True to Aqua Expeditions’ philosophy of taking guests on unforgettable journeys to destinations that are off-the-beaten-track is Aqua Blu’s one-of-a-kind Ambon and Spice Islands itinerary in East Indonesia. A true historical gem thanks to the region’s past significance as the global center of the valuable spice trade, opportunities for adventure and discovery are more than meets the eye.
From the voyages of British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace to the discovery of endemic species and crumbling Dutch forts, you can now retrace the emblematic Spice Trade route at your own pace. Together with an expert team of naturalist guides to lead you, you’ll feel every bit an adventurer onboard a private yacht charter that started its life as a former British Naval Explorer.
Seven nights through the “Age of Discovery”
Your voyage will begin at Ambon, the bustling capital of the Maluku region also known as ‘Ambon Manise’, which means beautiful, or more literally, sweet Ambon. Rich in culture and nature, this is one of the locales biologist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace resided during his epic expedition which led to his own theory of evolution. Although contemporary to Charles Darwin’s concurrent theory, Wallace remains highly overlooked by history to this day. However, his eight-year scientific venture between 1854 to 1862 is immortalized in his book The Malay Archipelago, shining a light on the astounding diversity of animals, birds, and plant life that inhabit this region, including the legendary Birds of Paradise.
Now, more than 150 years later, guests onboard Aqua Blu will be able to explore Ambon, its villages and markets, and go on trekking and birdwatching excursions to see for themselves some of the protagonists of Wallace’s chronicles. Guests will also have the opportunity to dive in Laha Bay, a famous muck diving site to discover the enigmatic marine creatures found in this area such as pygmy seahorses.
One of Aqua Blu’s first excursions is on the island of Saparua, where guests will stop along the way at the coastal town of Hila to explore Fort Amsterdam, the first of colonial Dutch fortifications we will encounter throughout our voyage. You will also be able to stroll around Ouw village to witness traditional pottery-making, as well as become privy to the communities that live within the walls of its small fort, which has remained intact over the years.
The journey will then continue across the Banda Sea towards Banda Neira, for what will be one of the highlights of this journey. As we make our approach at dawn, two Kora-Kora war canoes will greet the ship in a spectacular display seen nowhere else in the world. There is very little quite as impressive as watching 80 men race across the bay, chanting in unison. This magical experience is one that has been retained over the centuries and is an authentic representation of the war rituals performed by the Banda islanders in years past, but also annually in modern competition.
Next, a visit to the majestic Fort Belgica, built in 1611 by the Dutch East India Company, will allow guests to delve into the history of the Moluccas, with expert guides weaving the tale of the Old World spice trade dominating the region during the 16th and 17th century. The fort’s prominent position at the top of a hill overlooking Neira’s Bay is the perfect setting to relax and enjoy sunset drinks with a special performance you will not want to miss.
To learn about the cultivation of a spice so valuable it shaped history in a lengthy and bloody conquest for its trade supremacy, our visit to Banda Neira will also include an exploration of one of the oldest nutmeg plantations in the world.
An incredible array of ‘wow’ moments will continue to present themselves in this journey including hiking the active volcano Gunung Banda Api, a visit to the remote village island of Pulau Run – once traded by the British for the island of Manhattan, as well as the forgotten islands of Nusa Laut and Molana, a picturesque paradise for both water- and land-based adventures.
Heritage and History Aboard a Former British Naval Explorer
A compelling maritime statement with a grand legacy as the former British Naval Explorer HMS Beagle, Aqua Blu is the perfect option to navigate East Indonesia’s vast seas in ultimate comfort, style, and safety.
This world-class superyacht features a maximum capacity of 30 guests and is available for private hire, which means you’ll get full access to 15-individually designed sea-facing suites, and generous indoor and outdoor spaces spread around five decks. Guests will be able to enjoy 360-degree views of picture-perfect landscapes, comfortable day beds, a jacuzzi, and spa to relax in between excursions, as well as golden cocktail hours at the elegant Sky Lounge Bar.
Aqua Blu is equipped with top-of-the-line non-motorized water sports equipment including kayaks and paddleboards, as well as diving and snorkeling gear. Two private speedboats with a capacity of 16 passengers each offer guests the flexibility to explore the deepest parts of each destination.
The dining program onboard is an immersive culinary voyage on its own, with a rendition of flavors that have traveled through Indonesia’s fabled sea spice trade route. With his farm-to-table philosophy, Aqua Blu’s renowned Consulting Chef Benjamin Cross -- a native Australian based in Bali -- has crafted an innovative menu that integrates exotic spices and fresh, sustainably sourced local produce.
With an unmatched level of personalized service enabled by a highly exclusive crew-to-guest ratio and our boutique size, a trip onboard Aqua Blu can be customized to cater to individual guests’ preferences. Whether it is adapting the menus to dietary requirements, or setting the scene for a special celebration, the amazing crew onboard Aqua Blu will be always prepared to deliver a tailor-made, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Rates for a 7-night private charter for up to 30 passengers start from US$264,000 and for 12-nights, US$407,000. For local Indonesian residents, we are offering exclusive 3- and 4-night private charters to Lombok Straits and Sumbawa for the months of August and September only. Please contact our reservations team for more information.