MSC Cruises' luxury brand named Explora Journeys

Explora moves MSC beyond the large-ship, contemporary segment, which has long been a goal of the cruise company. Photo Credit: Explora Journeys
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MSC Group revealed Thursday that its upcoming luxury brand will be called Explora Journeys, along with the first images of what its ships will look like.

Explora hosted a steel-cutting ceremony for the brand's first ship, Explora I, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

In 2019, MSC placed a $2 billion order for four 1,000-passenger, 64,000-gross-ton ships with Fincantieri. The first ship is expected to set sail in 2023 while the remaining ships will in 2024, 2025 and 2026. 

The brand moves MSC beyond the large-ship, contemporary segment, which has long been a goal of the company, said MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago.

An artist's rendering of the lobby on Explora I.
An artist's rendering of the lobby on Explora I.

The Explora I will offer seven-day itineraries with what MSC is calling non-conventional arrival and departure times combined with overnight stays. The first cruises will visit major destinations such as Saint-Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik, and less-visited ones like Bozcaada, Turkey, and Norway's Lofoten Islands. 

The ships will have 461 "suites and residences," as Explora calls them, each with floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies. 

The 14-deck vessel will have three outdoor pools with 64 private cabanas and a fourth indoor pool with a retractable glass roof. MSC said that water was a focal point in the ship's design. 

Nine restaurants will feature sustainably sourced, local ingredients, and there will be several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges, the line said. The ships will also have an indoor/outdoor spa and fitness areas. 

A study in luxury cruising

Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys, said that the brand had "commissioned research, organized focus groups and hosted roundtable discussions with global specialists in luxury to design the perfect ship for our guests."

The Explora I will have an indoor pool with retractable glass roof.
The Explora I will have an indoor pool with retractable glass roof.

The ship will employ what Explora calls the latest "environmental-supporting technologies" and will be ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available, such as hybrid power generation. Built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth and powered by marine gas oil, the four ships will also employ technologies to reduce underwater noise. There will be no single-use plastics onboard or during land-based experiences.

In March, the brand tapped several veterans of upscale cruise brands for its leadership team, including chief sales officer Chris Austin, who was most recently a sales executive with Seabourn; destination experience advisor John Stoll, who was vice president of land programs for 17 years at Crystal; and commercial and strategic advisor Thatcher Brown, most recently president of Dream Cruises and managing director of Crystal Cruises Asia. 

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