Being half Italian and half American and as a child growing up in Europe, the Middle East and South America, I have always been fascinated by travel. After graduating from college in Boston, I went to work in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Within this unique and untouched natural environment, I experienced the genuine joy bringing people from around the world into contact with thriving wildlife and ecosystems beyond human imagination.
Once I reached the level of Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a leading Galapagos cruise company, I began to explore Latin America to find an equally captivating, remote destination where I could offer another kind of once-in-a-lifetime travel experience with the highest levels of comfort. I found that elusive combination along the Peruvian stretch of the Amazon River, one of the world’s last great, unexplored regions. I left the Galapagos to launch my own company, Aqua Expeditions.
It was my dream to bring the adventure of a great African safari to the Amazon River, along with the highest standards for safety and with the most experienced naturalist guides. We launched the Aqua Amazon cruiseship in 2008 with just twelve luxurious cabins designed by Jordi Puig, one of Peru’s top interior designers and the Amazon- influenced cuisine of Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. My intention was then, and remains, to always ensure that Aqua Expeditions guests enjoy an “eye-level” and highly visual river cruise experience amidst the pleasures of a five-star boutique hotel.
Demand for Aqua Expedition’s Peruvian cruises almost immediately exceeded supply. And in 2011, Aqua Expeditions expanded our cruise capacity with the launch of our second cruiseship, the 16-cabin Aria Amazon to deliver the same exceptional guest journey in this fascinating year-round destination.
After the launch of the Aqua Aria, I set out in search of another great river for Aqua Expeditions. I traveled to Africa, India and China. Then I arrived in Vietnam and Cambodia and discovered the Mekong River. When I traveled the waters of the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia, I knew Aqua Expeditions could capture the imaginations of our well-traveled guests here just as we do in Amazonia.
Launched in 2014, the 20-suite Aqua Mekong allows our guests to experience, first-hand, the colorful and varied cultures, religions and timeless traditions that I have discovered along the Mekong. Traveling deep into its remote tributaries, our guests learn about the history and ecosystem of this vital Southeast Asian waterway. And I love being able to offer our guests on both ends of the Aqua Mekong cruise unique trips to other Vietnam and Cambodia points of interest including the beautiful temples of Angkor Wat which, for me, feels like Machu Picchu, but on the other side of the world.
Please join us and discover the magic of a luxury cruise on one of the world’s greatest rivers.
Francesco Galli Zugaro, Founder & CEO, Aqua Expeditions
Listen to James Shillinglaw from TravelPulse interview Francesco about the upcoming launch of the Aqua Mekong: