Aqua Expeditions’ newly launched 20-suite luxury river vessel, Aqua Nera, successfully embarked on its maiden voyage in the remote Peruvian Amazon from 3-10 July 2021.
On board were 37 guests who sailed on 3-, 4- and 7-night explorations into the depths of the world’s most biodiverse rainforest, in an exclusive journey hosted by the company’s CEO and founder, Francesco Galli Zugaro.
Guests were the first to experience Aqua Nera’s cutting-edge concept, custom-designed by Vietnam-based architect and design firm Noor Studio. Zugaro led the expeditions and shared insights into the ship’s 12,350-nautical mile journey across the globe from Vietnam to Peru, and the elements of local culture and nature that inspired her distinctive design.
“I am thrilled to be back in the unspoiled sanctuary that is the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve – where it all started 14 years ago – for the launch of our fourth vessel after an incredibly challenging period. For me, the Aqua Nera is a symbol of resilience and our ability to keep pushing boundaries in product design and guest experience. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to share this special moment with my talented crew, my family, and our valued guests,” Zugaro said.
The itineraries are tailored with once-in-a-lifetime experiences that included intimate encounters with wildlife and adventures ranging from jungle walks, spotting the legendary Amazonian pink dolphins, piranha fishing, kayaking along the river’s narrow black water tributaries, and more. Excursions were carried out in small groups, guided by Aqua Expeditions’ expert naturalists, who shared their excitement in returning to nature after a long pause in operations.
Award-winning Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino oversaw the cuisine for this exclusive departure. As Consulting Chef for Aqua Expeditions’ Amazon ships, he premiered Aqua Nera’s new rainforest-to-table menu, highlighting the fresh, exotic, and largely unknown native produce of the Amazon rainforest – “the earth’s unexplored pantry”, echoing the boutique luxury expedition company’s commitment to sustainability and supporting local producers.
Onboard, guests indulged in the ultrachic and luxurious amenities that Aqua Nera has to offer, including spacious and elegant indoor and outdoor lounges, a river-facing gym with the region’s first designer boxing corner, an observation deck, a billiards room, private lounge with movie screening facilities, spa, and an outdoor plunge pool conveniently located at the bow of the ship for panoramic rainforest views.
Aqua Expeditions’ focus on sustainable tourism prevails in the construction and design of Aqua Nera with the use of efficient energy sources and recyclable innovative materials across the vessel.
Responsible operations, wildlife conservation, and community engagement projects continue as the company’s key drivers of sustainable development in travel, prioritising the social and environmental impacts of operating in a culturally-rich and pristine natural destination such as the Amazon.
A designated onboard Health and Safety Officer guaranteed the compliance of Aqua Expeditions’ stringent health and safety protocols throughout the journey. All crew members were COVID-19 tested for several days leading up to embarkation, as well as guests, who were required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result issued within 72 hours of the departure. Aqua Expeditions was also able to facilitate onboard pre-departure Antigen testing for departing guests with results made available onboard within minutes. These protocols will continue as an important part of Aqua Expeditions’ dedication to providing guests with the ultimate experience in safety and comfort.
Rates on Aqua Nera start from US$4,125 per person, including all meals and beverages (non- alcoholic, premium wines, and national beer), all excursions, transfers to/from vessel on recommended flights, laundry service, and Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve entrance fee.
Aqua Nera is also available for private hire, starting from US$153,000 for 40 guests.