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Life onboard the small-ship luxury cruise line gets even more rewarding on these exclusive themed departures.

Since its launch in 2007, Aqua Expeditions has won over cruisers and non-cruisers alike with hotel-level services, gourmet food, and intimate accommodations on its 16-suite Aria Amazon and 20-suite Aqua Mekong. Immersive experiences have also become a calling card, with choices like biking through scenic landscapes and chef-led market visits.

Now Aqua is setting the bar higher with a series of themed departures that grant guests up-close insight from—and access to—notable experts in the fields of conservation, wellness, food and wine, photography, and entrepreneurship. Here’s a closer look at five VIP hosts headlining upcoming Aqua cruises and how they’re enriching the journey.

 

Sail with… Jean-Michael Cousteau, Explorer, Environmentalist, Film Producer
For more than 80 years, the name Cousteau has been synonymous with the wonders of the marine world—and with a passion for protecting them. Jean-Michel Cousteau, the eldest son of Jacques Cousteau, serves as founder and president of Ocean Futures Society, a non-profit marine conservation and education organization that helps foster the relationship between people and the sea.

Travelers will be able to experience the mighty Amazon and Mekong Rivers from the perspective of this renowned conservationist on four Aqua departures through 2018. Learn about the challenges faced in preserving wildlife habitats, delicate ecosystems, and evolving cultural traditions; enjoy screenings of some of Cousteau’s award-winning films; and get tips from him on making your own storytelling video. You’ll also get to interact with Cousteau on board, and during a biking or kayaking excursion. Get the details here; rates start at $4,350 per person.

 

Sail with… Alex Salihin, Level Fitness Owner, Brand Ambassador for Lululemon
Drawing upon his experience in the Singapore Armed Forces, and his years crafting and leading fitness and personal coaching programs in Seattle, Alex Salihin launched Level Fitness in Singapore in 2014. The innovative studio takes a personalized approach to fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and wellness, and works with some of the best personal trainers, yoga teachers, and rehab practitioners in Southeast Asia. Salihin is also an ambassador for the athletic brand Lululemon.

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Aqua Mekong sailings hosted by Salihin let you balance all indulgences with fun and targeted wellness activities. Start the day with a yoga session on the sundeck, backed by views of the Mekong countryside, then take a dip in the front-facing outdoor plunge pool, or a personalized workout with Salihin, before winding down with an evening group meditation session. Custom nutrition and workout tips, biking and kayaking excursions, Asian-inspired massages, and fresh local fare round out the experience—and will have you retuning home refreshed and reinvigorated. Get the details here; rates start at $5,140 per person.

 

 

Sail with… Aqua Expeditions’ Executive Chefs Pedro Miguel Schiaffino and David Thompson

Kick your culinary skills up a notch on a sailing hosted by one of Aqua Expeditions’ expert executive chefs. Described as one of the most innovative young talents in Latin America, Aqua Amazon’s Pedro Miguel Schiaffino is deeply passionate about raising the profile of Amazonian cuisine around the world. Meanwhile, Aqua Mekong consulting chef David Thompson—winner of the 2016 Diner Club International’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Asia—is a champion of, and ambassador for, authentic Thai cuisine.

On these sailings, guests will discover the distinctive flavors of each destination, and acquire cooking skills they can put to use back home. Visit local markets with the chef to learn about regionally grown and harvested ingredients, then put the purchases to use in a chef-led Master cooking class, where you’ll get tips on recipe planning, preparation, and execution. And during the whole sailing, you’ll savor the signature cuisine and fine wines that are part of every Aqua experience. Get the details here; rates start at $3,780 per person.

 

Sail with… Francisco Marin, Photographer, Videographer, Instructor at Leica Akademie
A native of Mexico, professional photographer Francisco Marin has been practicing his craft all over Asia for the past decade. The visually creative artist specializes in capturing architectural and interior design details, making him a favorite with both corporate and editorial clients.

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On his hosted Mekong River journeys, Marin will help you sharpen your skills during guided excursions. As you watch local artisans working on their crafts, tour frozen-in-time floating villages, and bike or kayak through the countryside, Marin will offer tips and techniques for finding the best angles and lighting, capturing the action, and more. Plus, you’ll take home a digital album full of memories, specially made by Marin for each sailing. Get the details here; rates start at $5,140 per person.

 

Sail with… Francesco Galli Zugaro, Founder and CEO, Aqua Expeditions
Here’s a rare opportunity to travel with one of the industry’s innovators, Francesco Galli Zugaro. He founded Aqua 10 years ago after working for a leading Galapagos cruise company. A noted adventurer (he’s been on nine safaris), Galli Zugaro regularly shares his insights on entrepreneurship and travel trends at leadership meetings around the globe.

On these hosted itineraries, you’ll have the chance to join Aqua’s passionate founder on a bike ride through the lush Mekong riverside landscapes, visiting traditional villages and hidden-away cultural sites; or on a kayaking adventure through gentle pockets of the Amazon, taking in the wealth of flora and wildlife. During informative talks, interactive Q&As, and casual receptions, you’ll learn about the challenges involved in growing a start-up cruise line into an industry standard-bearer, and hear insider details about the world of travel. Get the details here; rates start at $4,860 per person.