MSC Group unveils new luxury cruise brand

The MSC Group has named its new luxury cruise brand – Explora Journeys – as it revealed early details about the ships’ onboard features and maiden programme ahead of the four-ship fleet’s 2023 launch.

The first of four vessels, Explora I, will arrive in two years’ time with the remaining ships due to enter service in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

A steel cutting ceremony for 248-metre Explora I was held on Thursday morning in Monfalcone, Italy, and was attended by Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Group’s executive chairman, and Explora Journeys’ chief executive Michael Ungerer.

MSC said 14-deck vessel Explora I will have 461 ocean-facing suites and residencies with floor to ceiling windows and a terrace area.

Suites will begin at 35 square metres, compared with interior suites in MSC Yacht Club, MSC Cruises’ current ship-within-a-ship luxury concept, which start at around 21 square metres.

Outdoor decks on Explora I will feature 64 private cabanas across three outdoor pools and a fourth pool will have a retractable glass roof.

Indoor pool, Explora I, June 2021

Rendering of indoor pool on Explora I

Several indoor and outdoor bars, lounges and spas will also be available on board.

Flexible dining times will be available across nine restaurants and there will be a guest to crew ratio of 1.25 to 1.

Initially, Explora I’s sailings will be at least seven nights long and Saint-Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik will be included in Explora I’s debut programme.

Calls to Kastellorizo, Greece; Bozcaada, Turkey; and Norway’s Lofoten Islands will also feature in the maiden programme. Explora Journey’s inaugural programme will go on sale in autumn this year.

Lobby, Explora I, June 2021

Rendering of lobby area on Explora I

MSC championed its new luxury brand’s environmental credentials.

The line said Explora Journeys vessels will not emit CO2 while at berth and will be powered by marine gas oil which burns less CO2 per ton compared to heavier bunker fuel.

Each ship will be fitted with battery storage and the latest selective catalytic reduction technology, which MSC said means nitrogen oxide emissions will be reduced by 90%.

All four ships, built by Fincantieri, will be certified for operating with reduced underwater noise. Single-use plastics will not be used on board and will not be offered to passenger during the line’s land-based experiences.

Vago said: “Building a luxury brand that will redefine the cruise experience and create a category of its own has been a long-held vision of mine and my family.

“Inspired by our personal travel wishes, Explora Journeys will be an ocean escape like no other, allowing guests to relax, make memories, and cherish the time at sea with their loved ones. After all, time is the ultimate luxury.”

Ungerer added: “Explora Journeys was designed for guests who want to stay longer, leave later, and travel deeper.

“Customer centricity is at the core of everything we do. We’ve commissioned research, organised focus groups, and hosted roundtable discussions with global specialists in luxury to design the perfect ship for our guests.

“Explora Journeys will bring a new perspective to the travel industry, reinventing the classic cruise experience for the next generation of luxury travellers.”

Alexa Aponte-Vago, the group’s chief financial officer and Vago’s wife, designed the Explora Journeys logo.

More: MSC unveils luxury brand’s senior management team

Cruise veteran to head new MSC luxury arm

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