M/Y Aqua Blue is an ultra Modern Expedition Luxury Yacht with a Naval Heritage

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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and my other related maritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any of the cruise companies nor any travel agency or cruise agencies, etc! The author has been in the Passenger Shipping and cruise industry since 1960 and although retired a long time ago, but I am delighted to share all my knowledge with those who love to take cruise vacation! Thus I continue to write on Cruise Companies and their Ships in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts for their pleasure, but more so to ensure that you, my wonderful reader will make the best-informed choice possible!

 

Photographs were provided by “Aqua Expeditions” - unless stated otherwise

 

The Aqua Expeditions Story:

Aqua Expeditions caters to modern-day adventurers who are seeking active exploration in destinations which are best discovered by a small luxury Expedition Yacht. Highly experiential in nature, every Aqua Expeditions voyage includes especially tailored activities with expert-guided small-group excursions that make each voyage unique. Newly arrived late in 2019 is the 5 Star Luxury Expedition Yacht “Aqua Blu”, which offers exceptional service with a one to one crew-to-guest ratio, and there is a focus on sustainability and conservation with a contemporary ship design. Also very important and vital to your vacation enjoyment is Aqua Expeditions renowned World-Class Cuisine experience created by their superb famous chefs.

Their River Ships:

Aqua Expeditions began operations with the launch of three highly specialised ultra luxury River Cruise Ships, the “Aqua Amazon” and the “Aria Amazon” launched in 2008; they were followed by the “Peruvian Amazon” in 2011, followed by an expansion in Southeast Asia, Cambodia and Vietnam with the arrival of the larger “Aqua Mekong” in 2014.

With the arrival of newer River & Ocean Ships, those shown in bold above & below are those that remain in service today

 

 

The Ultra Luxurious River Ships, Aria Amazon (2008) & Aqua Mekong (2014)

 

 

Above & below: The Aqua Mekong Indoor Lounge, below one of her Suites and the aft Pool

 

In 2019, Founder & CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro announced the continued global expansion of “Aqua Expeditions” with two brand new ships, as well as featuring Three New Destinations.

The fist ship was the outstanding “Aqua Blu”, the cruise line’s first-ever Luxury Oceangoing Exploration Yacht, which will explore new coastal destinations of East Indonesia, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of “Komodo National Park” from November 2019.

The 2019 Magnificent completely rebuilt 5 Star Luxury Expedition Yacht “Aqua Blu

The next brand new built River Cruise Ship for Aqua Expeditions the “Aqua Nera” and she will sail the Peruvian Amazon commencing (hopefully) in August 2020 with the goal of redefining the standards of Luxury River cruising on the Amazon River. She offers the ultimate of style and comforts one would expect from Aqua Expeditions, who has won countless Cruise, Tours and Travel awards to date!

The New Aqua Nera (2020)

A man of perfection, the Founder & CEO Mr. Francesco Galli Zugaro:

In the process of creation a cruise line that has become highly acclaimed in such a short time, takes someone very special. It is obvious that its founder Mr. Galli Zugaro cultivated a brand that exemplifies his attention to detail and desire to personalize an immersive luxury cruise experience by pairing iconic boutique five-star vessels with “soft adventures” led by highly-knowledgeable teams of full-time guides and crew.

His immaculate attention to detail, refined tastes and sense of adventure is reflected in every Aqua ship and Aqua Expeditions journey.

Aqua Expeditions ships have received a great deal of International Acclaim, including the Gold Award in the Architecture/New Build category in the 2015 “Asia Hotel Design Awards” for the Aqua Mekong. Many VIP guests to have cruised on one or two of the Aqua vessel’s, including leading travel journalists, and have received awards from “Travel + Leisure”, “Virutuaose”, “Financial Times”, “Conde Nast Traveller”, “Forbes and Robb Report”, also Aqua Expeditions Won Two 2016 “Luxperience” - from the Sydney Australia “Travel Trade Awards”.

“Virutuaose” Luxury Travel Award 2014

 

 

“Travel Leisure Award” 2015 & Condé Nast - Travellers Readers Award” 2016

Here are several Reviews …

1. Aqua Blu voyage

“All I can say is this, to sail on an Aqua Blu voyage; you can believe me you will experience a cruise adventure of the Indonesian Islands that will be unlike any you will have ever experienced. It is a delight beyond any other”. V; 2019.

