Some of the best travel destinations aren't overly fancy: They're chic spots that immerse you in a new environment, show you a different point of view, and facilitate connection with the natural surroundings. Indeed, our favorite places are about taking in the view—and maybe bringing home a smart decorating idea or two.[image id='f75d089a-d7f5-44c8-a10d-b5b50adb1e18' mediaId='524d7004-a974-4421-a965-b9a6aff44571' align='right' size='small' share='false' caption='' expand='' crop='original'][/image]
One of the most unique ways to experience a new locale? By weaving through its backwaters on a boat. And if you're someone who hates the idea of being stuck on a boat, hear me out—Aqua Expeditions is a boutique cruise company (yes, there is such a thing) that's so thoughtfully designed that you won't feel like the walls are closing in on you. I chatted with the founder and CEO, Francesco Galli Zugaro, to learn about the design philosophy that enhances their one-of-a-kind journeys even more.[image id='0b2359b8-b8c3-4353-a4f6-bfb425c14a28' mediaId='ed511502-a912-4d03-952b-4b3b351d8450' align='left' size='large' share='true' caption='' expand='' crop='4x6'][/image]
The Ships Are Designed with the Destination in Mind.
Depending on the location, the vessels vary in size. The Aqua Mekong is 205 feet long and has three decks, so it could've been really imposing. But "instead of standing out, our desire was to blend in and in doing so, be very mindful of our surroundings and its history," says Zugaro. That's also why the team chose to work with renowned Saigon-based architecture firm Noor Design to build the Aqua Mekong and Peruvian architect Jordi Puig for the Aria Amazon. The result is something stylish and understated that also complements the beautiful Mekong and Amazon landscapes, allowing them to exude a distinctive sense of place.[image id='6e541d09-9a16-4298-98a1-18ecfb4591f9' mediaId='8f8f0b01-a614-46b5-a7ab-1f6581fc7fa7' align='right' size='large' share='false' caption='' expand='' crop='4x6'][/image]
Aboard each ship, passengers will find subtle nature-inspired design motifs and sustainably sourced materials from local producers in the surrounding region. And many of the decorative accents are hand-picked by Zugaro and his wife. "Supporting quality local craftsmanship is one of the meaningful ways we connect with the local communities and build goodwill, which directly adds to the guest experience when they visit these communities who recognize us for our positive support," he tells us.
Incorporating these locally sourced elements into the onboard design provides an organic continuity "throughout the guests’ journey and is important for a truly immersive cultural experience from start to finish," adds Zugaro. Ahead, learn about the travel itineraries and backdrops that inspired the design.
There Are Three Expeditions You Can Choose From.
The Aqua Mekong Travel Experience
While aboard the Aqua Mekong, you'll experience the enchanting backwaters of the Cambodian and Vietnamese Mekong River in style. Every day, you'll hop from ship to speedboat to embark on your journey ashore. You can arrange to visit Angkor Wat temple, UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as other gold-capped temples, explore local floating villages in Tonle Sap, and learn traditional crafts and skills like weaving and pottery. And the trip is really curated by you, as you're able to choose between more active and laidback activities. And those are just some of the highlights. You'll embark from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and finish the trip in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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The Aria Amazon Travel Experience
Journey into the world's largest rainforest along Peru's Amazon River, the world's largest and most biodiverse rainforest, on a stylish and eco-friendly sixteen suite vessel. It's the perfect vacation for animal and nature lovers and adventure seekers who also appreciate world-class dining, comfort, and luxury. You'll get to go deep inside the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, where you'll discover hidden lakes and lagoons, trek jungle trails, go piranha fishing, and spot the lights of toucans and macaws.[gallery id='2ef14a4c-d958-4e02-96b0-d8c6a79773d8' mediaId='' display='slider' align='center' size='medium' share='true' expand='' captions='true' suppress-title='false'][/gallery]
The Aqua Blu Travel Experience
Aqua Expeditions is launching their fifteen suite sea cruise ship in the East Indonesian Archipelago on November 16, 2019, offering several different itineraries and destination options. You can choose between a trip from Bali to Komodo National Park, the Ambon and Spice Islands, and Raja Ampat. At each, you'll get to experience some of the best snorkeling and diving expeditions in the world, witness prehistoric creatures (like the Komodo Dragon), swim under picturesque waterfalls, lounge on private beaches, and see the meeting point of the Indian and Pacific Ocean.[gallery id='57cafd12-6ce4-439e-9f8f-98b2a730c265' mediaId='' display='slider' align='center' size='medium' share='true' expand='' captions='true' suppress-title='false'][/gallery]
Now all that's left to do is turn off your Out of Office message and pack your bags.[gallery id='03939c9e-08b0-4fc8-a2ad-1db219793848' mediaId='' display='list' align='center' size='medium' share='true' expand='' captions='true' suppress-title='true'][/gallery]
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