Explora Journeys, the new luxury brand from MSC Cruises, will cater for families with children and grandchildren, the line’s CEO told a press conference on MSC Virtuosa today.
Michael Ungerer said there would be ‘a small facility’ for youngsters on the 1,000-passenger ships, starting with Explora I in May 2023.
Of the 461 all-balcony suites, 82 will have connecting doors so parents can have their kids in an adjoining room.
On the food front, there won’t be a tie-in with one celebrity chef but the line will partner with ‘up and coming’ cooks who will take over the speciality restaurants for three or four months at a time so repeat guests have the chance to try different cuisines, said Helen Beck, head of global sales excellence.
There will be eight complimentary restaurants in total with open dining, three of them by reservation only, available for booking ahead of the cruise or while on board.
One of the venues will offer buffet service while other styles include pan-Asian, steakhouse, Mediterranean and international. Among other options are a coffee lounge, poolside dining, chef’s kitchen and room service.
Bars will include an observation lounge, whisky-and-cigar room and main lounge.
Ms Beck also said the ships would not have a conventional theatre but would offer entertainment across ten lounges.
When I asked how Explora Journeys would compare to other ultra-luxury brands, Ms Beck said it aimed to attract international customers using European style.
Mr Ungerer said the target audience ‘want to connect with themselves, connect with like-minded others and connect with destinations they visit in an authentic way’.
The ships will be 813ft long, measure 63,900 gross tons and offer three outdoor pools and one indoor one with a retractable glass roof, as well as lots of indoor and outdoor whirlpools. Guests will also be able to use 64 private cabanas.
Of the suites, 22 known as Ocean Residences plus the lucky occupier of the Owner’s Residence will have 24-hour butler service.
Explora I will make its debut in the Med in May 2023 and sail its inaugural UK cruise on August 24 of that year, leaving Southampton for Edinburgh (overnight), Newcastle, Invergordon, Stornoway, Oban, Liverpool and Glasgow.
In a separate press conference, MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago pointed out that the fleet of 19 ships now offered a total of 1,600 cabins in the Yacht Club – the ‘ship within a ship’ for premium guests with its own pool and restaurant.
Explora Journeys would be ‘very sophisticated’, he promised. ‘The ships will be able to operate not only off the beaten track but offer a comfortable landing on a beach in the middle of nowhere.’