MSC Cruises is joining the big leagues, going toe-to-toe with the Big Three cruise lines in terms of its cruise product, as well as its subsidiaries, with the launch of its new luxury cruise line, Explora Journeys.
Carnival Corporation has Seabourn, Royal Caribbean has Silversea, Norwegian Cruise Line has Regent Seven Seas and Oceania, and now MSC Cruises will soon have Explora Journeys, its new luxury subsidiary, setting sail in 2023.
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MSC Cruises revealed renderings of the first of four planned cruise ships for its new luxury line on June 10th, during a steel cutting ceremony for the ship, Explora 1, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.
Explora 1 is due for delivery in 2023, while her three sister ships will be delivered in 2024, 2025 and 2026.
“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,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises.
“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,” he added.
The ethos of Explora Journeys has been described as “an ocean state of mind”, and Explora 1, which was designed by superyacht and luxury hotel architects, will have onboard spaces designed with water as a focal point.
Green tech aboard Explora Journeys
All four Explora vessels will be equipped with the latest green technologies and will be designed to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available.
The ships will be powered by marine gas oil, which is cleaner and ‘greener’ than heavy fuel oil or diesel, but not as environmentally friendly as LNG.
However, the design incorporates provision for battery storage, which will facilitate hybrid power generation in the future.
The ships will also be built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions while docked, as well as selective catalytic reduction technology to decrease nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 per cent.
In addition, all four ships will be RINA Dolphin-certified for reduced underwater noise and single-use plastics will be banned – both on the ship and during land-based experiences.
Explora 1 will feature 14 passenger decks, with 461 ocean view suites and residences that will include floor-to-ceiling windows and ocean balconies.
The suites will start at 35 square metres, making them among the most spacious in the luxury segment of the wider cruise industry.
“Explora Journeys was designed for guests who want to stay longer, leave later, and travel deeper,” added Michael Ungerer, CEO, Explora Journeys.
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“We’ve commissioned research, organised focus groups, and hosted roundtable discussions with global specialists in luxury to design the perfect ship for our guests,” he said.
Explora 1 will feature a promenade deck with indoor and outdoor whirlpool baths, a pool with a retractable glass roof and more than 2,500 square metres of outdoor decks with three outdoor pools and 64 private cabanas.
There’ll also be nine distinct restaurants with flexible dining times, several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges, and an indoor/outdoor spa and fitness area. The spa will offer group classes, personal training sessions and bespoke wellness experiences.
With Explora 1 due to enter service in 2023, booking for her inaugral season will open this coming autumn. The ship will sail 7-night cruises initially, visiting Reykjavik in Iceland, Saint Tropez and Bordeaux in France, and lesser-known ports such as Kastellorizo in Greece, Bozcaada in Turkey, and Norway’s Lofoten Islands.