Explora Journeys, the new luxury line from MSC Cruises that will soon debut its first vessel, EXPLORA I, has revealed a series of destination experiences the ship will offer during her inaugural Caribbean season, which begins in November 2023 and continues to March 2024.
Excursions exploring nature and local culture are the hallmarks of the all-inclusive cruise brand’s land programs, the cruise line announced on May 25.
Small Groups, Undersea Adventures Are Planned
Explora Journeys, MSC Cruises’ new luxury brand, is gearing up to christen its first ship, EXPLORA I, in less than two months, and is planning ahead for the 922-guest ship’s first season in the Caribbean.
The ship, from November 2023 to March 2024, will sail a series of Caribbean cruises between Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Bridgetown, Barbados, and is featuring shore excursions that will take cruisers to destinations off the beaten paths.
Featured excursions include a U-boat submarine experience in Curacao, where guests can view shipwrecks and marine life at depths up to 600 feet, cave and mangrove explorations at Los Haitises National Park in the Dominican Republic, and diving expeditions at the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve, a marine sanctuary in Guadeloupe.
Some excursions are more traditional, and not off the beaten path, such as visits to the famous rock formations at The Baths National Park on Virgin Gorda, and the island’s Gorda Peak National Park.
Excursion groups will be limited to 25 guests, the line said, providing a more intimate tour experience that can be enjoyed at a slower pace.
The ship will sail 7- to 14-night cruises during her inaugural Caribbean season. Port calls vary by cruise, but all itineraries include a call to MSC Cruises’ private island, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a 95-acre destination in the Bahamas.
EXPLORA I is under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, and recently completed her sea trials. With final touches to the vessel now underway, the ship is scheduled to be christened in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, on July 8.
The ship’s godmother will be Dr. Sylvia Earle, the renowned American oceanographer, explorer, biologist, and conservationist. EXPLORA I will embark on her maiden journey on July 17, 2023 from Southampton, UK, for a 15-night sailing into the Norwegian Fjords and the Arctic Circle, with disembarkation in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As the new cruise line gears up for its launch, efforts are underway to attract family and multi-generational groups. Earlier this month Explora Journeys detailed its “Journey Together Gathering” program, featuring accommodation options for families, entertainment spaces for youngsters, activities for children as young as 3 years old, and free cruise fares for guests under age 18 in certain suite categories.
The centerpiece of the program for children and teenagers is Nautilus Club, a dedicated space where youngsters ages 6 to 17 can participate in traditional and tech games, sports, and creative activities such as art.
Ship Returns to Europe For Summer 2024
The ship will spend her first summer season in Europe, and will return there for summer 2024 after completing her Caribbean itineraries.
In summer 2024, the ship will sail eight Mediterranean and four Northern Europe cruises, calling at ports such as Saint-Tropez, France; Kusadasi, Turkey; Santorini, Greece; Paphos, Cyprus, plus a range of Norwegian destinations.
“Our June to September 2024 Mediterranean and Northern European sailings are designed to showcase not only the beauty but above all the rich diversity of these regions, providing an unforgettable journey for all who embark on these adventures,” said Explora Journeys’ Head of Itinerary Planning and Destination Experiences Sacha Rougier.
Explora Journeys’ second ship, EXPLORA 2, is under construction at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy, and has a scheduled debut in spring 2024. MSC Group has said that four additional ships will be constructed for the luxury brand, all debuting by 2028.