//Aqua Expeditions reveals major expansion plans

Aqua Expeditions reveals major expansion plans

Boutique river cruise company Aqua Expeditions embarks on the biggest expansion since its launch 11 years ago, adding more vessels on the Amazon and Mekong

Boutique river cruise company Aqua Expeditions is stepping up its UK marketing efforts as it embarks on the biggest expansion since its launch 11 years ago.

Founder and chief executive Francesco Galli Zugaro confirmed that the upscale operator planned to add more vessels to its two-strong fleet, which currently comprises the Aria Amazon on the Peruvian Amazon and the Aqua Mekong, which sails on the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia.

Financing for the new 20-cabin vessels is still being negotiated, but he hoped this would be completed by the end of the year, with the new luxury river craft following in 2019/2020.

“We are not only looking at river cruising, but coastal cruising, too,” Zugaro confirmed.

The company is keen to build UK business through the trade, having appointed its first full-time UK sales manager, Katerina Gavrilova, last September. Gavrilova, who is based in London, also looks after the Russian market.

Aqua Expeditions will unveil an improved travel agent portal on its website at the end of July, giving agents more control over bookings from start to finish and allowing them to book larger numbers of passengers in one hit.

“This integrated agent portal will enable retailers to make bookings, check space, block it off for a week with no commitment and then confirm,” Zugaro explained. “Ninety days out, they can do online check-in and print off whatever they need.”

The UK is Aqua Expeditions’ third-largest market, along with Australia, with both accounting for 10 per cent of the company’s business. The two main markets – the US and Canada – account for around 50 per cent between them.