The second cruise ship under construction for Explora Journeys, the luxury travel brand of the Cruise Division of MSC Group, reached a milestone when the vessel’s Coin Ceremony was held on February 8 at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy.
Explora II is due to be delivered to the line in 2024, following the debut in May 2023 of the line’s first ship, Explora I. The rapid growth of the luxury line will see an additional four ships built and in service by 2028.
Explora II Coin Ceremony
Cruise line, port, and government officials gathered at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa for the Explora II’s Coin Ceremony, an ancient tradition that places two coins, one from the ship owner and one from the shipbuilder, into the keel of a ship for good luck.
The 63,900 gross ton, 922-guest ship is the second of six planned vessels for the new luxury line, a unit of MSC’s cruise division. All of the ships will be built at Fincantieri shipyards.
The construction of the Explora II will cost 500 million euro and translates into jobs for 2,500 people in the Genoa region, officials said, with the full investment of the six-ship fleet totaling 3.5 billion euro. The impact on the Italian economy, they said, would reach 15 billion euros.
Executive Chairman of the Cruise Division of the MSC Group, Pierfrancesco Vago said, “I am particularly proud that Explora Journeys ships are also built in Italy. In fact, they are destined to represent Italian excellence in the world, honoring an engineering, innovation and design capacity that has no equal at an international level.”
He added, “The building of these ships bear witness to our concrete and tangible commitment in Italy and for Italy. Together with our confidence in the prospects of a country in which the MSC Group has been operating for half a century and employs over 15,000 direct employees, generating an employment impact of a further 40,000 people.”
New Power Technologies
Green technologies are a priority for the Explora Journeys fleet. While Explora I and Explora II will be traditionally powered, Explora III and Explora IV will be powered by LNG (liquid nitrogen gas) and hydrogen. LNG virtually eliminates local air pollutant emissions like sulphur oxides (99%), nitrogen oxides (85%), particles (98%) and CO2 (25%).
New technologies will go further with Explora V and Explora VI, which will be powered by a combination of LNG and hydrogen, plus a six-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell, an industry-first that will eliminate emissions, including methane, while the ships are in port with hotel operations running.
Other environmental technologies that all of the Explora ships will be equipped with include underwater noise management designed to protect marine life, and shore power plug-in connectivity.
Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero said, “It is exciting to see the advancement of this construction. The Explora class is meaningful of the progress of our journey: a concentrate of high technology which, with the subsequent units, will reach even higher levels, following a precise planning towards the ship of tomorrow.”
MSC Group initially contracted with Fincantieri for four ships, but in July 2022, added options for two more.
First Ship Coming in May
Explora I is scheduled to enter service in May 2023 with a series of inaugural itineraries around the Mediterranean. Later voyages will see the ship sailing in Scandinavia and northern Europe, Iceland, New England, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii.
In the summer of 2024, the ship will deploy to Alaska, offering several cruises from Vancouver, B.C. Slated to cruise from May through August, Explora I will sail 10- and 11-night voyages to ports including Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, and to scenic vistas like Mendenhall Glacier and Misty and Tracy Arm Fjords. Like Explora II, the Explora I will be 63,900 gross tons and accommodate 922 guests.
Explora Journeys will be an all-inclusive line with the cruise fare covering all dining and drinks, crew gratuities, unlimited WiFi, wellness and fitness programs, and other services. The ships will have eight dining venues and five cabin categories, including Owner’s Residence, Ocean Residence, Ocean Penthouse, Ocean Terrace Suites, and Ocean Grand Terrace Suites.