NEW YORK - Aqua Expeditions, has announced the expansion of its fleet of luxury boutique vessels with the introduction of Aqua Mare, the first true superyacht to sail the Galapagos Islands. Launching its inaugural expedition on May 6, 2022, the seven-suite Aqua Mare will offer a choice of two highly personalized seven-night itineraries exploring the Archipelago's eastern and western regions, as well as two 14-night voyages for the Galapagos Islands’ ultimate bucket-list adventure.
The choice of the Galapagos Islands as the destination for Aqua Expeditions’ fifth vessel holds special significance as it is where the company’s CEO and Founder, Francesco Galli Zugaro, began his professional career in luxury travel. This is also the place that inspired him and co-founder Fred Brown to launch their own brand of immersive small-ship expeditions on the Peruvian Amazon River.
“Ever since I left Ecuador in 2006 with the clarity to build my own business, I have wanted to return to the Galapagos Islands with our very own luxury expedition ship. It has been 15 years since we ventured to Peru as a family and then onward to Asia to finally come full circle back to where it all started in the iconic destination that is the Enchanted Islands,” adds Galli Zugaro.
Designed and built by the world-renowned Italian CRN yard with custom interiors by François Zuretti, Aqua Mare accommodates a total of 16 guests in seven individually designed suites. The 861-square-foot Owner’s Suite is the largest suite in the Galapagos Islands with a 215-square-foot bathroom. The other remaining suites are no less than 215 square feet each, showcasing the attention to detail of passionate Italian craftsmanship, design, and décor. The vessel's interior decor includes Bali-sourced plateware custom-made for Aqua and 17th-century prints featuring local wildlife, all curated by Aqua Expeditions’ Director Birgit Galli Zugaro.
At 164 feet and 640 gross tons, Aqua Mare is one-of-a-kind, boasting 30 percent more indoor volume than most yachts in its size class. Spread over four decks featuring shaded and open sun decks, a six-person jacuzzi, outdoor barbecue area and an early-morning workout zone, it is the perfect base from which to explore the marine and land-based wildlife for which the Archipelago is famous.
The entire ship is lined with Italian veneer walls and plenty of indoor and outdoor dining venues to provide multiple settings for either private meals or group celebrations of sixteen. A highlight of the superyacht is its unique 'Beach Club' located at the aft of the lower deck, complete with a hydraulic opening panoramic beam-to-beam window – a first for the Galapagos Islands.
Sixteen crew, including two naturalist guides, ensure a world-class five-star experience that is second to none in the Archipelago. Exclusivity is combined with exceptional service enabled by a one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio, the islands’ most personalized ratio.
Two custom-made military-grade black rib tenders with central steering consoles ensure its twice-daily expeditions are a true adventure. Led by two world-class naturalist guides, each group is capped at only eight guests – another way Aqua Expeditions ensures only the best for their guests. Aqua Mare is also equipped with double kayaks, paddle boards and snorkeling gear, enhancing the immersive explorations on each of the islands’ visitor sites.
Award-winning Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino - the long-time culinary mastermind behind the Amazonia-inspired menus of Aria Amazon and Aqua Nera - is once again partnering with Aqua Expeditions as Consulting Chef for Aqua Mare. Taking inspiration from the Coast to the Pacific, Chef Schiaffino will deliver a Peruvian Japanese Nikkei-inspired menu consisting of only the freshest sustainable ingredients sourced from local suppliers all the way to the Andes of Ecuador. Highlights to look forward to do include Galapagueña lobster lettuce wraps with Acevichado dressing, delicate potato llapingachos, tuna crudo, barbecued plantains, and shrimp ceviche.
The highly anticipated expansion of Aqua Expeditions into the Galapagos Islands is a story come full circle not only in relation to the company’s origin but also binding together two of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, the Galapagos Islands and East Indonesian Archipelagos; both sites of inspiration for one of science’s greatest breakthroughs.
“It’s Darwin’s legacy that really gives meaning to my vision of 15 years ago. Today, who would have guessed that we would be bridging the gap between the Galapagos Islands and Indonesia’s Coral Triangle, where Aqua Mare’s bigger sister yacht Aqua Blu navigates and where another British naturalist and explorer, Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discovered the theory of evolution and natural selection,” remarked Galli Zugaro.
Together with this summer’s recent launch of Aqua Nera on the Peruvian Amazon, the announcement of Aqua Mare is a testament to the company’s steadfast commitment to the experiential travel niche; and a yet another confirmation that its acclaimed small-ship expeditions in remote wildlife- and nature-focused destinations are poised for a strong comeback.