Strictly speaking, Aqua Blu isn't a new ship; in fact she is the former British Royal Navy survey ship HMS Beagle, and has undergone a remarkable transformation into a luxurious superyacht, specifically designed for this fascinating part of the world. Making her debut later this year, Aqua Blu represents something of a departure for Aqua Expeditions, building on the success of their boutique river cruise ships on the Mekong and the Peruvian Amazon.
Aqua Blu will sail three different Indonesian routes: Bali to Komodo National Park, Ambon and the Spice Islands, and an itinerary focusing on the stunning Raja Ampat archipelago. On board you can expect stylish, individually designed suites, ample outdoor space including a sun deck with Jacuzzi, watersports equipment galore and Indonesian-inspired fine dining.
Aqua Expeditions isn't the first cruise line to recognise Indonesia's potential for island-hopping escapades. Australian outfit True North Adventure Cruises are best known for their expedition-style voyages along the Kimberley coast, but their eponymous 36-guest vessel also crosses the Coral Sea to Raja Ampat and West Papua, including a week-long itinerary focused on the amazing whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay.
The ultra-exclusive vessels of Aqua and True North come with a hefty price tag, but there are several slightly larger ships offering a more affordable way to visit Indonesia. Windstar's beautiful sail-assisted Wind Spirit, with a capacity of 148 guests, operates a handful of voyages in spring 2020. You'll visit islands ranging from laid-back Lombok to volcano-dotted Java, home to the breathtaking Borobudur temple complex, and enjoy a relaxed and easy-going style on board. Windstar's newly 'stretched' Star Breeze will also sail through the archipelago in March 2021, on a unique cruise visiting some of the home islands of the ship's Indonesian and Filipino crew.
If you like the idea of following the old spice routes on a tall ship, sails fluttering in the breeze, then you should definitely take a look at Star Clipper's round-trip itineraries out of Bali. This handsome four-masted vessel is a breathtaking sight in full sail, reminiscent of a bygone age, and her small size (170 guests) allows you to visit places like tiny Satonda and the idyllic Gili islands, as well as Komodo Island with its pink beaches and famous dragons. By the way, you may have heard that the Indonesian government is closing Komodo Island to tourists in 2020; details are still to be confirmed, but we expect the wider Komodo National Park (including other dragon-inhabited islands) to remain open - watch this space.
There are plenty of other cruise lines that visit Indonesia, usually en route from mainland Asia to Australia and the South Pacific. Silversea have options on both their classic and expedition ships, including Silver Cloud's April 2021 voyage from Singapore to Cochin, while Seabourn's 24-day Java Sea and the Coral Coast cruise combines the highlights of Indonesia with the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland coast.
Look out too for unusual expedition sailings on the much-anticipated Crystal Endeavor and SeaDream Innovation, in 2020 and 2022 respectively...