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Explora CEO Michael Ungerer gives thumbs up to hospitality brands entering cruise market

Article-Explora CEO Michael Ungerer gives thumbs up to hospitality brands entering cruise market

PHOTO: HOLLY PAYNE cruise_Michael_Ungerer.jpg
Explora CEO Michael Ungerer welcomes the arrival of hospitality brands to the cruise segment and hopes to see more of them
Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer is eager to see more luxury hospitality brands break into the cruise industry, is enthused by what the Middle East region has to offer and sees more opportunity ahead.

‘I would love it if more well-known hospitality brands entered into our business,’ the CEO told Seatrade Cruise News. ‘I really applaud Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons and Aman and Orient Express. It brings credibility and importance to the segment and enriches it.' 

The luxury cruise segment makes up just 3% of the entire luxury hospitality industry worldwide, according to Ungerer, which means possibilities for cruise lines could be significant.

‘When we first started out it was 800,000-900,000 people in the luxury cruise segment and 27-28 million people in the luxury hospitality segment,’ he explained. ‘The opportunity is huge. Especially for a product like ours, delivered with a European sense of luxury that is vibrant and cosmopolitan.’


The new line saw its highest booking figures in January with passengers divided 50/50 between the US and Europe since going to market in November.

‘The UK is a very important market next to Germany – the second most important after the US. It's been very encouraging. The more people we put into the markets, and the more markets we open, the better. It's very much driven by travel advisors,’ the CEO remarked.

Despite its original launch date being pushed back due to supply chain disruption, Ungerer is ‘confident’ Explora I will be ready to set sail on July 17 following its naming ceremony on July 8.

As for Explora II, it will begin sailing the Mediterranean next August, before setting course for the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. The ship will then head to India, the Indian Ocean and the coast of East Africa down to South Africa. Asked if Explora shared MSC Cruises' sentiments on the growing importance of the Middle East region to cruising, Ungerer responded, ‘Absolutely, they [destinations in the Middle East] are definitely underserved and there's no brand or product out there today that is an alternative for them.’


On the matter of conveying Explora’s sustainability credentials to prospective cruisers – including Explora III, -IV, -V and -VI being LNG-powered, with the latter two being LNG/hydrogen-powered – Ungerer believes the message resonates.

'What we've seen in our research is that the whole notion of mindfulness, mindful decision making, sustainability… plays a bigger and bigger role. If people have a choice between two identical products, and one is more sustainable than the other, then they're more inclined to buy the sustainable one.

‘When you have a shipowner family that has made a living off the sea for 300 years, you better have a long-term sustainable view or it's not going to work! That's really at the core - and what we do in terms of advancing that core to come up with new technologies and reinvesting… People understand that.'

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