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Steel cut for Explora I, first vessel in MSC Cruises’ luxury Explora Journeys fleet

Visiting lesser-known ports, Explora I will 'redefine the cruise experience,' according to Vago
MSC Cruises unveiled its new, luxury brand, Explora Journeys, with a steel cutting ceremony for the first of four vessels today attended by Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Group’s cruise business, and Michael Ungerer, CEO, Explora Journeys.

Being built at Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, the 248 mtr, 63,900gt vessel will sail in 2023 with each remaining ship set to be completed in 2024, 2025 and 2026.  

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.'

Bookings for Explora Journeys’ 2023 Inaugural Collection open this autumn.

Exploring lesser known ports

Explora I will sail journeys starting at seven nights, with non-conventional arrival and departure times combined with overnight stays. 

The vessels will sail to lesser-travelled ports and embrace a slower pace of travel.

Destinations in the inaugural collection include Saint Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik, as well as Kastellorizo, Bozcaada and the Lofoten Islands. 

Design focussed on creating an ocean state of mind

‘We’ve commissioned research, organised focus groups, and hosted roundtable discussions with global specialists in luxury to design the perfect ship for our guests...’ Ungerer said.

Designed in partnership with superyacht and luxury hospitality designers, the vessel will comprise fourteen decks and contain 461 oceanfront suites and residences, with floor to ceiling windows and personal private terraces; suites will start at 35 sq. mtr.

The water will serve as a focal point; outdoor decks of more than 2,500 sq. mtr. overlook the sea, with 64 private cabanas spread across three outdoor pools. A fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will enable swimming and poolside relaxation in all weathers, and indoor as well as outdoor whirlpool baths on the ship’s promenade deck will feature.

A 1.25 to 1 passenger-crew ratio aims to ensure prompt service, with ample space on board. 

Dining features

Nine restaurants offering flexible dining times will be available, each celebrating global culinary talents, with wholesome ingredients sustainably sourced from local providers.

The vessel will also include several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges.

Leisure and wellness facilities 

Bespoke wellness experiences will take place on the ship as well as ashore at each destination.

A spacious indoor/outdoor spa and fitness area will provide treatment rooms, the latest fitness equipment, group workout classes, personal training appointments and tailor-made programmes.

‘Elevating’ environmental standards 

Built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth and powered by marine gas oil, all four ships will be RINA DOLPHIN certified for reduced underwater noise. Single-use plastics will not be used on board, nor will they be offered during land-based experiences. Built with the latest selective catalytic reduction technology to enable a 90% reduction of NOx emissions, the vessel has added provision for battery storage, allowing future hybrid power generation.

Commenting on MSC Cruises’ ‘passion, love and deep respect’ of the sea, Vago continued, ‘Our ships will utilise state of the art technology to ensure we are leading the movement towards a more sustainable future. Together with our partners, we’re currently developing ground-breaking technologies that will elevate the status quo, not just for this generation but also beyond.’

Emblem designed by Alexa Aponte-Vago

Inspired by the mandala, the Explora Journeys logo was designed by Alexa Aponte-Vago, CFO of the MSC Group, daughter of founder Gianluigi Aponte and Vago's wife.

Continued growth strategy 

The news follows the launch of MSC Virtuosa and MSC Seashore this year. Construction of new dedicated terminals is underway in Miami and Barcelona

Red Sea itineraries were announced earlier this year.