Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2021

4 0 D elivering transformative cruises that will redefine the concept of luxury travel and empower guests to achieve an “ocean state of mind” is the challenging, yet intriguing, aim of new brand Explora Journeys. Launched in June 2021, it is the first-ever luxury cruise brand to be established by family-owned shipping business MSC Group and will be led by industry stalwart and CEO Michael Ungerer. “MSC Group’s Pierfrancesco Vago, his wife Alexa and the Aponte family, have wanted to build a luxury cruise brand that will redefine the industry for many years and now is the perfect time,” he says. “The luxury hospitality sector was growing rapidly pre-pandemic and consumer research indicates it will continue expanding post-pandemic. There’s significant pent-up demand from both regular and first-time cruisers who are eager to explore and enjoy a new type of luxury experience with family and friends after spending so much time at home during the pandemic.” When designing the brand, ships and itineraries, Explora Journeys commissioned extensive industry research and hosted roundtable discussions with global specialists in luxury hospitality and design. Noting that customer- centricity is at the core of everything Explora Journeys does, Ungerer adds that his team also organised focus groups involving around 20,000 repeat cruisers and luxury travellers from across Europe, China, Japan, the USA and elsewhere. One of the recurring themes that emerged from the discussions was that people are yearning for authentic, immersive and meaningful travel experiences and a sense of connection. Michael Ungerer gives Rebecca Gibson an insight into how MSC Group’s new brand Explora Journeys will transform the concept of luxury cruising and experiential travel Enriching explorations FEATURED INTERV IEW EXPLORA I will feature various luxurious spaces for guests to relax, including a pool with a retractable roof