Construction of the 63,900gt vessel began in October 2021 at Fincantieri’s Castellammare di Stabia yard in Naples, where the keel subsequently was laid in May 2022. Explora II is scheduled to enter service in August 2024.
Coin placing ceremony
The time-honoured maritime ceremony saw commemorative coins placed inside the ship by the newbuild's godmothers, with Feliciana Maresca, executive assistant to Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer, representing the owners and Martina Mosca, supervisor of Fincantieri’s hull fabrication department, representing the builder.
The event was attended by key executives including Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, cruise division, MSC Group; Ungerer and Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO, Fincantieri.
‘We are really glad Explora II and sister ships Explora III and IV are being built here, giving honour to engineering talent, design and innovation that is second to none,’ said Vago. ‘I would talk “made in Genoa” more than “made in Italy.”’ He said the building of the Explora Journeys ships will bring the Ligurian economy €7b. Combined with Explora ships V and VI, MSC Group will bring €15b to Italy’s economy.
Folgiero described Explora II – the first of the Explora Journeys vessels to be built at the Sestri Ponente shipyard – as ‘state of the art' by way of its technology. ‘It is exciting to see the advancement of this construction. The Explora class is a concentration of high technology which, with the subsequent units, will reach even higher levels, following a precise planning towards the ship of tomorrow.’
Attendees additionally heard from Mayor of Genoa Marco Bucci, as he described the city's ‘bright future based on a blue economy.’
President of the Port System Authority of the Western Ligurian Sea, Paolo Emilio Signorini, described the importance of collaboration with Fincantieri and in particular the MSC Group, which he considered especially influential on 'industrial choices.' He said, ‘There are other operators but they are not so visible at an international level' and spoke of a shared vision for the future.
Explora I launching in July
Ungerer commented, ‘The event today is another major step forward on our mission to redefine ocean travel for today's discerning luxury travellers. Explora II and her sister ship Explora I, currently being build at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard, will blend renowned destinations seen through a different lens and unique off-the-beaten-path ports, offering the next generation of luxury travellers highly curated, transformative and immersive experiences.’
Explora I is planned to be officially named on July 8 in Civitavecchia before her inaugural North European sailing in mid-July 2023 from Southampton.
Between August 2024 and April 2025 Explora II will sail in the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean and Africa, calling at 82 ports in 26 countries.
€3.5b fleet investment
Up to more than €3.5b will be invested by MSC in Explora Journeys’ six ships with Explora III planned to join the fleet in 2026, and Explora IV in 2027. If the options are confirmed, Explora V and Explora VI will join in 2027 and 2028.
Explora III, IV, V and VI will be powered by LNG. Explora V and VI will also utilise hydrogen fuel to power both ship’s hotel operations while in port to allow the vessels to switch off their engines for zero emissions.