Lucy Abbott explores Explora Journeys’ first ship, Explora I, to discover what guests can expect.
These pages are usually used for reviewing ships that are already sailing. However, on a recent trip, Cruise Trade News was lucky enough to join the senior management team from Explora Journeys for the float out ceremony for Explora I, discovering how the new line will revolutionise luxury cruising, which will truly come to life when Explora I officially launches in summer 2023.
One thing is clear about Explora Journeys from the offset – it is a passion project come to life. With a seafaring story that stretches back generations, the MSC Group – the brains behind the Explora Journeys brand – are keen to make statement.
The personal, family touch is ingrained at every level of Explora I, from the 1.25 to 1 guest per host ratio, to the 78 suites that are multi-generation friendly via connecting rooms.
What’s more, this is a cruise line that has been conceived in direct response to a survey of 20,000 consumers, who stated they craved time, space, authentic connections, personal touches and highly curated experiences on board – which is exactly what Explora Journeys’ tagline, an Ocean State of Mind, stands for.
As a small ship with a capacity of 922 guests, each on-board space promises an intimate atmosphere with no large theatre or main restaurant, instead delivering smaller private experiences through tailored spaces.
The cherry on top of this is that all-inclusive comes as standard on Explora I.
The luxury of choice with Explora Journeys
There are four categories of suites on Explora I, each offering thoughtful interiors and features, so guests have the luxury of choosing their ‘Home at Sea’ based on bonus extras instead of choosing between more standard additions. The first category, the Ocean Suites, are 35 square metres alongside an 11 square metre oceanfront terrace.
Guests who prioritise relaxation can drink up the views (and a cocktail) on their terrace in the dining area or perhaps while lounging on a daybed for ultimate relaxation.
Inside the Ocean Suites, guests can enjoy a selection of plush pillows to choose from. Luxury is infused in each suite to the extent of having Dyson hairdryers in each room, offering the potential of a guaranteed good hair day, every day.
Up to the next class of suites, the Ocean Penthouses. Here, guests can make the most of the addition of a private dining area for four and a spacious work desk.
Guests who want to have a true home‑away-from-home can keep all their home comforts with a refrigerated mini-bar that is replenished to their exact preference.
Fashionistas will also thrive with the spacious walk-in wardrobe with a seated vanity area, so they can get ready in style.
Ocean Residences are the next class up. They boast butler service and separate living, dining and sleeping areas at an impressive total of 70 to 149 square metres.
For guests who want the best of the best, recommend the Owner’s Residence. There is only one of this style of accommodation on the ship, so get in quick.
The stand-out feature is easily the private terrace that covers the full ship’s width and houses a massive whirlpool, lounge area, days beds, dining table and even an outdoor shower.
With an impressive 11 culinary experiences, choice is a luxury guests will certainly have on Explora I. Each dining venue offers something completely different from the next and, with the welcome addition of flexible, all-day dining times at no additional cost, a large selling point is how guests can tailor their meals to their own schedule, not that of the cruise line.
Supporting and connecting with the destinations visited is a big part of Explora Journeys’ ethos, so guests will be able to sample sustainably sourced ingredients from local partners at each meal.
Sakura, the Pan Asian restaurant, for example, is set to offer explosive flavours, while Marble & Co. Grill, the steakhouse, will be the place for stunning beef. And, let’s not forget in-suite dining, where guests will continue to be treated to global dishes and local ingredients.
Changing the game
Explora Journeys has been vocal about its ambition to bring what it considers a much-needed refreshing mindset to luxury cruising and has emphasised at every turn how this relates to the personal touch.
Its overarching aim is to connect guests emotionally with the people, places and sights around them.
A glimpse is enough for me to understand and get excited about this new concept. I’m a big believer in passion moving people to achieve the best things in life, and Explora I is the embodiment of this.
The message is simple – expect luxury, choice, thoughtfulness and personalisation. As Explora Journeys says – the Ocean State of Mind.