Construction work has started on Explora Journeys’ second ship, Explora II.
MSC Group’s newly-launched luxury line celebrated the milestone during a steel cutting ceremony at Fincantieri’s Castellammare di Stabia shipyard in Naples, Italy.
The event was attended by executives including Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Group’s cruise division; Michael Ungerer, chief executive of Explora Journeys; and Luigi Matarazzo, general manager of Merchant Ships Division at Fincantieri.
Vago said: “The start of Explora Journeys’ second ship signals our firm commitment to our tourism partners for the coming-to-market of our new luxury brand with a significant financial investment in a fleet of innovative, elegant ships, that will bring together our vision and purpose to create an ocean state of mind like no other.
“Given our belief in this brand to create a new category in luxury, lifestyle travel, we will continue to invest in its expansion to attract the growing number and aspirations of the next generation of discerning luxury travellers.”
Explora Journeys was launched in June alongside a steel cutting for its first ship, Explora I, which is due to enter service in May 2023.
Explora II is scheduled to welcome its first guests in spring 2024, while an additional two vessel are expected to join the fleet in 2025 and 2026.
Explora II will feature the same design at Explora I, featuring 461 ocean-front suites with private terraces.
Both ships will utilise the latest sustainable technologies, including provision for battery storage to allow future hybrid power generation; the latest selective catalytic reduction technology, reportedly enabling a reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions by 90 per cent; and ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth.
Explora Journeys recently unveiled its ‘By Appointment’ service, whereby travel agents can set up an appointment with one of its customer service representatives in “just four clicks”.
The line also recently became the first cruise line to be invited into Virtuoso’s Preview programme, which allows brands to partner with the network during their crucial launch phase to receive guidance from travel advisors and get a head start on bookings.
Ungerer said: “We are greatly encouraged by the tremendous enthusiasm and support we have received so far from the travel advisor community who have placed their trust in Explora Journeys since our launch in June and for their overwhelming response to our exclusive `By Appointment’ service and innovative commercial terms.
“Explora Journeys has also been awarded ‘preferred’ status with a number of leading travel agency groups, an honour not normally bestowed on a brand prior to its coming into service, that demonstrates an unprecedented recognition from the luxury travel industry and which reinforces our commitment to, and confidence, in our robust B2B2C strategy.”
Photo credit: Ivan Sarfatti