Construction Milestones Reached for Two Cruise Ships

MSC's Explora Journeys brand celebrates the float out for EXPLORA II and the steel cutting for EXPLORA III at the Fincantieri shipyard.

Just a month after launching its first cruise ship into service, luxury line Explora Journeys celebrated construction milestones in the building of its second and third vessels at a Fincantieri shipyard in Italy.

The cruise line, a luxury lifestyle brand of MSC Cruises, floated out one ship and cut steel for the other.

Explora Journeys Celebrates at Italian Shipyard

On September 6, 2023, Explora Journeys marked two maritime milestones at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard near Genoa, Italy, where Explora II and Explora III are under construction. The brand’s first ship, Explora I, was delivered to the line in July and embarked on her maiden voyage on August 1.

In a double ceremony at the shipyard, officials from the cruise line, Fincantieri, and local government hailed the float out of Explora II, which is due to enter service in summer 2024, and the cutting of steel for Explora III, set to debut in mid-2026.

Construction Milestone Events
Construction Milestone Events

Following the successful launch of Explora I and the incredibly positive feedback from the first guests, travel advisors and media, who had a chance to experience the Ocean State of Mind, the story continues, and we are now beyond thrilled to witness the next important construction milestones for both Explora II and our first LNG powered ship Explora III,” said Michael Ungerer, Chief Executive Officer of Explora Journeys.

Construction of Explora II began at a Fincantieri shipyard in Naples, Italy, with the steel-cutting ceremony in October 2021, followed by the keel laying in May 2022.

The ship’s float out represents the vessel’s first time touching water, after leaving the construction bay, and signals the start of the final building phases that include the vessel’s interior design, fixtures, and fittings.

Explora II Float Out
Explora II Float Out

Explora III is officially under construction, now that the traditional steel-cutting ceremony has been held. The ship will be the first in the fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), which eliminate emissions such as sulphur oxides (by 99%) and nitrogen oxides (by 85%). LNG also cuts greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20%.

Many community and governmental leaders attended the joint ceremony, including President of the Liguria Region Giovanni Toti and Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci. Along with Ungerer, Leonardo Massa, Managing Director of Explora Journeys & MSC Cruises for Italy, attended the event, as did Fincantieri CEO and General Manager Pierroberto Folgiero, and General Manager of the Merchant Ships Division Luigi Matarazzo.

Cruise Line Plans a Four-Ship Fleet

Explora Journeys envisions a four-ship fleet, with the final ship, Explora IV, scheduled to begin construction in January 2024 and completed in early 2027. Like Explora III, the fourth ship will also be powered by LNG.

Read Also: Explora Journeys Introduces New Program for Multi-Generational Families

EXPLORA I in Southampton, UK
EXPLORA I in Southampton, UK (Photo Courtesy: Explora Journeys)

While just the third and fourth ships in the Explora Journeys fleet will be powered by LNG, all of the vessels are being built with the latest environmental and marine technologies, including shore power plug-in connectivity, underwater noise management systems for the protection of marine life, and onboard energy efficient systems.

Fleet Investment to Top $2.4 Billion

As with their sister ship Explora I, the vessels now under construction will be 63,900-gross tons, and will have guest capacity of 922 in 461 suites. The total fleet construction investment by the cruise line is just over $2.4 billion.

When Explora II launches in the summer of 2024, she will spend her inaugural season in the Mediterranean, calling at ports such as Portofino, Argentario, Rome, Sorrento, Palermo, Syracuse, Trapani, Lipari, Cagliari, Alghero, and the Emerald Coast. A homeport has not yet been announced.

Explora I’s maiden voyage departed from Copenhagen on a 7-night cruise to Iceland and Scotland, including the Shetland Islands. Following her Northern European deployment, Explora I will spend winter 2024-25 in the Caribbean, sailing a series of 6- to 16-night cruises between Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Barbados.

The ship has six dining venues, 12 lounges, two pools, five cabin categories, and a spa and fitness center.

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