In May of this year, Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri announced the floating out of the first cruise ship for MSC Group’s new luxury brand Explora Journeys.
Construction associated with EXPLORA 1 started last June, with the vessel expected to commence operations by the end of May 2023. EXPLORA one, the first associated with four luxury cruise ships ordered, was floated at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.
“The construction of the innovative Explora Journeys fleet, commissioned in order to Fincantieri by the MSC Group in 2018, continues at a fast pace thanks to a total order worth more than €2bn for four units, ” Fincantieri said in a release.
Explora Travels, the luxury cruise brand of MSC Cruises, has been first teased in October 2018, and is now looking to build momentum in the lead-up in order to the maiden voyage of its first ship in May 2023.
Frances Marcellin talks to Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer about the brand new fleet, the particular operator’s vision for the future of luxury cruises, and how it is seeking to target “discerning travellers” with its unique itineraries and onboard offerings.
Frances Marcellin: What is your background and exactly how did it position you for the role associated with CEO in Explora Travels?
Jordan Ungerer: As CEO, I have been leading all aspects of the creation, development, and execution associated with Explora Journeys, a luxury lifestyle brand on a mission to redefine ocean travel for discerning travellers. Before my role as TOP DOG of Explora Journeys, I worked in several leadership positions with multi-national tourism companies in the US, Europe, and Asia. My background is both in luxury hospitality (hotels) and the cruise industry, as well as in family-owned food.
What makes Explora Travels stand out from the luxurious cruise crowd?
We don’t consider ourselves as another cruise brand name, we take the next generation of luxurious travellers on a journey plus make them enjoy memorable experiences. Our competitive set is the wider luxury journey and hospitality market.
Differentiation and the need to ensure Explora Journeys is set apart from others in the high-class cruising industry have been from the forefront of our decision-making process. We have identified five central elements within which we can distinguish ourself: design, space, choice, destinations, and destination experiences; along with sustainability weaved into every touchpoint.
What is your target market?
Our guests are sophisticated, affluent, plus well-travelled. They are looking for authentic, highly-curated, transformational, and slower traveling experiences – while being conscious about leaving the positive impact.
Through a significant investment in global research, surveys, focus groups, and consumer intelligence, Explora Journeys has been created to appeal to the next generation of critical travellers, with regard to both those who are keen cruisers and new-to-cruise.
Our key markets are usually Europe (Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), the UK, plus the US. We are also targeting South America (Brazil) and Australia, as well as some Asian countries.
When will your first deliver, EXPLORA We, launch and what has the particular investment been?
The ship’s maiden journey will now leave from Southampton, UK, upon 17 July 2023. To ensure our own ships are equipped with the latest technologies and innovations, we have increased our initial investment of €2bn (for four ships) to €3. 5bn, with our recent announcement of two additional boats, bringing the fleet from four in order to six ships. This also includes an additional €120m each regarding fitting EXPLORA III plus IV with LNG engines.
What will be the expected timeline for that fleet associated with six boats after the first ship launches in July next year?
Explora Journeys will launch the fleet of six ships, two associated with which are usually under construction (EXPLORA I actually and EXPLORA II). A further two, which will be powered by hydrogen (EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI), will be launched through 2023 to 2028.
The planned timeline is usually:
- EXPLORA I – 2023
- EXPLORA II – 2024
- EXPLORA III – 2026
- EXPLORA IV and EXPLORA V – 2027
- EXPLORA VI – 2028
Can you provide more details about the particular technology that will become used to maximise energy efficiency and fuel economy of the deliver?
EXPLORA V and VI will end up being hydrogen-powered plus will feature a new era of LNG engines that will tackle the issue of methane slip. They will certainly also be equipped with business first environmental technologies and solutions, including a containment system intended for liquid hydrogen which will enable them to use this promising low-carbon gas.
Hydrogen fuel will power a six-megawatt fuel cell to produce emission free power to get the hotel operation and allow vessels to run on zero emissions in port, with the engines turned off.
The ships are furthermore designed to allow for future hybrid-power generation and are equipped with the particular latest selective catalytic reduction technology, enabling a reduction in nitrogen emissions associated with 90%, plus ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO 2 emissions while with berth.
This is a lot more proof of our commitment in order to adapting to alternative energy solutions as they become available and our own pledge in order to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions simply by 2050.
The Aponte family are behind industry-leading MSC for Me on MSC Cruises’ navy of smart ships. How will Explora Journeys help reduce friction on board for passengers?
We believe in high tech that supports high touch. Explora Journeys will have its own Explora app pertaining to guests on EXPLORA We to enhance their experience.
It will support the guest in brand and product discovery (ships, itineraries, and destination experiences); digital checking; the embarkation process; the onboard encounter (reservation plus services); and communication along with onboard crew (personalised notifications capability).
There may be enhanced and powerful satellite internet connectivity plus strong WiFi coverage – each suite will have its own Wi-fi access point to make sure that all the particular guests and crew members may have the best web experience.
There is a digital daily programme plus venue management platform integrated in the particular Explora App to give guests a greater experience with the onboard activities, as nicely as an innovative SuiteTV platform so visitors can enjoy an in-suite digital encounter via the wise television.
How does technology help you personalise the particular passenger experience on board?
In the luxury segment the guest-centric approach is key, within this regards our purpose is to deliver digital guest-centric and future-proof IT solutions, in order to satisfy the business requirements and create a seamless end-to-end visitor experience.
We built a global customer 360 view to follow the particular guest from the first moment they are usually in contact with us. With our systems fully incorporated ashore-onboard all of us can keep the guest preferences and personalisation along their journey to ensure they receive the best personalised service at any moment.
