The 922-passenger cruise ship Explora I will sail in Northern Europe before heading across the Atlantic for North American and Caribbean itineraries this fall and winter

Explora Journeys, the new luxury cruise line providing transformative travel, officially took delivery of the Explora I cruise ship on July 20 at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The first in its fleet, the Explora I makes her maiden voyage August 1, a seven-night sailing from Copenhagen to Reykjavik. It will be followed by a variety of itineraries in Northern Europe.

New Cruise Ship Handover Ceremony 

The traditional maritime event in Italy was attended by Gianluigi Aponte, founder and chairman of MSC Group; Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Group’s Cruise Division; Zoe Africa Vago, godmother of the Explora I; Captain Serena Melani, master of the Explora I; Michael Ungerer, CEO, Explora Journeys; and Pierroberto Folgiero, Fincantieri CEO. Representatives of MSC’s construction team, together with the managers and workers from the shipyard, were also there.

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Group’s Cruise Division, speaks at the ceremony at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard.

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Group’s Cruise Division, speaks at the ceremony at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard.

Pierfrancesco Vago said, “Today is a historic day and represents a decisive step in our growth path because it marks the entry of the MSC Group into the luxury travel sector. This segment has strong growth prospects, in which we strongly believe and whose standards we aim to redefine, focusing as always on excellence and luxury.”

Ungerer declared, “This traditional maritime moment marks the most important milestone for Explora Journeys as we will finally be able to showcase our highly anticipated, extraordinary new ship. We have pushed the boundaries of innovation and design to create a ship that embodies our commitment to excellence. With the delivery of Explora I our vision to provide unparalleled luxury experiences has become an incredible reality. We invite our guests to embark on transformative journeys, offering an opportunity for inner and outer discovery inspired by the ocean, resulting in physical, intellectual and spiritual rejuvenation. We call this the ‘Ocean State of Mind.’”

Fast Facts About Explora Journeys’ New Luxury Cruise Ship

  • The Explora I cruise ship has 461 oceanfront suites, penthouses and residences, all designed to be “homes at sea,” with sweeping ocean views from private terraces.
  • She’s 831 feet long and 63,000 gross register tons. 
  • The ship offers six restaurants and the option of in-suite dining. 
  • There are 12 bars and lounges, eight indoors and four outdoors. 
  • The Explora I has three outdoor pools and an indoor pool with a retractable glass roof. 
  • Guests also enjoy wellness facilities and extensive outdoor decks with 64 private cabanas.
  • The extra-fee Chef’s Kitchen is an immersive experience held in an oceanfront kitchen that accommodates 12 guests.
Med Yacht Club

Med Yacht Club

Luxury Cruise Ship Diverse Dining Options 

Dining options on the Explora I luxury cruise ship include Marble & Co. Grill, Med Yacht Club, Sakura, Emporium Marketplace, Anthology and Fil Rouge. The variety of cuisines and visual excitement of these luxury dining experiences come from the leadership of Franck Garanger, Explora Journeys’ head of culinary, and his talented team.

  • The Med Yacht Club offers regionally-inspired dishes, with tastes and textures of Italy, Spain, France, Greece and North Africa in sharing plates that include plant- based ingredients. These are accompanied by wines from the vineyards of the Mediterranean. 
  • Marble & Co. Grill, with soft lighting and a relaxed environment, refines the European steakhouse concept, providing exceptional cuts of sumptuous and sustainable meats. It has a dry ager and a cellar stocked with fine wines. 
  • Sakura, inspired by the ancient tea rooms of Kyoto, means “cherry blossom.”  Chefs follow traditional Japanese techniques, creating an authentic pan-Asian experience. The menu embraces Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese cuisines as well as Japanese cuisine. A sommelier is on hand to advise guests on sake and other Asian-influenced drinks.
Sakura is the Explora I’s pan-Asian restaurant.

Sakura is the Explora I’s pan-Asian restaurant.

  • Emporium Marketplace has cooking stations serving a variety of destination- inspired dishes, including sushi, meats and seafood cooked to order, along with pasta and freshly baked pizza. Guests also enjoy breads, pastries and charcuterie. Smoothies, acai bowls and fresh juices are served at breakfast.
  • Fil Rouge offers French-inspired international cuisine with an intimate ambiance. The decor features intricate hexagon shapes contrasting with clean white walls, a tribute to timeless elegance.
  • Anthology features a menu showcasing a number of global cuisines, including dishes curated from guest chefs around the world.

Explora I’s Upcoming Sailings 

On her seven-night maiden voyage on August 1 from Copenhagen, the Explora I will visit Lerwick in the Shetland Islands and Kirkwall in the Orkneys before arriving in Reykjavik. Other Northern Europe itineraries will vary from seven to 11 nights. Then she is scheduled to cross the Atlantic via Greenland. Her 2023-2024 schedule looks like this:

  • Autumn 2023 journeys in North America
  • Caribbean sailings in the winter
  • Spring 2024 features the U.S. Pacific Coast and Hawaii
  • The Explora I returns to Europe for Mediterranean cruises in summer 2024
Cocoon Residences

Cocoon Residences

The Explora I provides best in class guest experiences with relaxed mornings and exhilarating evenings. Non-conventional arrival times and departure times, combined with overnight stays in port, gives guests exclusive access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences and a slower pace of travel. The Explora I will call on less-visited ports, allowing guests to enjoy more authentic experiences. 

Explora Journeys’ Future Cruise Ships 

Explora Journeys’ Explora II set to debut in August 2024, with the Explora III coming in 2026 and Explora IV in 2027. Both the Explora III and Explora IV will be LNG-powered.

Offering luxury ambiance, specially crafted experiences and unique destinations, Explora Journeys is definitely one to consider when organizing your next group cruise. The new luxury line is truly transforming ocean travel.

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By Cindy Bertram