2. Aqua Mekong voyages

“What an amazing experience, mere words cannot describe how perfect this Mekong experience is and how seamless you make it for us. The service level is off the charts, the ship is magnificent and the added space is so impressive, the food, the shore excursions so very interesting and varied. It is a wow factor beyond words”. Susan, September 2015.

Cambodia was fantastic and I had such an amazing time on the Aqua trip, Thank you SO much for your help. The best thing by far about the Aqua Mekong cruise was the staff on the boat (and the guides who took us on excursions off it). They were so attentive, friendly and welcoming; it really made the whole experience amazing. The food was absolutely INCREDIBLE too. Seriously, some of the best I’ve ever had. I literally looked forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. The boat itself was really nice, too. It’s amazing that the suites were so luxurious and my favorite thing to do was open the window, lie on my day-bed and watch the Mekong go by. I loved it. I would absolutely recommend Aqua Expeditions to anyone looking to explore Cambodia in a different way”. Lizzie, May 2017

M/Y Aqua Blu:

Aqua Blu has been without a doubt the renowned Boutique Cruising Specialists since 2008 when “Aqua Expeditions” made its first foray into Indonesian waters.

As built the Aqua Blu has inherited a grand legacy as in a former life she was a British Naval Explorer, having been built as a Navy ship in England in 1968 named HMS Beagle (A319). Considering, she had a ship's company of 45 Royal Naval personnel she was classed as a Warship, thus she came under the official White Ensign! In addition was also designed to be able to sail the globe, having a strong hull, and being an extremely well built ship!

HMS Beagle is seen in Valletta Malta in September, 2001

Please Note: As built she had a flat, or a vertical stern

Photograph by & © Captain Lawrence Dalli

From a War Ship to Luxury Private Yacht:

In 2002 the Beagle was retired and was sold in March and she was completely converted into a private Super Yacht for a European Aristocratic Family.

However early in 2019 this fine Yacht was obtained and given an amazing refurbishment which was undertaken by Dutch Yacht Design Maestro Cor D. Rover who transformed the her into a total world-class cruising specifications cruising yacht, She had substantial hull transformations which saw the lengthening of her stern, as she was given an extensive almost water level teak platform for guests to board tenders, as well to enjoy water activities.

But most importantly upon completion she has met all her International Safety Regulations, such as being; ISM Compliant, as well as being in RINA Class and SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) Certified.

Her Guests can expect to embrace a distinguished sense of history, safety and seafaring evolution when they set foot on this one-of-a-kind Luxury Expedition Super Yacht.

M/Y Aqua Blue is seen from the air with a clear view of her all new extended aft boarding platform

Inside the five-deck the Aqua Blu you will discover that Cor D. Rover has tastefully paired her history with the modern, thus you will find a glamorous brass-and-ivory interior theme with a generous and an inviting indoor and outdoor social spaces, including a spacious sun deck.

Aqua Blu’s range stands heads and shoulders above that of its peers in Indonesia. She is able to cover vast distances in a short span of time, and do so in any sea condition. She enables explorers on board to experience the most varied, enjoyable and rewarding coastal cruise itineraries in this wild and stunningly beautiful region of the world.

The Aqua Blu will cruise on the Western Indonesian Coast during the summer months, including Bali, Sumbawa and Komodo National Park, before heading east to Raja Ampat during the winter months, via the Alor Archipelago and the Spice Islands.

The Aqua Blu set sail on her inaugural (Maiden) Voyage on November 16, 2019, and those who where able to sail on her prior to the arrival of that horrid illness “Covid-19”, were absolutely delighted with everything about her, those delightful interiors, and her spacious accommodations, the “Die for Food”, and “… the itineraries ashore were absolute perfection, I will never forget it!” Itineraries will be covered below.

The Ships General Layout:

I will now cover the ships general layout, revealing the locations of her public venues and five decks, but I will cover her accommodations on Page Two, which will also feature her Deck Plan. She does have 15 fine Suites in three grades located over four Decks providing spacious and luxury accommodation for 30 guests.

