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 the new cruise line’s four luxury ships will set sail in 2023, with the remaining ships ready in 2024, 2025 and 2026.
The initial Explora Journeys ship, Explora I, will blend elegant Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship.
With 461 oceanfront suites and residences, guests will enjoy views at sea and in port from their floor-to-ceiling windows and personal private terrace. Suites will start at 35 square metres.
Explora I’s 14 decks will provide ample indoor public space, and outdoor decks will boast more than 2,500 square metres 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, Explora I was designed with water as a focal point to put guests in “an ocean state of mind”.
The ship will have a guest-to-crew ratio of 1.25 to one and offer flexible dining times at nine distinct restaurants.
Each venue will celebrate global culinary talents, with a focus on wholesome ingredients sustainably sourced from local partners. Several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges will also be available, and there will be no additional costs for guests once they step aboard.
Explora I also features a spacious indoor/outdoor spa and fitness area that includes treatment rooms and state-of-the-art fitness equipment, and offers group workout classes and personal training appointments.
Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Group’s cruise business and broader passenger division, 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.
“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.”
Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer said the brand was designed for “guests who want to “stay longer, leave later and travel deeper”.
“Customer centricity is at the core of everything we do,” he said.
“We’ve commissioned research, organised 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 travellers.”
The launch of Explora Journeys comes not long after MSC Cruises obtained final approval from the Port of Barcelona to build and operate an exclusive cruise terminal.
The multi-year concession will see the construction of an 11,670-square-metre terminal that MSC will operate and manage for a 31-year period. The project is estimated to cost €33 million ($52 million) and is expected to be completed in 2024.
In other MSC news, MSC Splendida became the latest of the cruise line’s ships to restart summer sailings over the weekend with her seven-night itinerary to the Eastern Mediterranean from the northern Italian port of Trieste.