MSC’s Luxury Cruise Brand Reveals Maiden Itinerary for First Vessel

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Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand from MSC Cruises, revealed inaugural cruise details for its first ship, EXPLORA I, which is due to enter service in summer 2023. The highly anticipated cruise ship is under construction at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard and is the first of a planned six-ship luxury fleet.

EXPLORA I Will Sail to Arctic Circle in July

EXPLORA I will sail her first voyage, “A Maiden Journey into Epic Fjords and the Arctic Circle,” from Southampton on July 17, 2023, calling at a dozen ports in four countries. The all-balcony ship, now open for bookings, will accommodate 922 guests in 461 suites and residences, all designed with the brand’s “Home at Sea” lifestyle concept.

On November 23, the cruise line announced that the ship will call at Zeebrugge, Belgium, and at Geiranger, Trondheim, Molde, Leknes, Brønnøysund, Flåm, Bergen and Stavanger, Norway, before sailing to Denmark and calling at Skagen and the country’s capital city, Copenhagen.

Michael Ungerer, Chief Executive Officer of Explora Journeys, said: “Our vision and purpose from day one has been to create a travel and ocean experience like no other and we are thrilled that our ground-breaking new class of ship, EXPLORA I, will introduce guests during her maiden journey to some of the most breathtaking destinations in Northern Europe while enjoying the finest luxury hospitality at sea.”

A Grand Tour of Northern Europe

The Zeebrugge port call will allow EXPLORA I guests to experience the medieval architecture, canals and gardens of nearby Bruges before heading north to the Nordic village of Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of the world’s highest waterfalls, Seven Sisters.

In Trondheim, the Viking capital of Norway until 1217, guests can visit the medieval Nidaros Cathedral, and in Molde, also called the City of Roses, cruisers can admire the 222 now-capped mountain peaks that ring the destination. Another call, at Leknes, is on Vestvagoya, one of Norway’s six Lofoten Islands within the Arctic Circle.

Explora V Cruise Ship
Render Courtesy: Explora Journeys

The port call at Bergen’s 14th-century Hanseatic wharf, Bryggen, offers guests easy access to a city known for its arts, crafts and food markets. Bergen is a member of UNESCO’s City of Gastronomy network.

Once in Denmark, the ship will call at Skagen, the country”s most northerly point, where the Baltic meets the North Sea. Skagen is noted for its art and architecture, its seafood and the famous migrating dune at Råbjerg Mile. Arriving in Copenhagen on August 1, guests can explore what is widely considered the cultural hub of Scandinavia.

“Guests on board EXPLORA I’s inaugural journey can look forward to immerse themselves in local cultures, both on and off the beaten path, as well as witnessing some of the world’s most astonishing natural wonders. Surprise treats will be revealed throughout their voyage such as thrilling experiences, thoughtful gifts and exciting guest artistes that are all designed to inspire the discerning travellers’ desire to discover the world around them, meet new people, and reconnect with themselves,” Ungerer said of the port calls.

Spacious Suites Let the Line Shine In

Suite options onboard Explora I and II include 1 owner’s residence, 22 ocean residences, 67 ocean penthouses, and 371 ocean terrace and ocean grand terrace suites. All suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light and provide wide ocean views.

The ocean grand terrace suites will be among the largest in the industry (420 sq. ft.) and feature their own private terrace, between (75-118 sq. ft.) with an extension to the living space. Suites also will have daybeds and an alfresco dining area.

Explora II Cruise Ship
Explora II Cruise Ship

Explorer Journeys’ second ship, EXPLORA 2, also 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.

Parent company MSC Cruises operates 19 cruise ships and unveiled its Explorer Journeys brand in 2021, marking its entry into the luxury market. Some MSC Cruises ships offer MSC Yacht Club, an exclusive, ship-within-a-ship luxury concept with plush suites, 24-hour butler service, a dedicated concierge, a private restaurant and other amenities.

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