Here we see a mid range, Cat II: Suite located on Main Deck having large windows

Aqua Blu’s interiors has been carefully and tastefully paired with fine brass-and-ivory interior themes, which combines well with the generous and inviting indoor and outdoor social spaces, including a Sun Deck with outdoor seating, lounge and barbecue. Bridge Deck offers a Jacuzzi, outdoor Lounge, Spa and Gym. Dine outside on the Forecastle Deck that also includes a Lounge and Bar as well as a Library and TV Room. Main Deck contains the Dining Room, the Salon and there is also a large outdoor deck aft with ample seating.

But let us now take a closer look, deck by deck!

Sun Deck:

The iconic Sun Deck on the Aqua Blu is the perfect setting for daytime barbeques, or sunset cocktails with canapés as well as evening get-togethers under the stars, as there as ample outdoor seating available.

A popular space day and at night, it perfect for star watching

Bridge Deck:

The Bridge Deck features amenities such as an outdoor Jacuzzi and large Lounge beds, as well as an indoor Spa and outdoor work out zone and the Gym.

 

Views of the Outdoor Gym, Aqua-Blu-aft-decks and the large Lounge beds

 

Looking down from Sun Deck

Forward on Bridge Deck there are two magnificent spacious Cat I; Suites, and all suites are shown and described on Page Two.

Forecastle Deck:

This is the ideal place for a retreat at any time of day, the Forecastle Deck features the Sky Lounge and Bar, ideal to relax with a cocktail or your drink of choice, as well as the Library and TV Room. Casual meals may be served in the spacious outdoor Al Fresco dining area located aft of the Sky Lounge.

Sky Lounge starboard side looking aft

 

Sky Lounge Bar with an Indonesian drink waiter, looking forward

 

Sky Lounge portside

 

Aft is the popular Al Fresco Dining Area and daytime gathering spot for a drink.

Forward on Forecastle Deck there are three fine Cat I; Suites.

Main Deck:

Main Deck welcomes the embarking Guests, and also features Aqua Blu’s fine Dining Room and her main Salon located directly aft. This is followed by a spacious deck for out door seating perfect for relaxing and, or activities.

The Dining Room

 

The Salon looking forward towards the Dining Room

Forward on Main Deck there are four excellent Cat II; Suites, and one twin bedded Cat III; Suite.

Lower Deck:

The Lower Deck has three Cat II, and two twin bedded Cat III; Suites.

Dining:

Central to each Aqua Blu cruise is the element of five-star dining with a menu created and overseen by a renowned chef who is supported by Consulting Chef Benjamin Cross, who is a renowned Australian culinary genius who will be orchestrating the menu for a uniquely Indonesian-inspired dining experience. Trained by Sydney’s best culinary talents, Cross has masterfully created over 100 recipes that showcase a journey of refined flavours drawn from the ancient Spice Route, relying on local ingredients such as nutmeg and cloves; as well as a variety of seafood’s like the giant Papuan prawns sourced from the Indonesian seas.

The Aqua Blu dining experience will additionally showcase the freshest, sustainably-sourced seafood that the pristine waters of east Indonesia has to offer. Guests can look forward to refined plated dishes as well as convivial communal barbecues and relaxed outdoor dining. Breakfast is served buffet style and offers items including granola, yogurt, fresh fruit and made-to-order eggs. Lunches are a mix of plated and buffet, while dinner is always a fully plated affair. Exquisite and scrumptious cuisine, set amidst dramatic coastal landscapes, being undoubtedly the highlight of all Aqua Blu’s itineraries.

For interest; Aqua Blu comes prepared with kayaks, paddleboards, snorkelling and diving gear. Enjoy complimentary internet and laundry service whilst aboard.

Great diving opportunities

Safety On Board:

2 x Zodiac 4.2m RIB rescue boats with Mariner 25 HP with state-of-the-art safety features include radio communications with separate battery pack, satellite phone, flares and signals, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in each cabin, automatic defibrillator on board.

Launch Boats for Shore Excursions:

2 x Alson Flash 750 powered Evinrude E tech 2 x 225 DHX. Each boat has a capacity of 16 passengers.

Unlocking access to the most intriguing destinations:

Faster, further, greater safety and comfort, Aqua Blu’s naval pedigree makes her the perfect ship to navigate East Indonesia’s seas, as she has attained the highest International Maritime Classifications such as; RINA, SOLAS, and ISM in safety, she is now also equipped with “Quantum Zero Speed” stabilizers for optimal comfort whilst the ship is at rest or while sailing.

