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Virtuoso accepts MSC's Explora Journeys into Preview program

Explora I's indoor pool
MSC Group's new luxury brand Explora Journeys has been accepted into Virtuoso's portfolio as the first cruise line in its Preview program.

As part of Preview, Explora Journeys is partnering with the luxury travel network and its advisors during the launch phase to receive guidance and a head start on bookings.

Virtuoso agencies worldwide sell an average of $25bn to $30bn annually, making it the most significant player in luxury travel.

Explora Journeys plans to introduce Explora I, the first of four new ships in 2023.

Responsible tourism, innovative compensation model

'We are excited to name Explora Journeys as our first Preview cruise line,' Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch said. 'What Explora is doing in terms of responsible tourism aligns with our own ethos of travel as a force for good. And, coming out of the gate with such an innovative compensation model shows their strong support of travel advisors. Welcoming Explora into the Virtuoso network prior to their first ship launching is a testament to our faith in this company, their leadership and their product.'

Explora Journeys’ acceptance into Virtuoso gives it a direct relationship with many leading leisure travel agencies around the world. 

'We are immensely honored and excited about the opportunity to partner with Virtuoso, which is a testament to our commercial strategy,' Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer said. 'Building a brand that will redefine the cruise experience has been a long-held dream of our Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, his wife Alexa and the Aponte family ... Through a significant investment in research, including luxury round tables, surveys and focus groups, we have created a customer-centric brand that will exceed the expectations of discerning luxury travelers looking for sustainable and responsible travel.'

Travel advisors 'at the core of everything we do'

'The travel advisor community has been at the core of everything we do, and they remain a vital part of our future,' added Chris Austin, chief sales officer, Explora Journeys. 'Our relationship with Virtuoso is based on long-held respect and commitment, and our new partnership provides all global Virtuoso member agencies with a compelling new brand, stunning ships and guest experience designed with purpose, and a portfolio of commercial policies to ensure doing business with us is joyful.'

'By Appointment Service' 

This commitment to the travel advisor community is evident in Explora Journeys’ 'By Appointment Service,' which allows advisors the exclusive ability to wait-list a suite, with no obligation, for any of the line’s inaugural collection journeys.

No NCFs, commission for optional add-ons

'This service adds value for travel advisors, as they can take our new brand story to their clients and place a waitlist request, prior to our public open for sale later this fall,' Austin said. In addition to generous commissions, no NCFs, commission paid on optional add-ons and easy move-and-change policies, travel advisors will have access to a robust experience center that delivers e-learning and performance and marketing suites.

'We look forward to partnering with Explora to help establish a solid customer base prior to their inaugural sailing and are pleased to work with them through this crucial launch period,' said Virtuoso's Beth Butzlaff, VP global partner relations.