Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

68 INTERVIEW An ocean state of mind Discerning travellers will soon be able to experience a new kind of luxury with Explora Journeys. Jon Ingleton asked Michael Ungerer about the brand’s impending debut while attending the coin ceremony for its second ship this February Family-owned shipping business MSC Group’s luxury cruise brand Explora Journeys will debut its maiden vessel, Explora I, in Civitavecchia near Rome, Italy, in July 2023. Explora I was developed in partnership with renowned superyacht and luxury hospitality designers and is being built at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone yard in Italy. It will “blend elegant Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship” to redefine the concept of luxury travel and empower guests to achieve an “ocean state of mind”. Highlights onboard the 14-deck vessel will include 461 oceanview suites and residences, multiple indoor and outdoor lounges and bars, six restaurants, four swimming pools, and a spa and fitness facilities. “Explora I is in the final stages of outfitting, the shipboard team has been hired and everything is coming together for the big reveal on 8 July in advance of the maiden voyage from Southampton, UK, on 17 July,” says Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. The company has geared up in readiness for Explora I’s inaugural season. “The shoreside team has grown to 130 professionals – half in Geneva and the other half dispersed around the world to give us global coverage in every time zone and language from the West Coast of the USA to Australia,” says Ungerer. “It’s been a giant puzzle but we’re putting the final pieces in place now. The big pieces like the culinary experience, ocean wellness programme, entertainment and the enrichment through our itineraries are all in place.” Now it’s about finesse, delivering the promised hyper-luxury finish that passengers will expect. Explora Journeys is also making progress with the other newbuilds in what will eventually become a six-ship fleet. In February 2023, it hosted a coin ceremony for Explora II, which is being constructed at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard and is expected to start service in August 2024. In a bold move typical of the forwardthinking MSC Group, Explora Journeys opted to dramatically change tactics with Explora III and Explora IV. The brand is significantly redesigning and extending the vessels to accommodate LNG “ This has been a passion project from the outset, one that will tick every box for discerning nextgeneration luxury travellers” The indoor pool is just one of the many luxurious spaces guests can relax in while sailing onboard Explora I