A new luxury line will go head-to-head with the likes of Silversea, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn when it launches next year – and it is already targeting high spending Australians.
Explora Journeys is a sub brand of MSC, which is the world’s fourth largest cruise line but a massive global shipping operator with enormous cargo fleets.
The Italian family-owned line has developed a fleet of newly designed big ships which are currently targeting America, and has vessels in Europe and the Middle East.
But Explora Journeys is its first foray into ultra luxe small ships, and this week it appointed an Australian head of sales for the APAC region based in Sydney. Nicole Costantin is a veteran of the industry and worked for Norwegian Cruise Lines, which owns ultra luxury Regent Seven Seas Cruises and upper premium Oceania Cruises.
As Australia emerges from more than two years of Covid lockdown, Ms Costantin says seasoned Aussie cruisers are resetting their priorities and choosing to go upmarket in their choice of hotels, trains, flights and cruises when travelling overseas.
“Australian travellers definitely have an appetite for luxury travel after being isolated and deprived of travelling overseas in the last two years. They are adopting “live for the moment” and “live for the memories” of travelling with family and friends again.
“We are absolutely seeing more Australians going luxury in their choice of hotels, train journeys, cruises and are flying business class,” she told Cruise Passenger in an interview.
Ms Costantin added:”There’s plenty of room in the market place for another five-star cruise brand.
“Explora ships will have 461, all-balcony suites with the highest staff-to-guest ratio of 1.25. All-inclusive prices for a Mediterranean cruise onboard an Explora ship will be at least $1000 per person per night.”
This pits Explora directly against Regent Seven Seas of NCL – her former employer of two decades.
“Explora will definitely be a rival to Regent Seven Seas ships. Our brand of cruise ships will be very European in style. We will have amazing dining restaurants with the appointment of French chef, Frank Garanger as Head of Culinary of Explora Journeys to curate and focus on healthy, delicious food from local and sustainable sources.
“Our guests will have freedom of choice and are not expected to wear black-tie attire. They will be more casually but smartly-dressed. Besides our fabulous speciality restaurants, Explora will focus on wellness and fitness with four beautiful pools including an indoor pool with a retractable glass roof, pilates & yoga lessons and outdoor exercise facilities.”
Ms Costantin’s appointment comes as Explora Journeys announced the construction of two hydrogen-powered luxury cruise ships, EXPLORA V and EXPLORA VI which allow for zero emissions while in port. This brings the Explora fleet to six ships valued at Euros 3.5 billion ($5.3 billion).
The first ship, EXPLORA I will be mastered by a woman, Captain Serena Melani when she sails on her maiden voyage in the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Athens on 31 May 2023.
Explora ships will cruise in Europe, Baltic, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, the Caribbean, South America and Alaska.
“While there are no plans yet for Explora ships to head to Asia and Australia, nothing is set in concrete,” Ms Costantin said.