The first cruise ship constructed for Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand of MSC Group, has successfully completed her sea trials and is back at the shipyard for finishing touches.
The 922-guest Explora I is being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, and will enter service in July 2023.
Explora I Begins Final Prep Before July Debut
MSC Group, owner of MSC Cruises and the new luxury lifestyle brand Explora Journeys, announced on April 13 that Explora I, the first vessel in a planned six-ship fleet for the luxe line, has finished her sea trials, which includes a series of performance tests in navigation, propulsion and other key systems. Construction of the 63,900 gross-ton ship began in June 2021.
With final preparations now underway, the ship is scheduled to be christened in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, on July 8. Explora Journeys announced earlier this month that the ship’s godmother will be Dr. Sylvia Earle, the renowned American oceanographer, explorer, biologist, and conservationist, who will preside over the ceremony.
Following the naming ceremony the ship will sail her 15-night maiden voyage on July 17, cruising from Southampton to Copenhagen with calls in the Norwegian fjords and the Arctic Circle.
“Our vision and purpose from day one has been to create an ocean travel experience like no other and we are thrilled that the first of our ground-breaking new class of ships, Explora I will start sailing in July 2023,” said Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer.
“The sea trials are a critical part of the process, and we’re pleased that Explora I passed with flying colours. Our team has worked tirelessly to design and build a ship that offers the perfect combination of luxury, adventure, and sustainability, and we can’t wait to share it with our guests,” he added.
The 14-deck Explora I will feature 461 suites, all designed with the line’s Homes At Sea experience in mind. The average suite size is 452 square feet, which is among the largest in the industry.
The ship will offer one Owner’s Residence, 22 Ocean Residences, 67 Ocean Penthouses, 301 Ocean Terrace Suites and 70 Ocean Grand Terrace Suites, all with private balconies.
Cruisers will find a choice of 11 dining venues and 12 bars and lounges, plus the Ocean Wellness spa and fitness center, three outdoor and one indoor pools, and 64 private cabanas.
Following her maiden voyage Explora I will cruise several destinations, including northern Europe, Iceland, New England, the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii.
In the summer of 2024, the ship will deploy to Alaska, offering 10- and 11-night cruises from Vancouver, B.C., with calls in Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Ketchikan and other ports in the Frontier State.
Several More Ships Planned By 2028
The second ship in the fleet, Explora 2, also is under construction, with a scheduled debut in spring 2024. The ship is being built at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy.
The new-build marked a key milestone in early February 2023 when the traditional Coin Ceremony was held. Maritime tradition holds that placing a coin under the keel during construction will bring good luck to the captain and crew.
MSC Group has said that four additional ships will be constructed for the luxury brand, all debuting by 2028. While the first two ships are traditionally powered, Explora 3 and Explora 4 will run on LNG (liquid nitrogen gas) and hydrogen, while Explora 5 and Explora 6 will feature more advanced technologies, including six-megawatt hydrogen fuel cells that will eliminate emissions, including methane, while the ships are in port with hotel operations running.