Design and Architecture
Designed by Saigon-based architectural firm Noor Design, the Aqua Mekong is the first five-star small luxury cruise ship to travel up and down the Mekong River between the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Aqua Mekong is also the first cruise ship on Southeast Asia’s greatest river to offer a fitness center, library, screening room and observation deck.
Measuring 62.4 meters (205 feet) in length, the matte-black hulled Aqua Mekong brings Hodkinson’s Indochine influenced aesthetic to the Aqua Mekong’s interiors which are built entirely of local sustainable materials and incorporating natural fibers of the surrounding environment with artisanal touches of the Mekong’s multifaceted cultures.
Across the first and second decks, the Aqua Mekong is home to 20 Design Suites, each one a generous 30 square meters (320 square feet). Floor to ceiling windows allow guests to gaze upon the Mekong from the pillow top bed and a Mekong River facing day bed, placed indoors, or outside among the ten Design Suites with a private balcony.
This understated elegance, realized in the most modern, natural materials continues in the ship’s social areas. In the sun lit dining room, fresh tropical flowers add a subtle pop of color against the polished wood floors and natural woven fibers. Here as well, the Mekong influenced cuisine of our Michelin starred Executive Chef David Thompson of Bangkok’s Nam restaurant is served on fine china with our sommelier selected wines in crystal glassware.
Upstairs on the Observation Deck, slide onto sleek contemporary interpretations of this region’s woven cane planters chairs, found in the air conditioned Indoor Lounge alongside plump couches finished in a cool grey so as not to distract from the engrossing panorama constantly streaming in through floor to high ceiling walls of windows. Tropical wind and fresh air on the Outdoor Lounge encourage unwinding on cushioned loungers or easing into the river facing plunge pool. This shimmering oasis takes the edge off that equatorial swelter after an Aqua Expeditions excursion shopping for ingredients with our chef in Cambodia’s wet markets, watching traditional silversmiths at work, or among snakes and crocodiles at a Vietnamese riverside farm.
For Aqua Expeditions founder Francesco Galli Zugaro, the ultimate river safari includes the best creatures comforts on board as well as unparalleled experiences with local experts in small groups exploring a destination. True to that vision are the 20 air conditioned Design Suites of the Aqua Mekong, each one a generous 30 square meters (320 square feet), eight with balconies and all created entirely of local materials with the relaxed sophistication and contemporary comforts of a five star resort.
Floor to ceiling panoramic windows allow guests to gaze upon the Mekong from the pillow top California king size bed that can be converted upon request into two full twin beds. More captivating views await on the plush, roomy daybed placed by the window wall or for our eight balcony accommodations, outside along with a romantic table for two. Those who wish to keep up on the world beyond these enthralling riverbanks will appreciate complementary high speed wireless internet.
Aqua Mekong Design Suite Bathroom - High ResolutionThe sleek bathroom features the latest eco-sensitive technology and an additional Mekong River facing picture window, plus dual sinks, a large walk in shower with rainforest showerhead and bench, professional hairdryer and natural bath amenities.
Four sets of interconnecting suites, with two sets on each deck offer convenience for traveling families. Or for the ultimate luxury, passengers may book these interconnecting accommodations, with one suite configured as a private living room, the other as a bedroom, and separate baths. The result is a private, 60 square meter (640 square foot) floating apartment on the Mekong River.
Sunlit indoors and out, the top level Observation Deck aboard the Aqua Mekong has been designed to seamlessly connect guests with the constantly shifting landscape of floating Vietnamese villages, French colonial church spires and gilded Buddhist stupas along this mighty river, always in the utmost comfort. Whether one chooses to relax on a modern planters chair in the air conditioned Indoor Lounge, go horizontal under the equatorial sun outside at the ship’s back end Outdoor Lounge area or cool off with a plunge in the shimmering pool at the bow side, the Observation Deck ensures that the river always remains in full view.
Many guests come aboard imagining their time will be spent between off shore excursions and the privacy of their spacious suite. In fact, most find their way several times a day to the social life of the Aqua Mekong’s top floor Observation Deck, to the fully stocked bar in the Indoor Lounge, the well edited selection of Indochine classics in the library and films in the private screening room. After dark, the action is up above, when Southeast Asia’s night sky fills with constellations and shooting stars.
Choose to relax at either the bow or the stern of the Aqua Mekong in the ship’s Outdoor Lounges located on the Observation Deck level. Both the bow and the stern lounges are outfitted with comfortable sun loungers and at the front, plenty of shade under a soaring canopy, plus a rooftop bar, fully stocked to mix any sip. Sip sundowners by the river-facing plunge pool or let its cool waters take the edge off the equatorial swelter after an Aqua Expedition’s excursion into the emerald flooded forest or among the colorful melee of floating markets.
Only the cuisine of a Michelin starred master like our Executive Chef David Thompson could match the stunning space created here by floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Mekong River that let in natural sunlight, palm fringed vistas and vibrant village life.
Designed to match and occasionally distract from the stunning surroundings, Thompson’s dishes incorporate the timeless flavors and ancient sustainable ingredients of the Mekong’s many cultures and fertile fields. Thompson built his reputation between Sydney, London and Bangkok on Southeast Asian recipes culled from historic sources, a delectable tradition he continues on board the Aqua Mekong, bringing together the finest recipes of Khmer and Vietnamese river cultures.
Subtly balancing this timeless scenery, the refined interior has been stylishly finished with contemporary Asian artifacts, fine china and crystal glassware. These design elements are matched here by attentive, personalized service from English speaking staff that quickly learns guest names and tastes, from Vietnamese sweet coffee in the morning to the evening’s fine imported wines.
Choose to make dinner a date night, or dine family style among friends old and new. Thompson’s menus are ever changing, designed to incorporate the day’s catch and the market’s freshest produce, be it smoked fish, tapioca and vegetable dumplings, Vietnamese catfish minced with shallots, chilies and Thai basil, grilled river prawns with peanut relish. Then finish with something considerably more decadent, like a luscious Vietnamese artisanal chocolate fondant.
Upstairs on the Observation Deck of the Aqua Mekong, settle into the sleek contemporary chairs modeled after southeast Asian colonial planters in the ship’s air conditioned Indoor Lounge. Sink into a plump couch angled to optimize the engrossing, ever-changing Vietnamese or Cambodian landscapes streaming in through the floor to ceiling wall of windows. At the back of the Lounge, order a fresh tropical fruit cocktail from the fully stocked bar, or choose an Angkor beer or fine European wine. Wherever one goes in this air conditioned refuge, the river follows, while sliding doors lead onto the Observation Deck and our Outdoor Lounge with its inviting plunge pool.
Guests gravitate to the Indoor Lounge in the mornings for cà phê đá, Vietnamese coffee poured over ice with sweet condensed milk, between excursions to swap travelers tales and for daily lectures from Aqua Expedition’s expert local guides. Learn about topics relevant to upcoming excursions, from the origins of Buddhism in Vietnam and Cambodia to the ecology of the great Ton Le Sap River, home year round to Brahminy kites, blue tailed bee eaters and pied kingfishers.
Private Screening Room
Enhance any Mekong River journey with classic films about this exotic region, like The Scent of Green Papaya, The Quiet American and Good Morning Vietnam. Our cruise director will be happy to organize a private screening for up to ten guests here on the Observation Deck, where guests will also gather for private lecture, videos and documentaries about the fascinating cultures to meet along this Mekong River journey.