Explora Journeys, the new luxury lifestyle brand from MSC Group, marked a milestone on August 1, 2023, when its first ship, Explora I, set sail on her inaugural voyage. The maiden cruise departed from Copenhagen, where a traditional maritime ceremony was held.
Explora I, the first vessel to sail under the Explora Journeys brand, officially entered service when she began her inaugural cruise on August 1, departing from Copenhagen on a 7-night voyage to Reykjavik, Iceland. The 922-guest ship will call at the Lerwick, Shetland Islands, and Kirkwall, Orkney, before concluding in Iceland’s capital.
The Northern European voyage was designed to provide guests with the line’s “Ocean State of Mind” theme while featuring luxe-level amenities and services.
Before departing Copenhagen, cruise line and port officials marked the occasion with a traditional crest exchange, a maritime tradition that celebrates a ship’s inaugural visit to a destination.
“It is our absolute honor to welcome the very first guests onboard our extraordinary ship and share this special moment with them as we embark on the maiden journey of Explora I from Copenhagen,” said Michael Ungerer, Explora Journeys CEO.
Attendees included the ship’s master Captain Serena Melani; Deputy Port Captain Johan Hoganfalt; Chief Commercial Officer of Copenhagen Malmö Port Sune Christensen; Director of Cruise Baltic and Cruise Copenhagen Klaus Bondam; and Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys.
“Our guests will be able to experience the very best European hospitality at sea and our vibrant, cosmopolitan sense of luxury, while discovering some of the world’s most remarkable destinations. A new era of transformative luxury ocean travel begins now with the first sailing of Explora I,” Ungerer added.
The luxury ship’s original timeline for delivery and the maiden sailing was disrupted when the vessel’s planned handover from Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, was postponed.
Citing supply chain issues and the need for further enhancements, the delivery of Explora I was pushed back from July 5 to July 20. A planned naming ceremony in Rome, set for July 8, also was nixed.
Explora I was scheduled to sail her maiden cruise on July 17 from Southampton, UK. The 15-night itinerary was to include the Norwegian Fjords and the Arctic Circle, with debarkation in Copenhagen.
Following her inaugural sailing, the ship will remain in Northern Europe through early September. On September 9, Explora Journeys will introduce its newly named brand ambassador, Mike Horn, when Explora I’s 17-day Arctic Geyser, Calving Glaciers, and Fiery Lands of Ice cruise departs Reykjavik. The sailing calls at two Iceland ports and four destinations in Greenland before concluding in New York on September 25.
In April 2023, the luxury cruise line announced that Horn, a well-known Swiss adventurer, expedition leader, explorer and environmentalist, would join the company as brand ambassador, helping to develop the line’s adventure destination experiences and onboard enrichment programs.
Following her Northern European deployment, Explora I will spend winter 2024-25in the Caribbean, sailing a series of 6- to 16-night cruises between Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Barbados.
Explora Journeys has plans to add five more ships to its fleet. Explora II is due to enter service in 2024 and is under construction at the Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Explora III, Explora IV, Explora V, and Explora VI are not yet under construction but are scheduled for delivery through 2028.
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