would therefore be somewhere between US $81.00 - US $120.00 per passenger in total for those on a 3 night trip or US $108.00 - US $ 160.00 per passenger those on a 4 night trip.
Please note that these amounts are suggested levels of gratuities and that this is entirely at the discretion of our guests aboard the Aria Amazon and Aqua Mekong.
Aqua welcomes families with children, as long as they are age seven or older. Four of their suites are interconnected to cater for families. And accommodation for one child or additional adult is available. Their naturalist guides are very friendly with kids and all of the staff will provide the necessary care for a family.
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