MSC’s Luxury Cruise Line Delays Launch of First Ship

MSC's luxury cruise brand Explora Journeys delays the launch of its first vessel, EXPLORA I due to supply chain issues.

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Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand of MSC Group, has delayed the launch of its first vessel, Explora I, which was scheduled to debut at her handover ceremony on July 6, 2023. The ship is under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

Further Enhancements Needed, Line Says

Supply chain issues and the need for further enhancements to the ship resulted in a postponement of Explora I’s delivery from the shipyard to Explora Journeys, slated for July 6. The ship’s naming ceremony, set for July 8 in Rome, also is called off.

The cruise line had earlier announced that the ship’s godmother would be Dr. Sylvia Earle, the renowned American oceanographer, explorer, biologist, and conservationist.

EXPLORA I Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Explora Journeys

Explora Journeys had planned the ship’s maiden voyage for July 17, and it is unclear whether that sailing will operate. On July 5, the cruise line’s website had no voyages listed for July; the first available sailing is now shown as a 7-night cruise from Copenhagen to Reykjavik, Iceland, on August 1.

The luxury ship’s maiden cruise was to depart July 17 from Southampton, UK, on a 15-night itinerary to the Norwegian Fjords and the Arctic Circle, with disembarkation in Copenhagen.

Reports indicate that the ship’s launch will be delayed by a few weeks as enhancements are completed. It is the second time the ship’s construction schedule has been amended. Explora I was originally slated to debut in May 2023, but in the fall of 2022, the cruise line pushed back the date to July, also citing supply chain challenges.

Explora I Headed to the Caribbean This Year

A series of announcements by the cruise line in recent months offered glimpses into the services and amenities Explora I will provide.

In May 2023, it revealed the Journey Together Gathering program, a mix of activities, amenities, and special deals all designed to attract bookings from multi-generational family groups.

In a bid to distinguish itself as a provider of ultra-luxury services, Explora Journeys in June revealed a partnership with Rolex that will create the industry’s first Rolex boutique at sea. The Swiss company’s ultra-luxe timepieces will be offered for sale in a dedicated shop onboard Explora I.

EXPLORA I Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Explora Journeys

And the line had announced that, following her summer season in Northern Europe, the ship from November 2023 to March 2024 would sail a series of Caribbean cruises between Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Bridgetown, Barbados.

The ship is slated to operate 7- to 14-night cruises, with port calls varying by cruise date. All itineraries include calls at MSC Cruises’ private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a 95-acre destination in the Bahamas.

MSC Cruises recently stated that the reserve will temporarily close for upgrades from April 7 through May 22, 2024. The closure is not expected to affect Explora I’s visits to the destination.

A New Fleet for MSC

Explora I is the first in a series of six luxury ships planned for Explora Journeys, a new brand within the cruise division of MSC Group, which also owns MSC Cruises. The all-balcony ship will accommodate 922 guests in 461 suites and residences, all designed with the brand’s “Home at Sea” lifestyle concept.

MSC Explora II Coin Ceremony
Photo Courtesy: Explora Journeys

The ship’s opulent Owner’s Residence features 3,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space. Explora I also offers 22 Ocean Residences, 67 Ocean Penthouses, and 371 Ocean Terrace and Ocean Grand Terrace Suites.

Explorer Journeys’ second ship, Explora 2, is under construction and is expected to launch in 2024. Four additional ships are slated to enter service by 2028, the company said.

All of the luxury ships will offer six restaurants, plus in-suite dining, 12 indoor and outdoor bars and lounges, four swimming pools, extensive outdoor decks with private cabanas, wellness facilities, and entertainment.

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