Courtesy Cruise Industry News: June 10, 2021 — The MSC Group has announced the company’s entry into the luxury cruise market with the launch of a new brand, Explora Journeys.
Built by Fincantieri, the first of four luxury ships will set sail in 2023, with the remaining ships ready in 2024, 2025 and 2026. All ships will have the “highest level of service and amenities” and will utilize the latest technology to provide “journeys of discovery” through destinations “on and off the beaten path,” MSC 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,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Group’s cruise business and broader passenger division. “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.”
Designed in partnership with superyacht and luxury hospitality designers, the innovative ship will blend Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship. With 461 oceanfront suites and residences, guests will enjoy striking views at sea and in port from their floor-to-ceiling windows and personal private terrace. Suites will start at 35 square meters, which is among the most spacious for the category in the industry.
Fourteen decks will provide ample indoor public space, maximizing guest choice and seclusion. While outdoor decks will offer more than 2,500 square meters overlooking the sea, with 64 private cabanas across three outdoor pools. A fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will allow swimming and poolside relaxation in any weather. Combined with various indoor and outdoor whirlpool baths on the ship’s promenade deck, the ship was designed with water as a focal point to put guests in an “ocean state of mind,” MSC said.
“Explora Journeys was designed for guests who want to stay longer, leave later, and travel deeper,” said Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. “Customer centricity is at the core of everything we do. We’ve commissioned research, organized focus groups, and hosted roundtable discussions with global specialists in luxury to design the perfect ship for our guests. Explora Journeys will bring a new perspective to the travel industry, reinventing the classic cruise experience for the next generation of luxury travelers.”
Guest to crew ratio of 1.25 to 1 will ensure “anticipatory service at every turn,” MSC said, while flexible dining times at nine distinct restaurants will provide “unrivaled variety at sea.”
The dining venues will focus on wholesome ingredients sustainably sourced from local partners, according to the company. Several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges will also be available.
Spacious indoor/ outdoor spa and fitness area onboard will offer treatment rooms, “state-of-the-art” fitness equipment, group workout classes, personal training appointments, tailor-made programs and more.
“Bespoke wellness experiences in each destination will make relaxation and rejuvenation easily accessible onboard and ashore,” MSC wrote.
In partnership with Fincantieri, Explora Journeys is utilizing “the latest in environmental-supporting technologies, while being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available,” MSC said.
“The design incorporates provision for battery storage allowing future hybrid power generation, as well as the latest selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, enabling a reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90 percent. 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 onboard the ship, nor will they be offered during land-based experiences, as Explora Journeys is focused on leaving a positive impression on the places and people visited,” MSC wrote.
Vago said that the MSC Family knows the sea “like few others, and with that knowledge comes passion, love and most of all, a deep respect.”
“Our ships will utilize 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,” he said.
With journeys starting at seven nights, a best-in-class guest experience will ensure relaxed mornings and exciting evenings.
“Non-conventional arrival and departure times combined with overnight stays will allow Explora Journeys to offer guests exclusive access to once in a lifetime experiences. With ships that travel far north and south of the equator, itineraries in the inaugural collection will offer the ideal blend of celebrated destinations such as Saint Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik, and hidden gems such as Kastellorizo, Bozcaada and the Lofoten Islands. Explora Journeys will bring guests to lesser-traveled harbors to enjoy a more authentic experience and a slower pace of travel,” MSC wrote.
The Explora Journeys logo was designed by Alexa Aponte-Vago, CFO of the MSC Group, daughter of founder Gianluigi Aponte and wife of Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago. According to the press release, the logo was inspired by the mandala.
“With roots in spirituality, the pattern represents a journey of personal discovery and fulfillment. Illustrations of the lotus flower symbolize purity of body, speech, and mind, while a nod to the fleur-de-lis represents humility and a connection to European heritage. A sophisticated typeface alludes to the subtle curves of the sea,” MSC Group wrote.
On the morning of June 10, Explora Journeys hosted a steel cutting ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.
“A long-held maritime tradition, this moment celebrates the commencement of the building process for the first ship from Explora Journeys, Explora I, which is scheduled to set sail in 2023. Mr. Vago and Mr. Ungerer were both in attendance, alongside representatives from Fincantieri’s management team,” MSC Group said.
Bookings for the 2023 Inaugural Collection will open in fall 2021.
All photos accompany the Cruise Industry News story
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