Aqua Blu will primarily serve three destinations on 7-night coastal cruise itineraries:

A taste of one of Aqua Blu’s Indonesian Adventure Itineraries: Saturday Day I, AM board at Sorong Indonesia and have three meals on board and depart PM for Gam Island, where you will spend Day 2 as well as all the following locations during the voyage; Waisai & Kabui, Cape Kri & Arborek Island, Pulau Wayag, Aljui Bay & Pulau Pef, Dayang Island, late on Friday Day 7 having spent time at Birie Island around sunset Aqua Blu will head for Sorong, Indonesia for an overnight stay and guests will have breakfast on board on Day 8, before disembarking.

Raja Ampat: round voyages from December through to February, a total of 10 departures per year.

Bali-Komodo National Park: Bi-directional, from April to September, a total of 23 departures per year.

Ambon & Spice Islands: round voyages from October to November, a total of seven departures per year.

During the Spice Islands Voyage, you will also visit Fort Belgica being a 17th-Century fort located at the Banda Islands.

Fort Belgica on Banda Island

 

 

A performance at Fort Belgica, the Spice Islands

Itineraries open up the opportunity of exploring a multiple of destinations in East Indonesia on a single itinerary and discovering exotic locales such as The Forgotten Islands, for the Aqua Blu will also offer limited 12-night voyages, called “Limited Cross-Destination Voyages”, with a maximum of four departures per year, each sailing on a different route.

For Interest; Rates for 7 and 12-night Aqua Blu itineraries range from AU$10,793 to AU$23,631 per person in double occupancy.

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Below are all her official details and specifications:

Aqua Blu’s Details & Specifications:

Year Built:                         1968 as a British Naval survey vessel HMS Beagle (A319).

IMO number:                     4902921.

Call Sign:                          IIJY2.

Built by:                            Brooke Marine, Lowestoft, England.

Launched:                         September 7, 1967.

Commissioned:                  May 9, 1968.

Decommissioned:               February 7, 2002.

Sold & Converted:              March 2002 into a private luxury Yacht.

Sold:                                2018.

Year Refurbished:               Fully refurbished into a luxury Ocean Expedition Yacht in 2019.

Inaugural Voyage:              November 16, 2019.

Cabins:                             15 Suites over 4 decks in 3 different Suite categories.

Guests:                             30.

Ports of Embarkation:         Bali, Labuan Bajo, Maumere, Ambon, Sorong.

Crew:                               25, Cruise Director, Dive Instructor, Paramedic and English-speaking Guides.

Vessel’s Registry:               Indonesia.

Type of Vessel:                  Ocean-Going Expedition Yacht.

Length:                             198.2 ft - 60.4 m.

Beam:                               37.09 ft - 11.5 m.

Draft:                               13.9 ft - 4.2 m.

Tonnage:                          1,140 GRT (Gross Registered Tons).

Engines:                           Four Lister Blackstone ER58M 8-cylinder diesel engines, 2,640 BHP.

Propellers:                         Twin screws, variable pitch propellers.

Cruising Speed:                 10 Knots cruising speed, maximum speed 15 Knots.

Generators:                       2 x Volvo Penta 225kW, 1 x Volvo Penta 80kW (backup).

Electricity:                         220V and 110V.

Stabilizers:                        Quantum Zero Speed.

Safety:                              ISM Compliant, RINA Class and SOLAS Certified.

 

The magnificent 5 Star Luxury Yacht Aqua Blu

Join her, late in 2020, or 2021 when Covid-19 has finally ended

 

 Watch two short Video’s produced by Aqua Expeditions re their new Aqua Blu

Video One & Video Two

A 1.55 minute video & A 2.30 minute video

 

Visit Page Two for Deck Plan & Accommodations

 

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Please Note: Cruise-Australia and its associated pages are 100% non-commercial and privately owned cruise sites and are NOT associated with any cruise company or travel agency! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry and cruise companies over 60 years but is long retired, but continues cruise at least three time a year and write cruise and ship reviews and articles when able, in order to better to inform cruise and ship enthusiasts and provide information for those intending a cruise in the near future.

Although 2020 has been a tragic year for the entire world especially the Cruise Industry, and all who love cruising, but I pray that it will soon pass and we will soon be able to return to the ships we love to sail on! But in the meantime, please stay Safe and Healthy!

Reuben Goossens.

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