Set to launch in 2023 with its first ship, the Explora I, Explora Journeys is a new luxury lifestyle brand. Providing guests with the opportunity to experience an “Ocean State of Mind,” Explora Journeys will have six ships in the fleet – Explora I, Explora II, Explora III, Explora IV, Explora V and Explora VI.  

Privately owned by the MSC Group, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Explora Journeys has evolved from the vision of the Aponte-Vago family wanting to redefine the ocean experience and providing a new style of transformative ocean travel.

More about Explora Journeys 

MSC Group owns and operates MSC Cruises, and the idea for Explora Journeys came from MSC Cruises’ Yacht Club, a ship-within-a-ship concept that offers luxury spaces and experiences within its large ships. Explora Journeys is taking this to the next level.

Explora I and Explora II are currently under construction. The Explora I will launch in May 2023. The Explora II will debut in 2024.

The Explora III and Explora IV are being lengthened by 62 feet and will be powered by LNG (liquefied natural gas) and hydrogen; the additional length will enable the installation of the required systems. The Explora III will debut in 2026, and the Explora IV will debut in 2027. The Explora V will follow, and the Explora VI will debut in 2028.

The Explora ships will have one indoor pool with a rectractable roof.

The Explora ships will have one indoor pool with a rectractable roof.

Each of these ships will accommodate just 1,000 guests in 461 oceanfront suites. The generous outdoor decks will provide spectacular sea views. There are three outdoor pools, 64 private cabanas and one indoor pool with retractable glass roof, plus multiple indoor and outdoor whirlpools. Guests will enjoy a cosmopolitan atmosphere in more than 10 indoor and outdoor bars and lounges.

As for dining, the Explora ships are providing a diversity of culinary riches. In addition to a restaurant with all-day dining, guests can enjoy a Pan-Asian steakhouse, Mediterranean-style and international-style restaurant. There’s also a chef’s kitchen with private dining and culinary school. Poolside dining, a coffee lounge and in-suite dining are available as well.

Captain Serena Melani

Captain Serena Melani

Explora Journeys Names Master of the Explora I

Explora Journeys recently announced that Captain Serena Melani has been appointed the master of the Explora I. She was born and grew up in Livorno, an Italian port city on Tuscany’s coastline, and studied at the Nautical Technical School. After gaining experience working as a bridge officer on cargo ships, in 2010 she became a bridge officer with a luxury cruise line and then was promoted to master in 2016. This led to her becoming the first female and first Italian-born cruise ship captain. In 2020, Captain Melani became the world’s first female captain to bring a cruise ship out of a shipyard.

Explora Journeys’ Focus on Inclusions 

Guests sailing on Explora Journeys will enjoy an all-inclusive journey with high-speed, unlimited Wi-Fi throughout the ship, sophisticated dining at the nine dining venues (along with in-suite dining) and unlimited beverages (including fine wines and premium spirits as well as specialty coffees and soft drinks). Onboard gratuities are included as well. Guests also have free access to the spa thermal area and the wellbeing and fitness programs. Shuttle services from port to city center, where required/available, are also included.

And when guests arrive, an in-suite welcome bottle of champagne and a bottle of spirits of their choice are provided.

Aft lower pool

Aft lower pool

Where Explora Journeys Will Be Sailing

Explora sailings from seven nights to 58 will feature diverse destinations – Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Greenland and Iceland, the Caribbean, USA and Canada, South America and Hawaii. Her inaugural Mediterranean Journey in May 2023 will visit Spain, France, Italy and Greece. 

From May through August 2024, the Explora I will offer three Alaskan itineraries – “Sailing the Whale’s Highway,” “Journey of the Glaciers” and “Remote Wrangell and Spectacular Sitka”. The 10- and 11-night trips will depart from Vancouver for Alaska’s beautiful Inside Passage, making stops at Juneau, Sitka and Victoria, British Columbia. Bringing a taste of Alaska onboard, the restaurants will serve Alaskan seafood, produce and meat.

Liquefied Natural Gas and Hydrogen to Power Ships

Explora Journeys’ third, fourth, fifth and sixth ships will be powered by LNG and hydrogen. The hydrogen will power a six-megawatt fuel cell that will produce emissions-free power for the ships’ hotel operations, allowing the ships to emit zero emissions in port with the engines turned off. This is a significant step that MSC Group, which owns MSC Cruises and Explora Journeys, is taking to reach net zero emissions by 2050 across all its cruise operations for the two brands. 

Commitment to Building a Sustainable Future

Explora Journeys is committed to sustainability and is implementing Environmental Supporting Features on its ships. They will employ LED lighting, shore-to-ship power, state-of-the-art recycling and solid waste management, and high-efficiency and energy-saving appliances. Also, the line has partnered with Travelife for Tour Operators, a leading training, management and certification program for sustainability in tourism. Explora Journeys’ sister company, MSC Cruises, has been partnering with Travelife for Tour Operators since 2018. 

The Explora I’s spacious lobby

The Explora I’s spacious lobby

A Bit More

Explora Journeys lets guests experience the “Ocean State of Mind” – creating memories while escaping to the ocean, relaxing and reconnecting to what matters in their lives. And with that, Explora Journeys is definitely one to consider when planning a future cruise group.

By Cindy Bertram

Cindy Bertram has 15+ years of cruise industry expertise in marketing, content creation, sales and training as well as social media. Her MBA from Loyola University Chicago complements her high creative edge and liberal arts BA. She can be reached at

Photos courtesy of Explora Journeys