MSC Group has made another significant step towards launching its new premium cruise line, Explora Journeys. According to MSC, Fincantieri recently completed sea testing for the new brand’s maiden cruise ship, Explora I.
“The sea trials are an important part of the process, and we’re pleased that Explora I passed with flying colours,” said Explora Journeys CEO, Michael Ungerer. “Our team has worked tirelessly to design and build a ship that offers the perfect combination of luxury, adventure, and sustainability, and we can’t wait to share it with our guests.”
The new brand’s debut is the latest example of the sector’s rapid expansion of the luxury category, which will also see prominent hotel brands such as Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, and the Middle Eastern Aman Group enter the cruise market. Before the October 2018 revelation that they had secured an initial deal with Fincantieri to build four smaller, premium cruise ships, MSC had been believed to be targeting the market. The deal, worth more than €2 billion, was finalised in March 2019 and calls for four 64,000 gross tonne cruise ships to be delivered between 2023 and 2026.
“From the beginning, our vision and purpose has been to create an ocean travel experience like no other, and we are thrilled that the first of our ground-breaking new class of ships, Explora I, will begin sailing in July 2023,” adds Ungerer. The brand is distinctive because it is the only cruise line offering 23 ocean apartments in addition to its 438 suites. The cruise company promises a unique location experience and European elegance aboard the ships.
Explora I construction began on 10 June 2021 at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The brand’s first two cruise ships will be sister ships spanning around 813 feet in length. According to the line, they will feature a high passenger-to-crew ratio and one of the highest guest-to-space ratios in the luxury ocean category.
There are 11 dining options with six different restaurants and 12 bars and lounges among the passenger facilities. There will be three outdoor pools and one indoor pool on each ship. Aside from entertainment, there will be a massive indoor-outdoor health and exercise complex with a premium spa.
MSC Group also praises the design’s extensive use of modern environmental features. The ships are outfitted with an SCR System, sophisticated wastewater treatment, and a ballast water treatment system. The hull design has optimised hydrodynamics to reduce resistance through the water and underwater noise, and the ships are also equipped with trim optimisation software and are capable of shore-to-ship power communication.
Fincantieri launched the Explora I on 30 May 2022, with building on the Explora II commencing the following month. The Explora I will be christened on 8 July in Civitavecchia, Italy, following which it will sail to Southampton, England, for its inaugural voyage. The brand will formally debut on 17 July with a 15-night inaugural cruise through Northern Europe and the Arctic Circle. Her sister ship, Explora II, is scheduled to start service in the Mediterranean in August 2024.