By Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor
Purpose-built in 2007 by renowned Peruvian architect Jordi Puig, Aqua Expeditions' M/V Aqua's profile resembles a classy, river-going home (designed with the latest in green technology and sustainable materials) more than an expedition vessel. Slate, Peruvian ironwoods, reclaimed metals and huge picture windows are visible to the outside observer. Interiors follow the same trend with the addition of linens made of fine Peruvian cotton, works by local artisans and technologies designed to make as little impact on the environment as possible.
Weighing in at 400 tons, the 130-foot-long M/V Aqua is designed to transport 24 passengers and 17 crew, including a cruise director and three English-speaking guides. The twelve passenger suites average 230 square feet (Four "master" suites are 240 square feet, face forward and have panoramic windows at the foot of each king-sized bed.) Each cabin has a separate sitting area, an in-suite bath with a large shower, individual air-conditioning and oversized panoramic windows.
Public rooms include an indoor lounge (also air-conditioned), an outdoor lounge, an observation deck and a dining room. The indoor lounge serves as a library and media room with a flat-screen television for DVD's provided by Aqua Expeditions. (Passengers can also bring their own DVD's and, in fact, can borrow small DVD players and movies for in-suite use.) Outside, chairs and loungers are provided for relaxation as the ship wends its way through two Peruvian tributaries of the Amazon (the Ucayali and the Maranon), as well as on the Amazon river itself.
With advance notice, M/V Aqua can accommodate dietary restrictions; otherwise, meals are single-seating affairs in a dining room surrounded with observation windows. Passengers have the option of dining with others or, if preferred, alone or in tandem; there are plenty of two-top tables that can also be configured for larger parties. Three meals are included, and "house wines" accompany supper. Juice, coffee, soft drinks and water are provided as part of the fare; bar drinks and wines from the extensive international list are not. Snacks, too, are provided during the day and in the evenings in the lounge.