12 KEYNOTE Designing for the discerning traveller As Explora Journeys prepares for its impending debut, Michael Ungerer spoke with Alex Smith about the role that interior design will play in delivering a uniquely luxurious guest experience When Explora Journeys enters the world of luxury travel in July 2023 with the debut of Explora I, it will be the realisation of a long-held ambition for the owners of its parent company, the MSC Group. Led by the Aponte family, the group is aiming to fill what it sees as a gap in the luxury cruise market by delivering a unique new experience for discerning travellers that evokes an ‘ocean state of mind’. It’s a vision that will be reflected in all aspects of the cruise line’s operations, including the design of its interior spaces. “Our aspiration is to create a unique ‘ocean state of mind’ by connecting guests with the sea, with themselves and other like-minded individuals, while offering remarkable itineraries that will blend renowned destinations with lesser-travelled ports for a journey that inspires discovery in all its forms,” says Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. “Our fleet of up to six luxury ships will be launched between 2023 and 2028 and will be exquisitely designed to stimulate the senses and enhance the guests’ connection with the ocean. The interior design has been developed in collaboration with both De Jorio Luxury & Yachts and London-based architectural and interior design studio NenMar.” The first of these six ships, Explora I, has been designed with a luxurious European style that recalls not only the standards of luxury ocean travel brands but also luxury resorts and retreats on land. Ungerer believes that this unique offering will place Explora in a category of its own, bridging the gap between the onboard and onshore luxury experience.