The particular staterooms’ ‘homes at sea’ design concept was created in collaboration with De Jorio Luxury & Yachts projects plus London-based architectural and interior design studio NenMar. Are you able to provide more information about design concept?
With their nautical heritage of over 300 years, coupled with their innate understanding of luxurious, the Aponte family carefully curated the design from the suites, penthouses and residences to create a luxurious home on sea. The design reflects the particular brand’s philosophy of creating an ‘Ocean State associated with Mind’, thanks to light, colour, area, privacy, and connection along with the sea.
They worked meticulously in cooperation with some of the world’s foremost superyacht, cruise, plus luxury food designers and architects in order to blend elegant Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship and vibrant design. The result is luxurious, serene and spacious ‘Homes at Sea’ ranging from 35 square-metre (377 square-feet) within the Ocean Patio category up to 280 square-metre (3, 014 square-feet) for your Owner’s Residence.
In addition to the direction towards eco-pump refillable amenities plus non-use associated with single make use of plastic, where feasible, we are sourcing sustainable products including B Corp certified items. As we source globally, we are searching for close-to-port suppliers to reduce the particular transportation of supplies to the ship. We are also firmly suggesting in order to our preferred suppliers that will they package in bulk over individual wrapping.
Can you tell us about the food and beverage offerings?
Sustainability and finding locally possess always already been top of the agenda for Explora Journeys and its culinary offering. Franck Garanger, Head of Culinary, has been using his exceptional knowledge to make sure the offering can be as environmentally friendly because possible.
EXPLORA I will offer a celebration associated with global culinary talents, cultures, and passions. This will showcase eleven culinary experiences across six small and intimate, yet lively, restaurants plus in-suite dining, as properly as 12 bars and lounges (eight indoor and four outdoor). There is definitely also a chef’s kitchen where guests can discover and enjoy diverse flavours from around the world.
Franck Garanger will ensure that whether in the elegant interiors, by the pool or on the suite’s private terrace, every venue will be distinct and designed to create unforgettable experiences.
We know that our target demographic of discerning travellers look for an unique plus highly-curated offering when it comes to as well as drink choices. Quality and sustainability is, associated with course, a vital element too, so EXPLORA I will ensure guests are offered a curated choice of restaurants, bars, and lounges, each of which blend vibrancy with privacy, in a good effortless atmosphere.
So how exactly does your view of the particular fitness and wellness industries feed into your providing on table?
Our research into identifying new trends revealed a few great opportunities for all of us, such as the increase in the desire meant for collagen treatments. As a result, we all have selected expert partner brands including Dr LEVY, Switzerland to offer bespoke, on-trend and sustainable treatments.
A menu of unique treatments, several exclusive in the market and to EXPLORA I, have got been curated to calm the mind, revitalise the particular body, plus boost the immune function, mirroring the particular positive effects that the ocean offers on the body. We want to take a holistic approach to wellness looking at it from a 360-degree approach, which can be becoming more important than ever.
More consumers than ever are choosing to workout outdoors. It’s unusual for a luxury ship to provide such a feature, can you tell us more?
Explora Journeys’ ocean wellness concept will offer guests an unique and bespoke approach in order to fitness and wellness.
Not only can we offer visitors 227 square-metre (2, 443 square-feet) associated with indoor room, but the ship has also been constructed with 64 square-metre (688 square-feet) of unparalleled outdoor fitness facilities including a sports court for half-court basketball, as well as a panoramic running track plus touch tennis.
Today, science has gone further by proving that will exercise is certainly crucial to a strong immune system, lower stress levels, high self-esteem, the balanced mood, good sleep quality, and elevated power. This knowledge is in the heart associated with our ocean wellness plus fitness ethos.
Giving guests an outdoor, and also an indoor option, allows these to boost their connection to the ocean that surrounds them. From an preliminary physical assessment to functional and strength training, cardio and Pilates, in unique sessions or even group classes, it is totally focused on motivating guests to optimise their own health.
There exists a hydrotherapy pool, steam room, Finnish sauna, salt cave, encounter shower and heated marble loungers – are there other features plus can you explain what the Ice Fall is?
Further to all those services, guests can enjoy the vapor shower and a beauty studio, along with 11 treatment rooms, which includes two private spa suites with their particular own outside relaxation area.
The Ice Fall will be reaction therapy, which is the particular phase of the wellbeing experience exactly where water is usually predominant plus helps rebalance the body functions and temperature. After the exposure to heat, an appropriate cold reaction stops your body overheating, has a toning effect, favours vasoconstriction, balances the cardiorespiratory system, and ensures mental freshness.
In our case, the particular Ice Fall regenerates the body after intense heat exposure within the Finnish sauna or steam room. The ice crystals, when massaged on the particular whole entire body from the feet in order to the heart, create a good ice exfoliation, smoothing the skin and re-balancing the body temperature.
In-suite, all visitors have the option associated with training in their ocean-front rooms or their own suite terraces, supported by a virtual coach. This really is made possible from the Technogym Bench, the particular sleek strength-training station with enclosed tools, and Technogym Case Kit using its QR code access to a digital library of guided video exercises along with trainers supported by Technogym.
What is definitely different regarding Explora Journeys’ excursions plus how are you able to go to lesser-travelled ports than competitors?
Each deliver will vacation to renowned and less-frequented destinations, and linger longer for a deeper immersion. From the Norwegian Fjords in order to the beaches in the Bahamas, guests can delve into a world of discovery, adventure, authenticity, and nature for immersive and extraordinary experiences. We can do this particular as our own ships are usually smaller plus can therefore enter smaller or less touristy slots thanks to the tender service available for our visitors.